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Where to buy Vanilla beans and spices

shms Jan 6, 2012 05:07 PM

I remember vanilla beans being available in almost every grocery store but I went to a dominion and a no frills and no vanilla beans.
Do I have to go to a pusateri's or something?
I also couldn't find fennel pollen..
Anyone have a good place for spices/herbs that aren't the grocery store standard and a good vanilla bean source?
All in Toronto

  1. Otonabee Jan 7, 2012 12:25 PM

    I am a big fan of the Spice Trader http://www.thespicetrader.ca/ Quality and selection are both excellent.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Otonabee
      CocoTO Jan 9, 2012 08:33 AM

      +1 on the Spice Trader ... mostly all organic too, and not to mention that, for me, it's nice to support small, local businesses where the quality is there.

      1. re: CocoTO
        radiopolitic Jul 14, 2012 09:45 PM

        I used to like their stuff but I have found certain products to have gone significantly downhill and gotten more expensive.

        50g of sumac for $8.35? That's egregious! Not to mention the last couple of times I purchased it a few years back it was of very poor quality.

        I'd like to support them as I wish we had more little shops like this but they charge too much for an inferior product.

        1. re: radiopolitic
          CocoTO Jul 15, 2012 07:52 AM

          That's too bad you've had that experience radiopolitic. I really like that they source mainly organic, which is important to me, but does tend to up the price on most produce. I know when they first opened, their mission was to provide organic at prices that would be affordable ...

        2. re: CocoTO
          Kagemusha Jul 15, 2012 07:28 AM

          No dice on the Spice Trader. Hype, so-so quality, high prices, low turnover=stale, pricey merch.

          Their niche seems dependent on customers unwilling to source spices at their respective ethnic markets. Sumac example above being a case in point.

      2. c
        ComeUndone Jan 6, 2012 08:33 PM

        Costco currently has Rodelle brand vanilla beans 10 for approx $10-12. They are moist and in good condition. Unless I plan to make something extra special, these are my go-to vanilla beans.

        5 Replies
        1. re: ComeUndone
          BusterRhino Jan 7, 2012 08:57 AM

          Moist vanilla beans are good, so are dried. I actually always have some at home that I have allowed to dry on their own. Griding the whole bean up and adding it to recipes is extremely good. The white stuff that is outside of the vanilla bean is called vanillan(sp?) and it's intensely flavourful as well. What you really need to concern yourself with is the type of bean you are buying actually. They all have specific qualities that make them good for xxx - although they will all work for pretty much anything. At $1.00 a bean it's a good price, although you can get them for much much cheaper if you are willing to buy in mass quantities. I buy about 500 beans a year, I sell some, I give some away, I use ALOT of them (most actually) for making vanilla extract.

          1. re: ComeUndone
            maabso Jan 9, 2012 11:18 AM

            +1 Costco

            1. re: maabso
              Foodpls Jul 14, 2012 03:40 PM

              Hi, I went to Costco today(woodbine/hwy7 store) looking for vanilla beans but none of the staff have seen vanilla beans in store. Can anyone tell me which section are the beans normally stock under and how does the packaging look like? And which Costco store do you go to get vanilla beans please? Thanks a million!

              1. re: Foodpls
                cheesymama Jul 14, 2012 06:12 PM

                I think they are seasonal. If my memory is correct they should show up before Thanksgiving, defjnjtely before Christmas. They are in with the spices, 2 tubes on a cardboard sleeve. I have gotten them at both the Queensway and Warden locations.

                1. re: cheesymama
                  Foodpls Jul 14, 2012 08:26 PM

                  Thanks Cheesymama. It's very helpful. I will keep an eye out near the season then .

          2. i
            inibble Jan 6, 2012 06:24 PM

            I buy all my spices from Penzeys.com, an American spice catalog. I make an annual order. They have vanilla beans, but do not have fennel pollen.

            1. s
              shms Jan 6, 2012 06:14 PM

              thanks I'll give this a shot..
              anyone know if thevanillashop.com is still active?
              I sent an email but no response
              Also where to get valhrona chocolate or some of the better chocolates to make desserts with not to eat as is

              1. Wahooty Jan 6, 2012 05:26 PM

                Try the Big Carrot. They used to have vanilla beans at very reasonable prices, as well as a lot of other bulk herbs/spices. Seems a likely source for fennel pollen too, but you might want to call first if it's out of your way.

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