How To: Use a Fresh Vanilla Bean

When I first started cooking a few years ago, I would never consider making anything with an exotic ingredient such as a vanilla bean ( I also didn't make anything with chicken unless you were grilling a boneless, skinless chicken breast).  This was on my way too fussy ingredient list.  And then I actually found out how expensive they are and vanilla beans got added to my I'm too cheap to buy that list as well.  

Well, the stars seemed to align when I was in a cooking class and realized that there is nothing in the whole wild world that will replace the taste of a fresh vanilla bean.  I don't care if you have vanilla extract from the Himalayas.  Followed by the fact that I found out Costco sells vanilla beans in bulk.  I think I got 8 for about $10.  This is an outrageously good deal.  

If you don't go to Costco, you can find them at most upscale grocery stores and it's worth splurging for a really special dessert. 

I haven't thrown out my vanilla extract.  It still has plenty of uses, but creams and custards deserve the good stuff. Here are your two easy steps to getting to the good stuff. 

Using a very sharp knife... 
vanilla bean
... from top to bottom. 

Using the back of that sharp knife...
vanilla bean 2
That stuff that looks like dirt is the good stuff. 

Before you toss the pod, check and make sure your recipe does not use it.  Some call for simmering the pod with a custard before you discard it.

Check back {very soon} for a way to put this bad boy to good use. 


  1. yum! I'm obsessed with vanilla bean- I'll have to check our Costco and see if they have it!

  2. Great tutorial!!

    One more excellent source: Beanilla Trading Company. 10 bourbon vanilla beans are $8.99. They also have 8 different varieties of vanilla beans, each has a different flavor. Because they specialize in vanilla, the beans are extremely fresh. You can find them at www.beanilla.com.

    I hope this helps! Enjoy!