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thoughts on vanilla bean price differences?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

I don't use them often, but needed a vanilla bean for a pot de crème recipe.  Penzeys has 3 Madagascar beans for $9.35.  Our local supermarket had Spice Islands which contains 1 bean for . . .  wait for it . . .  $17.39 !!!  I ended up buying 1 bean from our co-op.  They sold them for $ 1.69 each.

 

Is there any reason for the wild price differences beyond "because they can"?

Emily

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Emily

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post #2 of 15
I was just watching something about vanilla the other day. I think there is a reason but it depends on quality too. I purchased a bunch of pods from an online company and was severely disappointed! I could barely get the beans scraped out and when I did they would rip and pieces of the pod would come off. These weren't very flavorful either. They also weren't plump with beans either like I've seen other chefs use. I'll be shopping around looking for quality next time.
post #3 of 15

For making an order for over $20 -$25 from MySpiceSage I received a complementary bag of four or so beans and will try a partial one out tomorrow.  I've read that a two-inch slice of V bean that's had its internals scraped and added (along with the skin) to 1 C or so of dairy is equivalent to a tsp of pure vanilla extract.  Will let y'all know tomorrow or so.

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

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Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

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post #4 of 15
Koko, I'll be interested in hearing your results. I think I am going to take the remainder of mine and make my own extract!
post #5 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by JessicaSkyler83 View Post

Koko, I'll be interested in hearing your results. I think I am going to take the remainder of mine and make my own extract!

 

From the posts I've read here, you really need a "chemistry" setup to do a proper extraction using pure alcohol.  A soxhlet extractor or something like that.  Otherwise don't bother since soaking the bean in alcohol hasn't yielded good results in the past.

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
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Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
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post #6 of 15

I followed a recipe for a strawberry tarte in a book entitled THE COOKING OF PROVINCIAL FRANCE, a Time-Life edition.  The recipe for the 'cream' (I don't know if it's creme anglaise, pastry cream or custard or what the F ever!), it calls for 1 tsp vanilla extract.  Well, I took a bean from MySpiceSage and cut off a three inch piece.  The stem was slit down one side and the innards scraped out.  Everything, the innards and stem, were mixed with 1C milk and heated several minutes to extract the flavor, probably 35-45 minutes or so.  The mixture was then strained and mixed with eggs, flour, gelatin yada yada and beaten to a rich thickness in a saucepan heated on the stovetop.

As to the finished product, the flavor seemed a bit less that subtle but I'll let y'all know in a few hours after the tarte has chilled thoroughly.

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
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Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
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post #7 of 15

We've been making our own extract for donkey's years using vodka, rum or cognac.  You won't get the same strength as commercial extract, but the results are significantly better than all but the very best commercial extracts.  I don't know why you don't get good results; it's not a very complicated process.  Split and soak.  Soak some more.  Then soak.  It takes a few months. 

 

There are a few very good sources for best quality vanilla beans at a reasonable price.  We've been buying our beans from Vanilla, Saffron Imports aka "Golden Gate" since even longer than we've been making our own extract.  I'm sure there's some other place as good, but I just haven't found it yet.  They absolutely crush Penzeys for quality AND price.

 

They're also the best source I've found for saffron.

 

If you find any place better for vanilla or saffron, please let me know.

 

BDL

post #8 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by boar_d_laze View Post

We've been making our own extract for donkey's years using vodka, rum or cognac.  You won't get the same strength as commercial extract, but the results are significantly better than all but the very best commercial extracts.  I don't know why you don't get good results; it's not a very complicated process.  Split and soak.  Soak some more.  Then soak.  It takes a few months. 

 

There are a few very good sources for best quality vanilla beans at a reasonable price.  We've been buying our beans from Vanilla, Saffron Imports aka "Golden Gate" since even longer than we've been making our own extract.  I'm sure there's some other place as good, but I just haven't found it yet.  They absolutely crush Penzeys for quality AND price.

 

They're also the best source I've found for saffron.

 

If you find any place better for vanilla or saffron, please let me know.

 

BDL

I never got any results worth using even leaving the beans more than a year in the alcohol.  I think maybe the beans we get here are just crap, old and dry and tasteless.  I never saw any place that sells beans "from" any particular place, just "vanilla beans" e basta.  After a year, having cut and opened the beans, and left them in pure alcohol for a long long time, (not a lot of alcohol, mind you) and they didn;t even take on the color of light tea, never mind a richer brown that i expected, never mind even regular tea color.  So i imagine it;s the beans.  It's very frustrating because vanilla extract is almost impossible to come by here either.  Everyone here uses this chemical white powder, fake vanilla. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by kokopuffs View Post

I followed a recipe for a strawberry tarte in a book entitled THE COOKING OF PROVINCIAL FRANCE, a Time-Life edition.  The recipe for the 'cream' (I don't know if it's creme anglaise, pastry cream or custard or what the F ever!), it calls for 1 tsp vanilla extract.  Well, I took a bean from MySpiceSage and cut off a three inch piece.  The stem was slit down one side and the innards scraped out.  Everything, the innards and stem, were mixed with 1C milk and heated several minutes to extract the flavor, probably 35-45 minutes or so.  The mixture was then strained and mixed with eggs, flour, gelatin yada yada and beaten to a rich thickness in a saucepan heated on the stovetop.

