April 19, 2010

Sourcing: Vanilla Bean

Tahitian Vanilla Beans
One of the things I've missed most since baking in a professional kitchen has been ready access to chubby, long, moist caviar-filled vanilla beans. As a home cook, the return on investment for grocery store vanilla beans just isn't there. Even upscale groceries' vanilla beans tend to be brittle, dry and past their prime for scraping into a pan of bubbling butterscotch pudding, pastry cream, muffin or cake batter; not at all worth their high cost. But fear not...

The Organic Vanilla Bean Company is an on-line source for the best-of-the-best vanilla beans at an extremely reasonable cost. It is possible, if you choose their 5" beans, to pay 50 cents a piece, a little more for the longer (up to 7"+) beans. They come in reasonably sized packages, and shipping costs are nominal. Prompt delivery is a plus as well. I've ordered both their Tahitian and Bourbon vanilla beans several times, and have been pleased all the way around.

Be fairly warned: Occasionally The Organic Vanilla Bean Company is out of stock on several (or all, as I found out today when researching this piece) of their beans. In the past I've waited for a couple of weeks for their stocks to be replenished so that I could place an order. Maybe you'll learn to do like me, and place an order well before you've run out to so that you always have a few in your pantry. Besides, what home baker wouldn't love a vanilla bean as a host/hostess gift?? A few extra is never a problem.

The Organic Vanilla Bean Company website is also really interesting. The pages on vanilla history, how to buy vanilla, and tips on when to use Bourbon and when to use Tahitian varieties are helpful and engaging.

So what will you do with all the vanilla beans you are about to possess? Here are some fun ideas for applying the warm, earthy and deepening flavors of the vanilla bean:


  1. Thanks for the interesting post, I have vanilla beans in my pantry and love to use them. I have a recipe for challah with vanilla that I want to try.

  2. Thanks for the shout out! I've also been able to find great vanillas beans (nice fat, moist ones) in the bulk section of our local natural foods co-op! That might be another place for people to check out.

  3. Cool thanks for the links. I always need another source for my ice creams.

  4. Thanks for sharing and for the website link!

  5. Thanks for the interesting information!

  6. thanks for the info...I will be ordering some straight away. I love cooking with vanilla beans and as you said, it is rare to find any in the store that are worty of the hefty price tag.

  7. great post..thanks for the link I need vanilla beans..love them..


  8. I'm too frugal with vanilla beans. I'm afraid to use them in anything other than making my own vanilla extract, since it lasts longer and I don't risk wasting a lovely bean on something that didn't turn out well.

    I'd really love to have a great supply of them on hand for cheap, but maybe even then I'd still just be making vanilla extract. ;)

  9. I've been wondering where to get my vanilla beans. Last year I purchased at Costco. I'm curious, what is difference between the tahitian and bourbon?


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