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Bulk vanilla beans

Jpan99 Mar 5, 2012 12:17 PM

Has anyone ordered a large supply of vanilla beans online? I see them on Amazon but I'm not sure if they are any good. Looking for not more than a 1/2 pound. I am experimenting with making my own vanilla extract and vanilla gelato as well as making some vanilla French macarons so I'm going to need a few beans.

I can't really afford to spend $10 for two vanilla beans so need a better resource.

  1. j
    justlizikaria Mar 5, 2012 12:50 PM

    I've bought bulk vanilla beans from Morrocco off ebay and I'm thrilled with the quality, the service and the wonderful vanilla essence I've made with them, also vanilla sugar. I have a kilo of sugar in a large jar which I constantly top up and I'm constantly dipping into for baking, in my coffee etc.The essence I usually make with Vodka, but I recently read that it works with rum, ehich is what I've got brewing at the moment.
    Good Luck

    1. OCEllen Mar 5, 2012 12:52 PM

      Yes, check on Ebay, several suppliers there.

      12 Replies
      1. re: OCEllen
        Jpan99 Mar 5, 2012 01:02 PM

        Wow, just looked on Ebay and so many different ones. Can you recommend a particular vendor?

        1. re: Jpan99
          OCEllen Mar 5, 2012 01:08 PM

          Sorry, I've never bought them, just knew they were there. Maybe I will buy some!

        2. re: OCEllen
          scubadoo97 Mar 5, 2012 03:37 PM

          I've used Vanilla Products USA. Very good beans. Extra long and supple.

          1. re: scubadoo97
            Jpan99 Mar 5, 2012 03:56 PM

            Thanks, I saw that they were pretty popular with good reviews so I placed an order this afternoon. Should have them by Friday I think!

            1. re: Jpan99
              h
              HillJ Mar 5, 2012 04:34 PM

              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/803548
              Jpan99, I buy beans from http://www.theposter.com/vanilla2.html
              Prices, selection and freshness can't be beat (and isn't) and the CHOW video for extract and extraction is also in this older thread. Enjoy!

              1. re: HillJ
                scubadoo97 Mar 5, 2012 05:18 PM

                I've purchased saffron from them. Also a good source

                1. re: scubadoo97
                  h
                  HillJ Mar 5, 2012 06:20 PM

                  scub, have you tried their mushrooms?

                2. re: HillJ
                  g
                  GG Mora Mar 5, 2012 06:44 PM

                  I can also attest to the quality of their vanilla beans and their saffron. Haven't tried their mushrooms yet.

                  1. re: HillJ
                    Caitlin McGrath Mar 7, 2012 04:05 PM

                    Another satisfied customer of Vanilla Saffron Imports here, for both vanilla beans and saffron. Great quality and prices. I do not, however, recommend their vanilla extract because they add sugar (though they do not list this on the website, unfortunately). Very good customer service, as well.

                    1. re: Caitlin McGrath
                      h
                      HillJ Mar 7, 2012 04:34 PM

                      Good to know. I've never ordered their vanilla extract or oil. But, I'm thrilled to learn you had a positive ordering experience, CMc.

                    2. re: HillJ
                      iL Divo Aug 27, 2012 12:53 PM

                      (((HillJ)))

                      I called that phone number several times and no one answered < ever.
                      I gave up my hopes of finding vanilla beans that I could actually afford.
                      I'm making my husband a banana vanilla pudding tonight for dinner and used my last vanilla bean that cost me about $7 at Vons. It was a nice jar with 2 beans in it.
                      sheeeeeeeeeeeeeesh. Anyway......................

                      I just ordered my vanilla pods from Juan at the Poster. Someone finally answered the phone after 3 consecutive tries...............
                      I can't wait to get them. Completely forgot to do this months and months ago.
                      ;:+/ And the upside, Juan is even letting me mail him a check-when it clears, I get my vanilla beans, so helpful....................thanks again HillJ

                      1. re: iL Divo
                        h
                        HillJ Aug 27, 2012 01:07 PM

                        I just use email, iL D. Never had any trouble placing an order but I am very happy to read that Juan was able to connect with you and that you'll be in vanilla bean heaven in no time! btw-I love banana vanilla pudding

              2. JoanN Mar 5, 2012 04:16 PM

                Wherever, whenever, you buy your vanilla beans, please post your experimental experiences in making extract .

