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Plain Vanilla
July 31, 2014 10:35 AM   Subscribe

VanillaReview.com provides reviews of online vanilla bean sources. If you want to give homemade vanilla extract to your friends and family this Giftmas, now's the time to get started. But don't stop there -- you can also learn about vanilla frost, vanilla bean grading, vanilla growing, and even vanilla tattoos, which are used to prevent vanilla rustling.

Vanilla is available from online retailers for significantly better prices -- and with significantly better quality. However, the quality of online vendors can vary significantly.
posted by pie ninja (12 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 




Plain vanilla? That's plan wrong.

Isn't it weird that "chocolate" and "vanilla," the two Default Sweet Flavors in, at the very least, America, are like... freaky Amazonian jungle tree pods and orchid beans?
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:11 AM on July 31 [3 favorites]


Little jars of vanilla sugar have been my go-to holiday gift for friends for the past few years. Warning: it will ruin putting plain old regular boring sugar in your coffee for the rest of your life.
posted by marshmallow peep at 11:15 AM on July 31 [3 favorites]


Little jars of vanilla sugar have been my go-to holiday gift for friends for the past few years. Warning: it will ruin putting plain old regular boring sugar in your coffee for the rest of your life.

OK. You have me intrigued. Next question: Where is the best place to buy whole vanilla beans?
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 11:20 AM on July 31


Next question: Where is the best place to buy whole vanilla beans?

You can get them on Amazon! I actually heard that from an ice cream making class a couple weeks back - the teacher was also the one who told us about the whole "Grade B" vanilla bean tip, and raved about how the cost was so dramatically different "even though you're getting the same flavor, it just doesn't look as pretty as the beans in the supermarket". You can get a quarter pound for about 20 bucks.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:26 AM on July 31 [1 favorite]


Next question: Where is the best place to buy whole vanilla beans?

I hear there's this great site called vanillareview.com that reviews online vanilla bean sources. Someone should make an FPP about it.
posted by yoink at 11:28 AM on July 31 [11 favorites]


Fine, fine. I'm a dolt. What do you expect? I'm still delirious from the thought of vanilla sugar!
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 11:30 AM on July 31 [1 favorite]


I actually posted this because I got so depressed by the little stem-like vanilla beans at Trader Joe's last weekend ($4 for 2!) that I ordered a big batch of beans from Beanilla (reviewed on the site, btw -- it's where I found them). They are deliciously plump and moist and just waiting to be turned into ice cream. They were also less than $1/bean (and I could have ordered more for a much lower price -- mine are Grade A for cooking purposes like ice cream and custard, and I don't go through them fast enough to order that many at one time).

Beanilla isn't the cheapest place out there, and they sometimes run out of items, but their quality and service are excellent. And they have free shipping on beans right now! (No affiliation with them, I just really like their product.)

Penzey's also sells a high-quality product, as you'd expect, but the pricing is crazy (like $3/bean) and I find Beanilla's quality to be as good or better.
posted by pie ninja at 11:31 AM on July 31 [2 favorites]


There are always jars of vanilla sugar on the go at our house! I bought some pricey heavenly sticky beans a year or so ago and I store them super carefully so they get doled out for special use.
posted by Kitteh at 11:31 AM on July 31


I bought a big ol' bundle of vanilla beans on eBay ages ago after seeing recommendations on the Cook's Illustrated forums for a particular seller (Vanilla Products USA, if you want to see VanillaReview's...vanilla...review...); I paid like $20 for 3/4 of a pound which ended up being approximately ONE TRAZILLION beans. It was such a good deal that I am still sort of deliriously smug every time I see those sad, single supermarket beans in their little test tubes. I highly recommend that seller although I do agree with VanillaReview's note that you need to be careful about what size/grade/type you are buying because the design of their listings is very 1999.
posted by bcwinters at 11:50 AM on July 31


I have vanilla sugar in my coffee every Saturday morning. It's quite delicious. Even more delicious is splitting a bean into the brew and leaving it to infuse for a while, but you waste a whole bean doing this. Do not be tempted to try vanilla bean paste, that stuff is mostly sugar.

I put some vanilla pods in a cheap-o bottle of vodka that materialised* in a cupboard about a year ago, and gave myself a fright when I cleared the cupboard out a week or two back back. Brown twiggy things in dark liquid, in a vodka bottle. I have yet to try the extract, thinking about it.

The vanilla flower is kinda weird looking, like a banana skin crossed with a datura.

*Seriously, nobody in the house knows where it's come from.
posted by Solomon at 2:19 PM on July 31


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