Vanilla is a versatile ingredient that lends its aromatic essence to various recipes, from savory dishes to desserts. While its extract is a common choice for recipes, its paste variety also adds a special touch to cooking and baking.
At Vanilla Bean Kings, we stock premium quality vanilla beans from real farmers. Keep reading to learn how to make homemade paste using our vanilla pods.
What is Vanilla Bean Paste
Vanilla bean paste or vanilla paste is a blend of ground vanilla bean pods with concentrated vanilla extract and possibly thickeners. It includes bean specks because it uses the whole vanilla bean pod.
Our Gourmet Madagascar vanilla bean paste is carefully crafted with our most popular vanilla bean, the Madagascar vanilla bean. A spoonful of the paste has a generous infusion of real vanilla bean seeds and a consistency similar to maple syrup.
We use natural thickeners to achieve the right viscosity for various desserts, such as crème brûlée, custard, cupcakes, and shortbread. Use the paste when vanilla is the recipe's chief ingredient (like in vanilla cake) instead of when the flavor is just a minor ingredient (like in sugar cookies).
The paste is the perfect substitute for vanilla extract, ground vanilla bean powder, vanilla bean sugar, and whole vanilla bean pods. The measurement for each type is roughly equivalent. One teaspoon of vanilla paste equals one teaspoon of vanilla powder.
To be extra safe, if you'd like to substitute a recipe that calls for vanilla extract, use a bit less paste than is suggested. For example, if a recipe suggests 1 tsp vanilla extract, try just under 1 tsp of vanilla bean paste to start. If a recipe calls for 1 tsp vanilla bean paste, start with a heavy tsp of vanilla extract. Use a clean utensil to taste test and adjust as needed!
What is Vanilla Extract?
Vanilla extract is made by submerging vanilla beans in a jar containing alcohol and sometimes distilled water. (such as vodka, brandy, or bourbon). The alcohol helps to extract the rich flavor and increases the shelf life of the extract.
Because pure vanilla extract is expensive and takes a long time to produce, food scientists created an artificial extract. It's also called imitation vanilla extract since it doesn't use vanilla beans.
Imitation vanilla extract is typically a fine substitute for pure vanilla extract if you're using it in baked goods like cookies, cakes, and brownies. However, it leaves a bitter aftertaste if you use it in creams, icing, custard, and puddings.
You can easily make pure extract using our homemade vanilla extract kit. Everything you'll need is included, with the exception of liquor. We suggest at least 70 proof, and no more than 100 proof. If using everclear or similar strength liquors, dilute the spirits 50/50 by adding distilled water.
Vanilla Bean Pastes vs. Vanilla Extracts: Key Differences
Below are the key differences between vanilla bean pastes and vanilla extracts.
- Flavor: Unlike the extract, the paste has a more concentrated flavor profile due to the addition of a ground vanilla bean pod with seeds.
- Appearance: The extract is an amber-colored liquid that doesn't contain seeds, while the paste is thick and flecked with black vanilla bean seeds.
- Shelf life: Vanilla extract has a longer shelf life, and like wine, it gets better as it ages. Vanilla paste doesn't last quite as long as the extract, but you can still keep it for several years if stored properly.
How to Make Homemade Vanilla Bean Paste
Vanilla paste is a key player for every serious baker and chef, and you can quickly whip up your own homemade vanilla bean paste.
- Whole vanilla beans
- Vanilla extract
- Corn syrup
There are many different types of vanilla beans across continents, but the popular types are Madagascar, Mexican, Ugandan, and Tahitian. Each has a unique flavor. For instance, the Madagascar vanilla bean has a creamy flavor, while the Tahitian vanilla pod has a fruity flavor.
Also, you should take note of the vanilla bean grade. For our homemade vanilla bean paste recipe, we'll use Organic Madagascar Grade A vanilla pods since they're suitable for both extraction and baking.
The grade B variant is perfect for making vanilla extracts. You can also use it for baking and cooking, but it's not always as easy to work with as the gourmet Grade A beans.
Additionally, you should use homemade vanilla extract, or you can order Vanilla Bean Kings' 100% pure vanilla extract if you don't have the luxury of time.
Corn syrup acts as a thickener in the recipe. However, you can use sugar syrup or healthier options like honey and agave nectar.
- Place the vanilla beans on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Bake them in a 170°F oven for 30 minutes or until they're dry (not burnt).
- Let the beans cool and become brittle, then cut them into small bits.
- Grind the dry beans in a spice or coffee grinder.
- Puree the vanilla powder, vanilla extract, and corn syrup (or your preferred thickener) in a food processor until you get a smooth consistency.
- Place a sieve over a clean bowl, then pour in the mixture.
- Press the pulp with a spatula to get as much vanilla paste as possible.
- Pour the vanilla paste into a clean jar and store it in a cool, dry place.
Pro Tips: Instead of discarding the pulp, you can use it to make your next batch of vanilla extract. You can also dry your vanilla beans by leaving them on your kitchen countertop for about two weeks.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Long Does Vanilla Paste Last?
Vanilla paste can last up to two years when stored in a cool, dark place. Don't store it in the refrigerator, as it'll absorb moisture, which will ruin the vanilla flavor.
What is the Benefit of Vanilla Bean Paste?
Vanilla paste and other vanilla bean products are popular for their flavors. However, they contain chemical compounds that may possess anti-inflammatory, anti-aging, and antioxidant properties.
Unlike vanilla extract, vanilla bean paste offers an amazing way to use vanilla beans without waiting for several months. You can use our recipe to create your own version of the paste. Don't forget to check out the Vanilla Bean King catalog to see all the authentic products we offer.