Vanilla Bean Basics

What is the best vanilla bean?

No question about it!  The best variety of vanilla bean is the one you have.  Each variety is different.  Some have more potent flavor while some have more caviar.  Some are fruity and light, and others have more depth.  Each variety is slightly (or greatly!) different from the others.  It’s fun to get to know each kind. Here's a link to a summary of vanilla bean profiles.


How many beans are in an ounce?

The size of each bean varies and there is no specific magic number per ounce. Some beans are short and plump, others are long and skinny. Due to these variations, it is hard to get a bean/oz estimate. Generally, for long/luxury beans there are 5+ beans per ounce, and for shorter extract grade beans there are more than that.  We have seen as few as 2 and as many as 20 beans in an ounce!  Grade A beans tend to hover in the 8-12 beans per ounce range. Each bundle in this photo is 1 ounce.  



What can you do with vanilla beans?

Make vanilla extract!  We have some basic information about making your own vanilla extract on this site.  But don’t stop there!  If you have whole beans, you can use the caviar (seeds inside the pod) in recipes such as vanilla bean ice cream, pudding, etc.! Just scrape or squeeze out the caviar and add it to the recipe.  You can put the pod back in alcohol to continue extracting or use it to flavor sugar or salt.  Let the beans dry and put them whole or ground in a jar of sugar or salt for two weeks or longer and you have vanilla sugar or vanilla salt.  You can also completely dehydrate the beans and grind them into vanilla powder, which can be used in place of extract in baked goods.   After your extract is finished, you can re-use the beans to make a second batch of extract (it usually takes more beans for the second batch).   Eventually, they lose their potency, but by then you’ve had a lot of vanilla love.

 How should I store my vanilla beans?

 Vanilla beans are an agricultural product and can spoil just like fruit or veggies if not properly attended to.  Please plan to store your beans safely (not using the transportation baggie they are shipped in). We recommend submerging beans in alcohol - this keeps the beans soft and supple and prevents mold growth.  Do not store beans in the refrigerator or freezer.  You can also vacuum seal the beans which is not a permanent storage method (like alcohol) but will extend the shelf life for 6 months or so.  We guarantee your beans will arrive without mold but are not responsible if they go moldy due to improper storage.