I'm not sure if this is the correct place to post this question.
I recently went overseas to Indonesian and bought some vanilla beans. The problem is they smell like tobacco, like the tobacco leaf. Indonesian has a lot of tobacco fields. These beans came from a local bakery there and were just kept in a tall glass jar with a lid that just sat on top. The beans themselves were in a clear plastic bag that was somewhat heat sealed. They were not vacuum packed.
Some were also turning greenish/whitish on me before I even left the country. A lot of them were driveled up almost and very dry. When I smell the actual vanilla bean on m finger it still has this tobacco hint to it. It's not very vanilla-y. I've used them in a vanilla cake and buttercream recipe and they didn't make the cake/icing taste bad, but I can't say they really enhanced them either. I still used vanilla extract alongside the beans in my recipes.
I've Googled this question and I just find where someone said their beans smelled like prunes and tobacco or just tobacco, but no one commented to say that it was normal. I've read that Tahitian beans may have a hint of tobacco.
So, anyone have any information to share with on this matter? This is actually my first time working with vanilla bean so I don't have anything to compare it to. I've smelled vanilla bean purchased from Whole Foods before and it smelled very nice. My mom made homemade vanilla extract with it and it seemed good, not like tobacco.
oh how sad!!
the ones turning color are definitely going moldy so those are out
the tobacco smelling ones? i would be pretty disappointed if it was me
i had this really wonderful vanilla/butter powder product from king arthur once i loved to use it--was mellow and upt the ante on different things--so easy to use
i stored it in this drawer where i store all extracts, oils, gums, chemicals and my lavendar
oh my goodness!
after a while i went to put the van/but powder into something (it particualrly enhanced almond bark aka fake chocolate where you simply could not stop eating it!) the lavandar had permeated the lovely van/but so much it was wonky and i tossed it...sniff...i don't think they even make it anymore
but anyhow--i would be loathe to put tobacco accented stuff in my icing or cake
that's a real shame
hope you don't have a ton of it or anything
really it's a crime almost
but i had lavendar bite my vanilla product so vanilla is real tichy touchy that way
not to mention
hey fellow ten oh see an!!!
ok--was just reading up on my vanilla information
and it states paraphrasing here--that indonesion vanilla is 'smokier' than other vanillas.
"They have a sharper* woodier tone to them. Those picked too early and cured over wood fires** also have a thinner flavor with a definite smoky tone."
from The Story of Vanilla by Chat Nielson Jr of Nielsen-Massey Vanillas inc
*being compared to mexico and bourbon islands vanilla
madagscar are the best, chat states
**so i betcha they use tobacco for some fuel on the fire huh
even if yours were just stored near the smokey ones it would pick up the traits
I am the co-founder of a vanilla company here in the USA and I think I can help you out a little. First the tobacco smell: Some, but not all, Indonesian vanilla beans are cured using a heat source by burning wood. This tends to leave some of the beans with a smokey or hickory-like smell (we sun cure our Indonesian pods to avoid this). If the pods were simply not cured correctly then they may put off what we call in the industry, a phenolic smell. Poorly cured pods will also tend to mold more easily....which seems to be the case with your stash.
Now for the yellow and white spots: If you touch the pod with your finger and and the heat of your finger causes the spots to melt or disappear then what you are seeing is actually the vanallin in the pod crystalizing on the surface of the pod. If this is not what you are experiencing then it is mold. If it is not too far advanced you can "clean" the pods with some vanilla extract which is 35% alcohol or wipe them with some vodka. The yellow mold will grow on the body of the pod and is quite persistent and you might have to throw the pods away. If it is white mold then it is usually growing on the tips of the pod and is easily killed by wiping as described above.
Dried out: If you solve the mold problem and the pods are usable but dry then we have a solution to that as well. A nice vanilla pod is easy to wrap around your finger. They should be at about 25% moisture content. If they are dry you can actually rehydrate them by placing them in a zip lock bag with about a tablespoon or two of water and let them sit for a couple of days.
