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Bond Girl

Reliable Sources for Vanilla Beans

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In my recent determination to cook more at home, I am burning through my supply of vanilla beans (ice cream, cakes and an occasional tart will do that). At $6.00 retail a tube, this is costing me a fortune. Does anyone know of a reputable internet source for vanilla beans? Once I get them in bulk, so I need to store them in any special way?


Ya-Roo Yang aka "Bond Girl"

The Adventures of Bond Girl

I don't ask for much, but whatever you do give me, make it of the highest quality.

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I have purchased vanilla beans from many sources over the years and have been most pleased with the ones from

The Vanilla Company

Their prices, like all vanilla vendors, have gone up in recent weeks but their quality is very good, nice fat, moist beans.

I use all three types, the Tahitian for ice cream, custards and etc. The Mexican for less delicate recipes and for combining with chocolate and the Bourbon for making vanilla extract

(I use Everclear grain alcohol).

Check their "chefs in residence" page.


"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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I got very good vanilla beans from Golden Gate. They also have excellent saffron.

I kept my beans tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and rolled/sealed in a Ziploc bag, stored on a pantry shelf. They lasted well for nearly two years; the remaining few beans got dry and hard, but I was able to resuscitate them nicely. Read about my method for bringing them back to life.

An article I read somewhere (Saveur maybe?) discredited the commonly held practice of storing vanilla beans in the refrigerator or freezer.

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An article I read somewhere (Saveur maybe?) discredited the commonly held practice of storing vanilla beans in the refrigerator or freezer.

Too true! Back in the dark ages, when I was just starting out as a baker, I saw my first vanilla bean when one of our pastry men talked my mom into ordering some rather than use the extract as usual. Lelo (Hungarian) was emphatic about not chilling the vanilla beans because it (in his words) steal-ess zuh assance frum zuh banahs. (We did have a bit of difficulty with communication in the early days and Lelo's teenage son spent a lot of time interpreting.) The other baker was too shy about trying to use English so we became proficient at sign language until he and Lelo got through the adult classes offered at the high school. (My mom sponsored two pastry chefs and their families who were refugees after the Hungarian revolt in 1956.)

Anyway, I believe that refrigeration was not intended for everything and some fruits are ruined by it. I keep my immediate use vanilla beans in glass vials with ground glass stoppers that are in turn inside ziploc bags and keep the extras in the glass vials in vacuum sealed bags. I always have one in one or more of the sugar jars. I also have one (chopped and split to expose the seeds) in brandy and a couple in a double-sealed vial of Everclear. After these have released some of their essense into the liquor, I will strain them out and use them in something else, there will still be a lot of flavor left.


"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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when making vanilla extract, is there a prefarable vanilla bean(tahitian or bourbon?) and what brand of vodka to use?

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Thanks for the tip on where to buy vanilla beans. The best ones I've ever used were fresh beans I bought home from Tahiti. Unfortunately, I can't do that nearly as often as I would like.

Bruce

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I've heard nothing but raves about the vanilla beans from Vanilla International. Many people on the Fine Cooking forum have recommended this company, and call the owner the "Vanilla Man." His beans are supposed to be of the highest quality and very reasonably priced. Here's the link:

http://stores.ebay.com/Vanilla-Internation...genameZl2QQtZkm


There's nothing better than a good friend, except a good friend with CHOCOLATE.

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when making vanilla extract, is there a prefarable vanilla bean(tahitian or bourbon?) and what brand of vodka to use?

I use the Bourbon beans from the Vanilla Company for making extract.

I use Everclear, 95% grain alcohol which extracts much more flavor than even 100 proof vodka. It is not legal to sell in all states but one can buy it and transport it without penalty.

The extract made with this product is far superior to other home made products I have tried and to many commercial products. There is no residual flavor from other sources and more of the complex flavors of the vanilla can be both scented and tasted in the product.

I have been making my own flavorings for many years and have had good success.

If you can't find a source for Everclear near where you live, it is available on the 'net.

Otherwise use the strongest vodka you can get. It makes a world of difference in extracting the flavor.

