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Aug 24, 2011 08:41 AM

Vanilla Beans

I just bought a pound of Ugandan vanilla beans (90-100 beans). Besides all the typical applications; ice cream, vanilla sugar, custards, etc...what do you suggest?

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  1. make your own vanilla extract. WAY better than anything you'll buy.

    1 Reply
    1. Did you know that putting a bit of vanilla in a can of paint is supposed to nullify the wet paint smell?

      Try the trick that appeared recently on CH: cut the tips off vanilla beans, stick the cut ends in enough vodka or rum to keep them submerged. When you want beans for baking, just grasp it at the uncut end and squeeze, toothpaste style, down the bean. The beans will fall into your batter.

      I haven't tried it yet but if you want more info I'm sure you can google the video that's here somewhere.

      11 Replies
        1. re: NotJuliaChild

          Too funny NJC, I posted the same CHOW video earlier below.

          1. re: HillJ

            Yes, I saw that after I posted the link.

            Let me make a different contribution. Here's the Chow video on how to make your own Vanilla Extract:


          2. re: NotJuliaChild

            Hey all,

            Using this wonderful method, how do you all preserve the paste after it's been extracted from the pod??? Does it last indefinitely in an airtight container?

            Thanks a lot.

            1. re: xiaobao12

              By placing vanilla pods with both ends trimmed standing in 2 inches of dark rum, I am letting the rum draw up inside the pod and create a thick bean goo which remains contained inside the pod until I squeeze it out for use.

              I don't squeeze the vanilla bean "goo" until I'm ready to use it in a recipe or mixed into sugar, or dispensed into a liquid.

              Those pods keep fresh and intact standing in the rum, jarred for use as needed forever.

              1. re: HillJ

                ahhhh......gotcha...I was so hoping you would respond HillJ. Thanks a lot!

                I have a few beens that ordered more than 6 months ago in a tight ziploc that I want to use with this method because I am worried about them drying out since they are so precious.

                1. re: xiaobao12

                  And you'll be very happy you did, xia! it will take a few months for the rum, vodka, gin to draw up through the cut end (I cut both ends of each pod) but it will last a good while, intensify the pod & flavor and make using that precious goo so much easier to access. And, the liquid method will def. keep the entire pod moist.

                  What liquid are u going to use in the jar? I use a double wide large mason jar and keep it in my pantry.

                  1. re: HillJ

                    I will be using captain morgan spiced rum - bad idea? It's all I have. I have a large strawberry jam jar from costco that I will use for this.

                    I also have some extract going - I just cut the pods into 1/3's (no splitting) and threw them in with some vodka in a bottle with a cork. That has been seeping for 3.5 months. Btw, do you every strain your extract and rebottle or do you just keep the vanilla remains in the same bottle and replenish with more alcohol and beans and just use that?

                    1. re: xiaobao12

                      If you like the spiced rum I see no issue. As long as you know that the spice will affect flavor and impact the bit of spice in everything you use the beans for. I like spiced rum as well. Right now my jarred beans are sitting in gin. Dark rum is my personal fav.

                      Yes, I have strained, bottled and replenished beans over time. The extract this method creates is phenom. I always replenish with the same liquid. If I want a new liquid I use fresh, new beans and begin the process again.

                    2. re: HillJ

                      Hi HillJ and all,

                      Happy New Year =)

                      It has been 7 months and I want to report back. I have several concoctions - 2 are the tiny liquor bottles that I filled up with vodka and infused with a few sticks of vanilla to make vanilla extract - they make pretty gifts.

                      I also have a bottle of my own vanilla extract made with vodka. I tasted it for the first time 3 months ago and it was delicious (but the expensive stuff from Whole Foods tastes like that too though....).

                      I also have the magical vanilla goo in a large jar with the spiced rum. I have been so squirrel like about this stuff that I haven't even used it.....I do bake a lot but haven't used it!!

                      Any immediate ideas?

                      I want to add vanilla flavor to my coffee beans.....maybe I can use up some of that goo....and then dry out the pod, and insert into my beans?

                      1. re: xiaobao12

                        How exciting and thanks so much for reporting back to this thread.

                        Nothing beats homemade extract.

                        Now that you've nailed the process, use the goo! It's so inexpensive and easy to create. Just this morning I added vanilla bean "goo" to my Greek yogurt, my batch of morning muffins and in tonight's batch of rice pudding. Once I've exhausted an entire bod I leave it on a plate to air dry and then I pulse the entire pod into a puree using my electric grinder. Then I use the pod dust in my coffee grounds. No waste and it's all delicious!

                        Have you flavored any sugar yet?
                        Vanilla simple syrup
                        Vanilla iced tea
                        Vanilla ice cream?

          3. Vanilla beans are the 2nd most expensive spice after saffron. If I may be so bold to ask, please give me an estimate of the cost of 90-100 beans. If you chose answer you can say 'less than', more than' or 'about.' I am not in the habit of asking such a question, but I'm astounded at the number of beans purchased.

            My wife and I are accustomed to using pine nuts in Italian dishes. Due to the cost of pine nuts now, we don't use them anymore. Thirty or more dollars for a pound of pine nuts is looney tunes.