                I was in a nowhere market in a nowhere town in Guatemala a few days ago. This was so off the beaten path that I kept hearing whispers of "Gringa, gringa" as I passed through. I stopped to ask a vendor about a clay pot and she asked if I wanted fresh vanilla beans. Must have been a hail Mary pass on her part, but I bought a dozen of them for about $8. Yes, even here they're expensive. No idea if they're any good; haven't even had a chance to cut into one of them yet. But extract was very definitely on my mind. Won't be home for another couple of months and won't mess with it while I'm here. But I'll very much look forward to whatever you might have to say about your attempts and, hopefully, successes.

                1. g
                  gothamette Mar 5, 2012 07:30 PM

                  I have two jars of vanilla essence brewing. One is from Indonesian (I believe, Javanese) beans and it smells heavenly. The beans were plump and very sticky inside. The other is from PNG (Papua New Guinea), and it smells more like licorice.The beans weren't as good.

                  They are supposed to brew for 6 months altogether so things will probably change. I just ordered more beans but I forget where they are from. When I get them I'll update you.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: gothamette
                    gingershelley Mar 6, 2012 09:59 AM

                    I just put up extract 2 days ago; there was a thread here a while ago that got me started.

                    Bought beans from here: saffron.com out of SF. Got 1/2 lb., and a bonus gift of 6 beans in a seperate vacumn pouch. They are incredibly supply, aromatic and moist. Packages say 'sun cured' on them.

                    My extract, after only 2 days, smells deeply of vanilla (tho I can sure still smell vodka!), and is
                    already a brown color.

                    Got tips from this referral a CH'er put up:
                    http://www.vanillareview.com/make-van...

                    Let us know how it goes!

                    1. re: gingershelley
                      g
                      gothamette Mar 6, 2012 10:56 AM

                      Right now it's not extract, it is vanilla infused vodka. The website you linked is the one I learned that from. This will take a while - be patient!

                  2. Jpan99 Mar 6, 2012 04:51 AM

                    Does anyone know why the Mexican beans are so much more expensive?

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Jpan99
                      m
                      malabargold Mar 10, 2012 05:25 PM

                      Yep, Mexican beans have the best flavor

                    2. s
                      sparrowgrass Mar 6, 2012 05:06 AM

                      Arizona Vanilla has a great selection of several varieties of beans. Go for grade b for extract.

                      http://www.arizonavanilla.com/index.php

                      I have ordered from them several times, quality is great.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: sparrowgrass
                        g
                        gothamette Mar 6, 2012 07:46 AM

                        I got my Javanese beans from them. Quality is great but the shipping costs are high.

                      2. iL Divo Mar 6, 2012 06:55 AM

                        I've found in my quest over the years for vanilla beans, there is no true runaway dirt cheap price on the things. I wish there was a truly terrific source of reasonably priced beans but if there is please post where. I've been on ebay you still gotta chuck out a sizable dollar amount.

                        27 Replies
                        1. re: iL Divo
                          h
                          HillJ Mar 6, 2012 07:06 AM

                          Not true. 80-100 beans for 20.00 plus s/h is a real deal. And in the case of this supplier (mentioned above) choice, plump, well packaged beans at that. My quest ended the day I learned about this CA grower.

                          1. re: HillJ
                            g
                            gothamette Mar 6, 2012 07:56 AM

                            That is a terrific buy. Are they grade A or grade B? I only ask because I got 15 grade A (not for extract) on ebay for $7 and change, no shipping fee.

                            I've already got more extract brewing than I can use in a lifetime and for a lot of my cooking/baking, I actually prefer the "caviar" or as I call it, "goop." After all my research about making extract, I find that I don't like using it as much as I like using the goop. 15 beans is enough for me, for years. (I think.)