As to the finished product, the flavor seemed a bit less that subtle but I'll let y'all know in a few hours after the tarte has chilled thorough

My favorite tarte of all times, and one of my favorite deserts.  I'm making it to bring for a dinner for 12 tomorrow - two of them actually.  The cream is a bavarian cream, with the gelatine and the whipped cream folded in later.  Maybe the flavor was strong because you hadn;t added the whipped cream yet? 

"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #9 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by siduri View Post

...My favorite tarte of all times, and one of my favorite deserts.  I'm making it to bring for a dinner for 12 tomorrow - two of them actually.  The cream is a bavarian cream, with the gelatine and the whipped cream folded in later.  Maybe the flavor was strong because you hadn;t added the whipped cream yet? 

In making the Bavarian Cream a la Time Life I used a two or three inch piece of vanilla bean gotten from MySpiceSage.com.  The bean was split and the innards scraped, all (the stem plus scrapings) placed in the milk to heat and infuse.  Once made, the B Cream was quite speckled with vanilla and the flavor very pronounced.  The flavor was good, but next time I'll use a piece of bean measuring about half as long.  Using the vanilla bean for the first time, I was quite delighted with its flavor and I have around a dozen more beans in the fridge to work through! 

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
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Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
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post #10 of 15

In the UK 2 Madagascan vanilla pods (which I guess are the same as vanilla beans) are £2.99 upwards, dpending where you shop. I have seen them for a lot more. I agree, they are expensive.

Once I have scraped out the seeds I keep the husk and add it to a bag of caster sugar, it makes wonderful vanilla sugar for baking thumb.gif

Good food is the foundation of genuine happiness

AUGUSTE ESCOFFIER

Ravioli
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Good food is the foundation of genuine happiness

AUGUSTE ESCOFFIER

Ravioli
(5 photos)
  
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post #11 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Goldilocks View Post

...Once I have scraped out the seeds I keep the husk and add it to a bag of caster sugar, it makes wonderful vanilla sugar for baking thumb.gif

 

Not knowing much about using vanilla beans, I assume that when making an infusion of scrapings with dairy, one does not use the stem?  Rather, the stem itself is placed into the sugar container to add flavor to the granulated sweetener?


Edited by kokopuffs - 6/12/13 at 5:19am

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
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Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
(1 photos)
 
Reply
post #12 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by kokopuffs View Post

 

Not knowing much about using vanilla beans, I assume that when making an infusion of scrapings with dairy, one does not use the stem?  Rather, the stem itself is placed into the sugar container to add flavor to the granulated sweetener?

Yes exactly. I use the seeds inside for whatever I am making and then keep the outside (husk) and put that into a bag of caster sugar.

Good food is the foundation of genuine happiness

AUGUSTE ESCOFFIER

Ravioli
(5 photos)
  
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Good food is the foundation of genuine happiness

AUGUSTE ESCOFFIER

Ravioli
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post #13 of 15

Here is a good source for vanilla beans http://www.arizonavanilla.com/Store/vanillastore.php

post #14 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by boar_d_laze View Post

We've been making our own extract for donkey's years using vodka, rum or cognac.  You won't get the same strength as commercial extract, but the results are significantly better than all but the very best commercial extracts.  I don't know why you don't get good results; it's not a very complicated process.  Split and soak.  Soak some more.  Then soak.  It takes a few months. 

There are a few very good sources for best quality vanilla beans at a reasonable price.  We've been buying our beans from Vanilla, Saffron Imports aka "Golden Gate" since even longer than we've been making our own extract.  I'm sure there's some other place as good, but I just haven't found it yet.  They absolutely crush Penzeys for quality AND price.

They're also the best source I've found for saffron.

If you find any place better for vanilla or saffron, please let me know.

BDL

What strength vodka do you use for soaking the beans?

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
(1 photos)
 
Reply

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
(1 photos)
 
Reply
post #15 of 15

Here's another good online source for vanilla beans; a 2-count tube for under $4 from Qualifirst: http://www.qualifirst.com/en/vanilla-bean-2-count-tube-4g-epicureal

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