Spotlight Spice: Madagascar Vanilla Beans
This week’s Spotlight Spice is one you might not have seen in the shop – our Madagascar Vanilla Beans. We keep our vanilla beans in an airtight container behind the counter, in a cool and dark place. We recommend you store them the same way at home.
The bean comes from orchids in the Vanilla genus and is the root of all things vanilla (think extracts, paste, sugar, and more). Pollination must occur for the plant to fruit, and it’s often done by hand. Because of the labor-intensive process, vanilla is only second to saffron in its cost.
Madagascar beans are the most common vanilla beans. They’re buttery, creamy, and full of rich vanilla flavor – a favorite for vanilla ice cream and custard.
To use the bean, carefully cut the pod in half lengthwise, then scrape the inside to remove the beans. When using in a recipe, 1 bean equates to approximately 1 tsp. of vanilla paste/extract.
To make your own extract at home, split four vanilla beans, place them in a jar, then cover with alcohol (we typically use Vodka). Seal the jar tightly and store for up to 12 months in a cool and dark place. Your extract will be ready to use in a couple of months. Sample the extract by putting a drop in a spoonful of milk. If you like the flavor, have at it. If not, then let it sit for another 3-4 weeks. Pro tip: Give the jar a shake or two every few weeks.
Don’t chuck your spent bean pods! You can use them to flavor sugar or salt. Just chuck them in an airtight jar with the sugar or salt and set aside until you’re ready to use – delish!