                            But I don't regret buying beans for extract because making extract is a lot of fun. One of the best things about using vanilla beans is that it is damn hard to wear them out and you can reuse them for vanilla sugar. After you scoop out the goop, you can use the pods for sugar. After you macerate them in alcohol for 6 months, you can dry the pods and use that in sugar.

                            Talk about a useful beautiful product! Long live vanilla beans!

                            1. re: gothamette
                              h
                              HillJ Mar 6, 2012 06:17 PM

                              http://www.chow.com/videos/show/all/6...
                              goth, I love vanilla bean goop and this video demonstrates how easily that goop can be had. Although I found the length of time sitting in dark rum to be more like 3-4 mos for truly great goop. I go thru about 100 pods a year for various purposes (food and non food uses) and store all of the beans in dark rum immediately out of the package.

                              1. re: HillJ
                                g
                                gothamette Mar 6, 2012 07:45 PM

                                Why do you need to store them at all? Don't they come vacuum packed?

                                1. re: gothamette
                                  h
                                  HillJ Mar 7, 2012 04:14 AM

                                  Once I open the pack the seal is broken. 100 beans over a year sitting wrapped will stay fairly well as is but stored in a few inches of dark rum serves two purposes for me. First, I'm making lovely extract with pods standing in rum. Second, by following the recommendation in the video I'm creating an infused rum goop that I love while ensuring the individual pods remain moist.

                                  The pods are fine as is. I'm just super sold on this particular method.

                                  1. re: HillJ
                                    g
                                    gothamette Mar 9, 2012 11:58 AM

                                    HillJ, by any chance do you know how to make powdered vanilla? I've looked on the 'net and found a variety of bizarro things. It's amazing the bad info you can find. One recipe said to put vanilla beans in a spice grinder - but obviously that would result in mush.

                                    I'm thinking that one should split the beans open and let them air dry. Or just let them air dry. Then put in grinder.

                                    What do you think? Does anyone else have ideas?

                                    1. re: gothamette
                                      h
                                      HillJ Mar 9, 2012 12:14 PM

                                      gothamette, you're on the right track. Once I use up the seeds of a pod I leave it out to dry. Then I pulse (electric whirly-gig coffee grinder) broken up dried pods and create a dry pulp. Some I use in my coffee grounds when I brew a pot. Some I pulverize and add to sugar. Some I store for soap-making.

                                      1. re: HillJ
                                        g
                                        gothamette Mar 10, 2012 03:20 PM

                                        HillJ: I'll try the goop-squeezing method in the Chow video but I'll submerge them in vodka. I don't have rum on hand and I don't want to buy it for that reason alone. I don't really use it in my baking. I read your comment on the video: does it really take 4-6 months to get the beans squeezable?

                                        1. re: gothamette
                                          h
                                          HillJ Mar 10, 2012 03:37 PM

                                          Rum, bourbon, vodka-all work. I've experimented with all three. I've also submerged v pods in olive oil, cider vinegar, champagne vinegar and citrus juices. Lots of experimenting and I recommend you give different liquids a try.

                                          As for the length of time before you see some lovely vanilla bean goop, I'd start with 1.5 months and check a pod. Sarabeth's method turns the pod into a straw that over time sucks up the liquid the pod is sitting in. The type of liquid you use will determine the type of goop you get :) and how long it will take to achieve goop. So, gently squeeze the cut end and you'll begin to notice the goop. The longer it sits in the liquid the thicker the goop...also more concentrated flavor. And of course the liquid is also absorbing the vanilla pod and flavoring it into a delicious, useful extract.

                                          The bonus is there is no waste here. Extract, goop, dried pods to reuse.

                                          It's all good :)

                                          1. re: HillJ
                                            h
                                            HillJ Mar 10, 2012 04:01 PM

                                            eta: on the citrus juices/vanilla pod, which I use for cocktails I fresh squeeze lime, lemon, oranges and add one split pod into the juice about three days before using for parties. So, yes, some of these "recipes" can be short lived too.

