Ingredient of the Month: Vanilla

Ingredient of the Month: Vanilla

Learn everything you need to know about purchasing, storing and cooking with fresh vanilla.

Why You’ll Love Vanilla
An essential for baking and beyond, vanilla has a rich, exotic taste and sultry tropical scent. The fruits of flowering orchid vines, vanilla beans, are cured for months before the seeds secrete an aromatic, one-of-a-kind essence with a sweet, spicy and smooth flavor.

How to Tell if Vanilla is Fresh
When buying liquid vanilla, pure extract is worth the price, as imitation vanilla has a bitter aftertaste. For the purest flavor, use vanilla beans. Look for them at your local grocer or specialty food shop; choose shiny black beans that are plump, pliable and moist.


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How & Where to Store Vanilla
Keep tightly sealed bottles of vanilla extract in a cool, dark place and they’ll last indefinitely. Vanilla beans, on the other hand, should be wrapped in plastic, placed in an airtight container, refrigerated and used within six months.

How to Pair Vanilla
Vanilla accents almost any ingredient, especially fruit — we love topping apple, apricot or plum pastries with vanilla whipped cream. Use extract or beans to flavor cakes, custards, caramels and other sweets, or add a splash of extract to coffee or hot chocolate.

How to Prep Vanilla
Cut vanilla bean in half lengthwise, then use a small sharp knife to scrape out the seeds. Substitute 1 teaspoon vanilla extract for every 1-inch of vanilla bean. Combine fresh vanilla whipped cream with grilled fruit in our take on summer shortcake!

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I love fresh vanilla beans. I use it to make my own vanilla extract. I couldn't believe how much differant there is using my own homemade extract than the imatation extract.

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