The only other way to get the full benefit of the extract is to use a distillation process which requires an investment in some relatively inexpensive laboratory glassware.


"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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I've heard nothing but raves about the vanilla beans from Vanilla International. Many people on the Fine Cooking forum have recommended this company, and call the owner the "Vanilla Man." His beans are supposed to be of the highest quality and very reasonably priced. Here's the link:

http://stores.ebay.com/Vanilla-Internation...genameZl2QQtZkm

I have been buying vanilla beans from that guy on ebay for a few years now. His service is great and the product is fantastic. It is superior in quality to what you get in most stores and a lot cheaper.

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I ordered 1/4 # of vanilla beans and an ounce of saffron from golden gate as GG Mora recommended. Placed the order on line on Sunday. Today is Wednesday and they are here! The beans look, feel and smell great and the saffron does too. Great tip!

BTW - 1/4 # of beans turned out to be 40 pieces. I didn't count the saffron threads.

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thought i'd add my 2 cents here. i was recently in mexico in the playa del carmen area and decided to look for some mexican vanilla beans. no luck, lots of extract though. Some looked harmless. Alot said "does not contain coumarin" which is an extract from tonka beans. it tastes like vanilla and some countries allow it as an "extender". it does have anticoagulent properties. The medication called coumadin is given to heart patients as a blood thinner and it is a derivative of coumarin. There were some scarier looking "extracto's" there that were supposidly for medicinal purposes and had ingredients like "agua emulsificada" ....emulsified water ? needless to say, i didn't bother. I went for a nice box of romeo and julietas instead.


...and if you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce it tastes alot more like prunes than rhubarb does. groucho

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Bumping this thread to ask specifically about Ebay sources for vanilla beans. There are quite a few companies selling vanilla beans on Ebay.

Which sellers have you bought from, and were you pleased with the quality? Which sellers are offering better quality beans? Are there non-Ebay (mail order) sources that are competitive in terms of price/quality ratio?

Thanks in advance.


Edited by sanrensho (log)

Baker of "impaired" cakes...

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I recently purchased some from www.bulkfoods.com. I'm no expert, but they seemed really good. Packed with seeds and not dry at all.

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I have some from Penzeys and been happy with them for ice cream.

Guess the one that's been in my fridge for a year might be past its prime! D'oh! The top of the door seemed like a good place for that glass vial of goodness...

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This is my source for Vanilla Bean: Marque Foods

I can't remember the exact price, but I think I paid about $22 for a pack, which had about 20-25 bourbon beans. This was in December last year.

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I like this place: Vanilla, saffron imports

I've purchased vanilla beans, extracts, and saffron. Excellent quality, great service, reasonable price, free samples. What more could you ask for?

Here's the link for their various beans.


Ilene

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We went to Mexico recently and also saw "interesting" types of vanilla. We were in search of the brand "Martha's" which is clear and exceptionally fragrant. A friend brought some back from Mazatlan last year, but we couldn't find it. All other pale in comparison. I've had more compliments in sugar cookies, cakes than ever before and the clarity doesn't compromise the color of vanilla buttercreams, mints, etc. Anyone know a source for Martha's? (Not Stewart!)

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I need a good source for vanilla beans - my source has closed shop. Thanks.


There's nothing better than a good friend, except a good friend with CHOCOLATE.

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I need a good source for vanilla beans - my source has closed shop. Thanks.

I use L'epicerie www.lepicerie.com. They have always been pretty good and not excessively expensive.

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I need a good source for vanilla beans - my source has closed shop. Thanks.

I use L'epicerie www.lepicerie.com. They have always been pretty good and not excessively expensive.

Thank you!


There's nothing better than a good friend, except a good friend with CHOCOLATE.

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This is where I get mine.  Very nice beans and wide variety.

http://www.arizonavanilla.com/

You know, I was checking on Amazon for vanilla beans earlier today, and saw this company listed - Both the beans and the company itself had high ratings and great reviews. Thanks so much for your recommendation!


There's nothing better than a good friend, except a good friend with CHOCOLATE.

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