How to Buy Vanilla
There are several different forms of Vanilla to choose from and most are not readily available in the super market. Whether you are looking for Vanilla Extract, Vanilla Sugar, or simply Vanilla Beans, it is important to consider the growing region as that affects the flavor. Professional chefs and foodies prefer to buy Vanilla beans because it gives you full control of the flavor profile you are cooking with.
I don’t recommend using cheap vanilla extract as it is often an imitation, using chemicals to replicate the real thing. Real vanilla extract is expensive, however is quite simple to make. simply cut 3 vanilla beans in in half, scrape out the seeds and put all of it into a quart of vodka. Place that in the shade and shake occasionally. After about 3 months, you have your own extract and it is much less expensive then buying vanilla extract.
Where do I buy vanilla beans? Well, you have several options. You can go to a specialty spice store, just make sure they do a lot of business and have fresh product. Nothing is worse then stale herbs and spices. You could always go to Walmart, or your local grocery store, but you won’t likely know what growing region the beans come from. Tahitian and Mexican vanilla beans taste very different. The other option is to shop online and to look for specialty stores. I definitely recommend this option as you will probably find the best prices and best quality vanilla beans to buy if you shop around.
Knowing where to buy vanilla beans, or buy vanilla extract makes a huge impact on your expertise as a cook. Nothing says experienced foodie as seeds from the vanilla bean mixed into homemade vanilla ice cream.