Hope this helps. Enjoy!
wow thank you so much!!! 'co-founder of a u.s. vanilla company'!!!!
drop by any time!!!
hey i have a question, please
the 35% alcohol in the extract--if i was 'making' vanilla from pods + brandy or whatever alcohol
what is the correct proportion of alcohol to get the 35%?
because the alcohol has a percentage as well--how do those correspond to each other?
literally 2 parts water and one part alcohol???
i just 'made' it for a few gifts--and i just soaked the pods in alcohol for a few weeks
very primitive but it made a sweet gift to my kidlettes plus some vanilla sugar
could you perhaps explain that ratio for me??? i know the 35 is vital for it to become an extract but i don't know how to get there.
again thank you so much for dropping by and enlightening us!!!!
and i certainly enjoy Chat Nielsen Jr's lovely booklet!!!!
the picture on page 8 of the box chock full of vanilla pods is ethereally intoxicating
and who knew the booklet is available online!!!
again thank you so very much for stopping by and sharing your vanilla wisdom with us
have a sweet and aromatic day!!!
UGHHHHHHHHhhhhh - honestly, THROW THEM AWAY.
You dont want to know where they are grown - what they are grown in - and how they are kept before they are sold to gullable visitors...
Do yourself a favor AND DON'T USE THEM
Makes me ill just reading your story and at the thought that you would buy them - ughhhh.
Never buy a food item from somewhere where you have no idea of its origin - you are seriously asking for trouble.... especially from over there.
I bet you bought them dirt cheap - actually i know you did from over there.... you got what you paid for - absolute filthy rubbish....
again i say ughhhhhhhhhh- cough - gag - ughhhhhhhhhhhhhh
You really should relax, Bluehue. First, 'gullible' visitor? You're not familiar with me to know where I go frequently or infrequently or even my nationality or ethnicity. What kind of origin are your beans from? You've met the farmer? Do your beans say Madagascar or some other country? You really want to imply that you know the exact origin of your beans? If so, do tell us all where you're getting them from and the exact address of the farm and their growing procedures. Reading it on their website does not count.
You must have some weird hangup with Indonesia. Your comment was useless and unnecessary AND offensive. In fact I think I'll report it because it was absolute filthy rubbish ughhhh cough gag ughhh.. Really? That's what you have to contribute?
Thank you, Mparisien, for your helpful comment. I will look at the beans more closely and decide what to do.
ASpeaking of filthy gross, etc., I was across the border today in Mexico and was marvelling at all the gross plastic bottles of vanilla. Now they all got with the program and swear to be coumarin free, but the cheap faded labels nd general icky look they all had don't fool me. And they had real beans individually wrapped for sales also that snapped in half when you gave them a slight bend.
Brandy is 40% alcohol 59% water 1% volatiles.
Vanilla extract is 35% alcohol 5% vaniila resin 60% water/other.
So--no math, no dilution. Soak the beans in brandy or rum or vodka or any other 40% (80 US proof) spirit.
After 2 months, cut open all beans and mix the same liquid back in. Soak again for another 4 months. Shake weekly to get the liquid into all the nooks and crannies.
How many beans? Depends on how strong you like. Standard commercial vanilla is 100 beans per gallon or 20 beans per fifth of liquor. How strong can you go? At least 60 beans per fifth.
You really should relax, Bluehue. First, 'gullible' visitor? You're not familiar with me to know where I go frequently or infrequently or even my nationality or ethnicity.What kind of origin are your beans from? You've met the farmer? Do your beans say Madagascar or some other country? You really want to imply that you know the exact origin of your beans? If so, do tell us all where you're getting them from and the exact address of the farm and their growing procedures. Reading it on their website does not count.
You posted a question - i posted an honest reply....
Your nationality or where you go frequently has nothing to do with it.... niether of which are of my concern and nor do i care.
As for your ethinicity......... i dont care.....
Your talking *food*
I stand by my conviction - you buy dirty mouldy food products... from a country that is renoun for such products - what do you expect...
If as you say you know about food items from Indoneasia, then you would also be well aware that they DO NOT have the Health departments that the Western Countries have - and why do you think that is....hmmmmmmmmm.
I think you would be very hard pressed to find anyone on here to back you up if they actually knew and understood the conditions many food items are grown under from Indonesia.....
Why on earth you would even consider keeping such a food item beggers belief.
What - you don't think every country has cheap nasty inports - one doesnt have to travel overseas to buy them.
Yes actually - i do know where my Vanilla Beans come from - and no, i am not foolish enough to believe everything one reads on a web site.... nor buy cheap crap to save a dollar....
And i will state again - i know exactely how the beans you bought are grown and stored....
And again i will gag at the thought of it.