            17 Replies
            1. re: ChiliDude

              If you buy vanilla beans one or two at a time they can be very expensive; six or eight dollars each. I went to Arizona Vanilla Company online and got a pound for about $60. They have other varieties that cost a bit more and some that cost a bit less. There are other websites out there. Just google vanilla beans and you will find a few different online retailers.

              I think $0.60 per bean is a pretty good deal.

              1. re: ChiliDude

                I just bought a dozen beans off of eBay for less than $5 after shipping. These are Tahitian beans, which have a more delicate, floral taste (or so I've read -- mine were supposed to arrive yesterday) but for that price, I'd buy vanilla beans that someone had kept in their shoe.

                1. re: ChiliDude

                  I used to buy my beans from Penzey's -- good quality/price ratio, and I was usually ordering something else, so the freight wasn't such a pinch on the cost of the vanilla.

                  1. re: ChiliDude


                    ChiliDude, I buy from this seller 4x's a year. Fantastic customer service.

                    I also buy her saffron and dried mushrooms.


                    this is the CHOW video detailing how to submerge your vanilla beans into 2 inches of alcohol for not only the easiest extraction but for the best concentration of vanilla extract you can make at home. This method has transformed the life of the beans I buy and (bonus) has made for a great gift idea.

                    To the OP, this thread back in July was also super helpful and the ideas really helped me.

                    After I have used up the pod I let them dry and grind them in my whirl-gig coffee grinder. The dried vanilla bean pod goes in my coffee grounds, simple syrup, baked breads, bathtub, you name it. I use every inch of those precious pods.

                    As for pine nuts...those high prices are a killer. What would you sub for a pine nut?

                    1. re: HillJ


                      Am I crazy or is it pretty cheap to get a pound of the Planifolia beans for 19.95 at!? I want to start making yummy desserts and it will be my first time buying vanilla. Is there a major difference between the Planifolia or Tahitian beans? (Mexican beans are too expensive for me right now


                      1. re: xiaobao12

                        xia, the lowest price around and frankly I don't know why anyone who enjoys true vanilla beans would buy them anywhere else. I see no major diff btwn any of their bean offerings except a slight jump in price (including organics). I have enjoyed hundreds of uses for hundreds of beans at cents on the dollar at this point. Go for it, xia!

                        1. re: HillJ

                          Thanks HillJ. After posting, I read more about the 2 places that you and morwen get your beans from (it was a very interesting discussion) - the two places being ebay (vanilla products) and I ordered from Ebay last night - just 10 sticks. Next time, I will order from ( Thanks so much for your advice!

                          1. re: xiaobao12

                            My pleasure xia. The ebay seller is also fine, I just dislike overpaying for the same quality or better when I can save $. Enjoy those beans!

                      2. re: HillJ

                        so appreciate your link info HillJ.

                        xia, so the $19.95 lb is for chef quality.
                        I had to read down further.
                        that is a great deal.
                        I stand corrected on thinking you had to sell the farm to afford vanilla beans.
                        tnx all

                        1. re: iL Divo

                          iLD, Emme on the other thread mentions an ebay seller out of PA offering 12 pods for under $3.00 plus s&h. Might be worth a try for a small order.

                          1. re: HillJ

                            oh no sweet HillJ......
                            I want a plethora of beans! like a hundred! ;:-)
                            seriously, I'd split&scrape a lot more (when recipes call for) then I do now, if only I didn't have to conserve.
                            I currently own 2 in a lovely 'still sealed' jar.
                            I use a lot of vanilla and have 6 different kinds of very good extract/essence. < that's where I splurge.
                            now with your info I can splurge w-out splurging if that makes sense. ;:-/

                            1. re: iL Divo

                              iLD, def. with you there. Buying with the CA company means we can use vanilla bean to our hearts content w/out squirreling away every precious seed. Have at it, I agree!

                        2. re: HillJ

                          I just placed an order for vanilla beans, based on the strength of your recommendation. Will let you know what I think when I get them!

                          1. re: nofunlatte

                            good for you, nfl! I just placed a new order myself on Saturday.

                            1. re: HillJ

                              Looks like my reply went AWOL. HillJ, thanks for the tip-- the beans arrived very quickly and in great shape. I scraped two beans and put the seeds, along with their pods, in a bottle with a little leftover Captain Morgans rum. Finally using that rum that has been in my cupboard for a few years! Very impressed with the service.

                              1. re: nofunlatte

                                Good for you and I am very happy for you that your order went well. Enjoy those beans!

                      3. Split and scrape a bean and let it infuse your maple syrup. Depending on how big your container is, half a bean may suffice. You might make your own vanilla vodka, too! CLINQUE!

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: kattyeyes

                          My partner sliced 1/2 of a vanilla bean into 3 thin strips, put it in a bottle of rum and let it steep for a few days. It made an awesome rum and coke, took the bottle camping and it was gone by the end of the weekend!

                        2. I use vanilla beans to make extracts, panna cotta, creme brulee, ice cream, pavlova, shortbread, apple crisp, brownies (caramel and chocolate), semifreddo, etc. One of my favourite applications is to use them in vanilla bean vinaigrettes.