Where does vanilla come from?
Vanilla is a climbing orchid vine that produces a pod that looks like a string bean. The vanilla orchid flowers are white, tinged with a bit of green. They don’t smell like vanilla. They don’t have any fragrance at all. The orchid blossom only lasts for a day.
Vanilla is grown in several different areas of the world. Each has a slightly different flavor.
There is Mexican Vanilla which is considered to be bold, and dark. Indian Vanilla has a full, almost chocolatey flavour. Indonesian Vanilla is quite mild. Tahitian Vanilla has a floral touch. Tonga Vanilla is earthy, with a bit of a fig or raisin taste.
Madagascar Vanilla is rich and creamy and is especially coveted because it is considered by many (including us) to be the very best vanilla in the entire world. That is why we supply only the finest Madagascar premium vanilla beans.
How do the beans come packaged?
Your vanilla beans will come vacuum sealed. They are sealed using commercial grade equipment sealing each bag to a 28HG vacuum strength that will ensure freshness for weeks and even years!
If you have purchased a vanilla extract kit, your vanilla beans will be packaged in glass vials.
Each package also contains our signature label and quick storage instructions!
How do I store the beans?
The vanilla beans you will receive from Vanilla Bean Kings are fresh, oily and pliable. The quality and moisture can be retained by following these storage guidelines:
Remove the Vanilla Beans from the Package When Ready for Use
For vacuum sealed packages, do not break the seal until you intend to use the vanilla beans. If you have not used the beans after 6 months, it is recommended that the beans be removed from the package anyway to air out then be resealed.
You may see some brown liquid in the vacuum sealed package. This is simply oil that has been squeezed out of the vanilla beans as they were vacuum sealed. It is quite common, and completely normal.
If your vanilla arrives in a glass vial, it is recommended the beans be removed from the vial within 3 to 4 months. Be sure that the glass vial is air tight!
You will want to store your vanilla beans in an airtight glass or plastic container. We recommend them to be wrapped in plastic wrap or wax paper, within the container. Try to squeeze out the air from the container best you can to prevent drying out your vanilla beans. In a pinch, a Ziploc bag will work for a very short amount of time but we HIGHLY recommend using only sealed vacuum pouches or airtight glass vials to ensure freshness. If the beans have access to air, mold may develop as our gourmet beans have a 30% - 35% moisture content.
Where to Store Vanilla Beans
Once you have wrapped your beans and placed them in the airtight container or pouch, store your vanilla beans in a cool dark place. In a pantry along with your other spices would be ideal. Never put your vanilla beans in the fridge or freezer. The refrigeration of vanilla beans can cause excess moisture buildup and a mold specific to vanilla beans may develop.
Your premium quality vanilla beans need to be aired out regularly. Remove each bean from the airtight container once every few weeks. Allow the air to circulate around them for a few minutes before returning to air tight container or pouch.
How long can they be stored?
Stored correctly and according to our instructions above, premium vanilla beans can last up to a couple of years. It is recommended you purchase the quantity you intend to use within 4 or 6 months.
How do I split a vanilla bean?
Your vanilla beans may be a bit thick skinned, so splitting them requires a bit of care. Once you have done it once, you will find it easy enough.
Step 1 – Put the vanilla beans on a cutting board with their flat side down, facing away from you. The curled tip will be pointing toward the left- hand side of the cutting board.
Step 2 – Place the tip of your sharp knife in the middle of the vanilla bean, slightly below the curled top.
Step 3 – Carefully cut into the vanilla bean while you hold the top down on the board. Use your left index finger and thumb to hold it. Only slice the top layer of the bean. Do not cut through to the other side. Slice along the middle until you get to the end.
If you are using the bean whole, like to make extract, you are done. The bean is split.
Step 4 – If your recipe requires the vanilla bean caviar be removed, pull apart the vanilla bean, slightly. Hold the bean on the cutting board. Turn the knife sideways and run the blade from the curled top to the bottom of the vanilla bean. The caviar will easily slide off the vanilla bean skin onto your knife in a thick, gooey lump.
Can I use Grade A vanilla beans in vanilla extract?
Yes, absolutely. This is what we recommend if you are looking for exceptional gourmet quality vanilla extract.
Grade A vanilla beans are called prime, or gourmet beans. They are oily, and retain their moisture. The better flavor profile of the Grade A vanilla beans makes for a richer, more flavorful, higher quality vanilla extract. This is why so many gourmet bakers insist on extracts made with Grade A vanilla beans.
Grade B vanilla beans are drier, less attractive and are commonly used commercially. This is the grocery store vanilla you have encountered before. Very few bakers want vanilla made with Grade B vanilla bean after experiencing vanilla made with gourmet beans.
How many vanilla beans should I use when making homemade vanilla extract?
Our recipe uses 8 beans (or approximately .83 ounces) to 1 cup of unflavored alcohol, over a period of 6 - 12 months. This is the ideal ratio for a rich, creamy vanilla extract made with premium, Grade A vanilla beans.
What if my vanilla beans develop mold?
Sometimes vanilla beans look like they have a layer of “frost” on them. This is not mold but frosty crystals that developed on the vanilla beans when the vanillin from inside the beans migrates to the surface as the beans are drying. This actually proves the high vanillin content of our beans.
If actual mold develops, discard and replace your vanilla beans as they were not stored properly.