Good grief.... do you not know the first thing about food safety?
No, my post was not useless....it stated facts.... which if you bothered to consider - you would think it useful.
In fact I think I'll report it because it was absolute filthy rubbish ughhhh cough gag ughhh.. Really? That's what you have to contribute?
Yes, thats what i have to contribute - report away....
But whats worse, you didnt have the forsight to throw them away after seeing what they were like.
I am surprised you even got through customs with them when entering back into the States. If mouldy as you state - then they should have been declared..... because mold being a fungi is not allowed to be bought through customs in America - just like Australia.....for the simple fact that it can and will be airborn.....
So before you blast away at me.... stop and think of the ramifications of your actions.....
If you dont think food safety - and you get offended when someone speaks the truth about rotten food - then hey - go right ahead.... you have been told what to do with them....your choice...albeit apparently a very poor one.
And no, cheap doesnt always have to mean nasty - but in your case with the Indonesian Vanilla Beans - it surely does.
once again Bluehue, relax. Why are you assuming I bought indonesian vanilla beans to be cheap? The beans looked in just fine condition when I bought them?
You realize that people sell beans that are grown in Indo. People speak highly of Indonesian vanilla beans.
Speaking of filthy gross, etc., I was across the border today in Mexico and was marvelling at all the gross plastic bottles of vanilla. Now they all got with the program and swear to be coumarin free, but the cheap faded labels nd general icky look they all had don't fool me. And they had real beans individually wrapped for sales also that snapped in half when you gave them a slight bend.
I just received my beans today and I'll be making my own extract. I'm 20 minutes away from Mexico and while people rave about Mexican vanilla, I am scared to use it. I'd rather use a reputable brand for extract or beans.
I believe there is some reputable vanilla from there, no doubt about it. But it ain't the flimsy plastic bottles with dust all over them with cheaply printed labels in every single little shop and pharmacy in the border towns.
Yeah, I'm sure you're right. You just really have to look I guess. But yeah, I wouldn't want flimsy bottles either.
once again Bluehue, relax. Why are you assuming I bought indonesian vanilla beans to be cheap? Lolllll, because they do not sell high grade VB's...thats why You have really made a lot of assumptions in your rants. lollllll
The beans looked in just fine condition when I bought them so why do you keep insisting that I saw a terrible product and bought it anyway? Oh, probably because before you left the country you noticed this......Some were also turning greenish/whitish on me before I even left the country. It's as if you're not really reading what I wrote i surely did..
You realize that people sell beans that are grown in Indo. Well of course they do - isn't that what this thread is all about..... People speak highly of Indonesian vanilla beans. Lollll, WHO - name one person... if you knew your VB's then you would rethink that sentance..
The strength of vanilla extract in the USA is regulated by the FDA. If you are wishing to make your vanilla extract comparable in strength to that which you can purchase at a store then the ration is as follows: 13.45 ounces of vanilla beans extracted into one gallon of water and 35% alcohol. This will produce what is called "single fold" or "1x strength" vanilla extract. To make double fold (2x) you simply keep the the water/alcohol mixture the same and double the vanilla beans to 26.7 ounces. Of course you may not wish to make a gallon at a time so you just reduce all in proportion. So if you would like to make a quart then you use 1/4 of the vanilla beans specified above. Vodka really makes the best medium for this. It is already at 35% alcohol and comes in reasonable sizes. I see that someone else posted 40% alcohol is what they use. There is nothing wrong with this. The extracts in Canada and Australia seem to be at about this percentage of alcohol. Make sure you chop up the vanilla beans before you put them in the bottle.
Of course it is less expensive to just buy vanilla extract but when you make your own you can experiment with vanilla bean pods from different regions to make different taste profiles. For example, you mention Nielsen Massey's products (a friendly competitor of ours). They have excellent product but it will have a very different taste profile from our vanilla or another company's offerings. Many chef's that we work with keep a stock of vanilla from a couple different suppliers. Although people use the word "vanilla" to mean plain or simple it is actually an extraordinary flavor with amazing complexity and is a joy to experiment with. Enjoy!
OK gals, I'm getting out my red pen and deleting/editing posts.
Golden rule: BE NICE.
Age-regression in progress here, folks.
Actually, this is getting locked. I've left in relevant debate points, but all personal attacks and responses to the personal attack has been deleted.