                                            1. re: HillJ
                                              g
                                              gothamette Mar 10, 2012 05:05 PM

                                              I was initially put off by the fact that the vanilla bean will absorb some alcohol - and that some of the vanilla essence is "sucked" out by the alcohol. But I'll try it. I hate scraping the goop from dried beans. There's always waste.

                                              1. re: gothamette
                                                h
                                                HillJ Mar 10, 2012 06:03 PM

                                                goth, if you prefer no alcohol buy a non alcohol vanilla extract and add your beans to that instead. You'll be infusing with vanilla for vanilla.

                                                http://www.frontiercoop.com/products....

                                                1. re: HillJ
                                                  g
                                                  gothamette Mar 11, 2012 05:20 PM

                                                  HillJ, the alcohol doesn't essentially bother me - it burns off in cooking, right? At first it did but not after thinking about it. I don't want to get toooooo crazed with this vanilla thing. The whole idea of making my own essence was to save money......now it's become an obsession.

                                              2. re: HillJ
                                                iL Divo Sep 20, 2012 02:18 PM

                                                guess who had a box in the mailbox Tuesday?
                                                me and the beans are gorgeous.
                                                tonight: vanilla banana pudding ice cream (homemade-got a ice cream maker)
                                                got to get nilla wafers and go from there.
                                                can't wait to see his face after dinner when a nice (I pray) scoop is presented in front of him.

                                                1. re: iL Divo
                                                  h
                                                  HillJ Sep 20, 2012 02:33 PM

                                                  Look @ you! That's great, iLD! Have fun!

                                                  1. re: HillJ
                                                    iL Divo Sep 20, 2012 05:53 PM

                                                    there are so many recipes to choose from.
                                                    plus they are all very different from each other.
                                                    I settled on one that sounded pretty straight up with egg yolks, sugar, milk, cream , pinch salt, my gorgeous vanilla bean and seeds, custard powder, banana and Nilla wafers. all (except wafers) is in the frozen half of container churning away.
                                                    if this doesn't turn out fab I'm gonna sob.

                                                    1. re: iL Divo
                                                      h
                                                      HillJ Sep 20, 2012 07:25 PM

                                                      Well, the recipe you selected sounds delicious! Can't wait to hear YOUR review.

                                                      1. re: HillJ
                                                        iL Divo Sep 20, 2012 09:33 PM

                                                        sometimes you get really 'not good' results.
                                                        and then there are times like tonight where the
                                                        kitchen witches are all flying around the cook and ice cream maker machine.
                                                        total success! okay, not really (or not quite I should say) only because 
                                                        it didn't have the few hours to totally set up completely to become that solid mass of luciousness.
                                                        but tomorrow night, he's gonna race home from work :^)
                                                        YEAH

                                                  2. re: iL Divo
                                                    scubadoo97 Sep 20, 2012 03:50 PM

                                                    sounds fantastic LD

                                      2. re: HillJ
                                        iL Divo Mar 9, 2012 01:32 PM

                                        HillJ, another great tip, that video is magic! thanks for sharing, goop heaven I'll soon be in. Have a phone call in for a pound of beans via the poster.
                                        I'm smiling here........... :)

                                    2. re: HillJ
                                      iL Divo Mar 9, 2012 01:12 PM

                                      thanked you on the other thread but wanted to do that here too HillJ.
                                      appreciate it.

                                      1. re: iL Divo
                                        h
                                        HillJ Mar 9, 2012 01:39 PM

                                        My pleasure, iLD. Enjoy those beans!

                                        1. re: HillJ
                                          iL Divo Sep 27, 2012 05:46 PM

                                          HillJ~
                                          did you see my fantastic results? magnifique!

                                          1. re: iL Divo
                                            h
                                            HillJ Sep 27, 2012 07:03 PM

                                            No iLD, I didn't. Where should I be looking?

