Last year, a friend of mine and I made vanilla to give for Christmas gifts. We bought the beans at Trader Joe's and I really think we can do better than that price-wise. We don't need a large quantity. We'll probably just make about 8 to 12 ounces of vanilla extract each. We might also make some vanilla sugar.
Does anyone have a great online source without buying a huge quantity? When vacations are over, we are going to start a batch and begin some other Christmas presents.
I really appreciate the help!
I don't have a supplier to recommend, but a tip on the vanilla sugar. Once you are done with your vanilla beans (either for extract, cooking, or whatever application), rinse and dry them on a rack, then put the entire pod into your food processor with the sugar and pulse to incorporate it with the sugar. Definitely gets more bang for your buck out of those pricey beans!
Thanks for your suggestion. I'll definitely give it a try!
Anyone else have any great sources for vanilla beans?
I get mine on ebay, too. The seller is The Organic Vanilla Bean store.
Great quality and very reasonable prices and shipping. I've bought from them several times.
I recently purchased beans through eBay from Vanilla Products USA. Quantities vary from 1/4 lb to 1 lb packages. I bought a half pound of Tahitians and a half pound of Madagascars, both Grade A, for $12.99 each. I ended up with an extra half pound of Tahitians as a bonus - all in all with shipping it was about $30.
I opened them up today to check them out, put a little more vanilla extract up (about 10 beans in a 16 oz mason jar with rotgut vodka). I also made a vanilla pastry cream with one of the Tahitians that I'll use as a filling for a fruit tart this weekend. Very nice beans with a lot of aroma.
If you store the beans properly (they need to be airtight in a dark cupboard), they should last a good long while, so don't be too afraid to splurge on half a pound.
You can definately use them to make vanilla sugar. Since I was making a custard base for my pastry cream today, I split the vanilla bean and scraped the seeds, then added the whole bean to the milk I brought up to a boil. Added the seeds, pulled the pod out, rinsed and dried it, then added it to the 2 quart jar of vanilla extract that I have brewing.
Thanks for the 3 very interesting suggestions! Now to figure out how to decide which to try!