Vanilla SelectionWhen selecting vanilla beans, choose plump beans with a thin skin to get the most seeds possible. To test, gently squeeze the bean between your fingers.
Pods should be dark brown, almost black in color, and pliable enough to wrap around your finger without breaking. If the beans harden, you can soften them by dropping into the liquid of your recipe until softened. Cutting into a hard bean can cause the knife to slip and result in potential injury.
If you discover what looks like sugar crystals inside the pod, enjoy your find of pure vanillin crystals.
Do not discard the pod, as it is just as usable as the seeds. When used in sauces and such, add to the mixtures after they have briefly cooled in order to preserve flavor.
Vanilla StorageBeans should be kept in a tightly-closed container in a refrigerated area where they should last up to six months.
Pure vanilla extract has an indefinite shelf-life, and actually improves with age like a fine wine or liquor.
Vanilla powder, which is ground vanilla beans, is also available. It should also be kept tightly-sealed, in a cool, dry place away from sun and heat.
Whole vanilla beans that have been used in sauces or other liquids can be rinsed, thoroughly dried, and stored for reuse.
More About Vanilla and Vanilla Recipes• Vanilla Selection and Storage
• Vanilla Beans
• Pure Vanilla Extract, Imitation Vanilla, and Vanilla Flavoring Differences
• Homemade Vanilla Extract and Cooking Tips
• Beware Adulterated Mexican Vanilla
• Vanilla History
• Vanilla Recipes
Vanilla Photo © 2007 Peggy Trowbridge Filippone, licensed to About.com, Inc.
|•||Simply Vanilla: Recipes for Everyday Use|
|•||Chocolate and Vanilla|
|•||Vanilla: The Cultural History of the World's Favorite Flavor and Fragrance|
|•||Herb Mixtures & Spicy Blends|