                                            1. re: HillJ
                                              iL Divo Oct 1, 2012 02:02 PM

                                              copied and pasted from above.
                                              I know, I'm over the top with this but wanted you to know how pleased I was/am.
                                              more using my new pods/beans today for our dessert, yeah!
                                              ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                                              sometimes you get really 'not good' results.
                                              and then there are times like tonight where the
                                              kitchen witches are all flying around the cook and ice cream maker machine.
                                              total success! okay, not really (or not quite I should say) only because
                                              it didn't have the few hours to totally set up completely to become that rock solid mass of luciousness.
                                              but tomorrow night, he's gonna race home from work :^)
                                              YEAH

                                              1. re: iL Divo
                                                h
                                                HillJ Oct 1, 2012 03:06 PM

                                                very cool!!

                                      2. re: HillJ
                                        g
                                        gothamette Mar 9, 2012 06:02 PM

                                        80-100 beans from http://www.theposter.com/vanilla2.html? Where is that? I don't see it. Oh wait, stupid me - it's the chef quality. You're right - can't beat that.

                                        By the way, I got my 15 for $7.39 from these guys:

                                        http://www.ebay.com/itm/150758688161?...

                                        Ok but not great. They weren't vacuum packed and were a bit dry. Nice, but I want my beans plump and vacuum packed. Next time it's either Vanilla Safron in CA or Vanilla Products on Ebay. I've heard good stuff about them too.

                                        I just cut one open, in half, scraped the goop and put the goop and the empty pod into pound of coffee beans. Who needs fake vanilla coffee?

                                    3. Emme Mar 7, 2012 12:36 PM

                                      i don't think anyone has listed this yet, but here's where i get mine. i have had really good experiences. they come fast and work great.

                                      http://www.ebay.com/itm/One-Dozen-12-...

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: Emme
                                        h
                                        HillJ Mar 7, 2012 04:35 PM

                                        Emme, that's a good price for 12 pods @ under $3.00. Shipping and handling shouldn't be too much for a vac pack. I'm going to keep this link handy. PA is near me.

                                        1. re: HillJ
                                          Emme Mar 7, 2012 08:51 PM

                                          i was stoked. i think i ordered like 5 or 6 packages... shipping was only 2 something IIRC. and i believe each order comes with a booklet of recipes, or at the very least, a recipe for Vanilla Extract! i have it in my cupboard somewhere...

                                      2. Jpan99 Mar 8, 2012 08:05 AM

                                        Wow, I posted this message on Monday, it's Thursday morning and I have my beans already! Ahh, the power of the internet!

                                        I ended up buying these:
                                        http://www.ebay.com/itm/1-2-LB-Gourme...

                                        Shipping was low and I got a free 1/8th pound of near gourmet quality beans as a bonus. They are vacuum packed and I haven't opened them yet but you can smell the vanilla anyway. The free beans are little scrawnier so I'll use them for the extract and keep the gourmet ones for baking.

                                        Boy, it really makes you wonder about the the expensive stuff. Like King Arthur Flour that sells a jar with 2 beans in it for $10. You know they probably paid less than I did for a big pack of beans. Kind of like the inflated cost of popcorn at the movies!

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: Jpan99
                                          g
                                          gothamette Mar 9, 2012 06:16 PM

                                          What is the quality of your grade A's? See my post above - I bought 15 grade A madagascar bourbons from another vendor and was somewhat disappointed with the quality (although not the price).

                                          I note that you have 1/2 pound of Madagascar grade A's for $28 and Vanilla Saffron products has a pound of "chef's quality" for $20 (plus S&H). I wonder how Grade A's compare to "chef's quality."

                                          1. re: gothamette
                                            Jpan99 Mar 10, 2012 09:21 AM

                                            The gourmet grade are okay. It's the first time I've bought in bulk so I have nothing to compare it to. I haven't bought whole vanilla beans in quite a while because of the cost at local stores so I really don't have a lot of experience with them. The company did send me some free beans with my order, called "near" gourmet quality. They definitely are inferior to the gourmet beans. Much flatter but the same length. Seem a little drier. I'm using those to make the extract and the gourmet beans for baking and ice cream.

                                            Honestly, now that I know you can get so many more beans for the buck by shopping online I expect to use them a lot more than I expected. Did you watch the video posted by HillJ above? Definitely going to make some goop and looking forward to drying and grinding the used beans later. Such fun!

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