Why We Love Vanilla Beans For Baking

vanilla beans

Vanilla is one of the most important ingredients used by bakers.  Sadly, too many of us rely on bottled vanilla extract or, worse, imitation vanilla extract.  Making your own vanilla extract is easy and you will be amazed by the wonderful flavor that is added to your favorite baking recipe.

How to Prepare Vanilla Beans

Vanilla beans are a must-have for any pastry chef and a staple in the kitchen. They’re delicious in cookies, cakes, ice cream, puddings, glazes and more!  Finding and using the best vanilla isn’t complicated but it will make a hug difference in the finished product.

How to Choose the Right Beans

When buying vanilla beans, look for plump and glossy beans that are fragrant. Avoid dry or dull ones, which will be damaged by storage. If you can’t use them within six months, store them in a cool, dark place and periodically open them to allow air to circulate.

Splitting the Beans

If you are planning to make extract from your beans, split them lengthwise using a small paring knife. This will help the alcohol submerge the beans and give you a more concentrated flavor.  The best baking will always include high quality vanilla.

How to Cure the Beans

Curing vanilla beans is a delicate and complicated process that requires an astute eye and years of experience. Dipping the beans in hot water causes the bean to stop growing and release the enzymes that trigger vanillin, the main flavor component of vanilla.

How to Store the Beans

Once the beans are cured, they’re usually stored in an airtight container for at least six months or longer. However, they can be stored for much longer if kept in the refrigerator.

How to Prepare the Beans

Before you use vanilla beans, cut them open to remove the seeds. This is a great way to save money on vanilla extract and gives you a more natural, fresher flavor.