Sourcing: Vanilla Bean
Tahitian Vanilla Beans
ne 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:
- Tim Mazurek's (of Lottie + Doof) Cranberry and Vanilla Bean Sorbet looks fabulous. And how about subbing in strawberries for the cranberries (and probably lessening the amount of sugar) to celebrate the season?
- Jump on he bandwagon with Lauren at Healthy-Delicious and recreate her pretty, pretty Lavendar-Vanilla Bean Macarons. Mmmmmm.
- Try the classic lobster-vanilla bean pairing with this Lobster Salad with Champagne Vanilla Bean Vinaigrette. This has serious potential to make any sweetheart (or Mother) melt.