Category: grocery & gourmet food > beverages > coffee > whole bean
| Brand: Frontier Natural Brands Spices
| Merchant: Kalyx One quarter pound is approximately 26 whole vanilla bean pods. Whole vanilla beans, rather than extract, will impart the purest, most intense vanilla flavor to your recipes. The best-quality, Vanilla planifolia, comes from Mexico, Madagascar, and Indonesia. Vanilla planifolia is native to Central America, where it is still grown commercially. The closely related Vanilla tahitensis, Tahiti vanilla, is native to Oceania. The Aztecs called Vanilla ''tlilxochitl,'' ''black flower.'' It flavored their ''cacao water,'' ''cacahuatl'' in the Aztec tongue Nahuatl, ''chocol haa'' in the Mayan tongue. (The Aztecs were to the Mayans as the Dorians to the Mycenaeans, if one may make so bold.) Cacahuatl was made from vanilla, cocoa beans, honey, hot water and other spices, such as annatto. The Aztecs considered vanilla to be an aphrodisiac. Vanilla flavours many chocolate and confectionery items and several liqueurs such as Creme de Cacao and Galliano. V. pompona, also called Guadeloupe vanilla or Antilles vanilla from the West Indies, and V. tahitiensis, from Tahiti, are sometimes used as V. planifolia replacements. They are ''inferior'' only in the sense that they are different. The aroma and flavor are slightly different, but taste is personal, and the alternative species are preferred by some. Fresh vanilla pods are tasteless - the vanillin is bound as a glycoside and must be set free by enzymatic reaction, normally induced by a sequence of blanching or steaming operations. It is this, and the equally labor-intensive need for manual pollination outside its originary South American home, that makes vanilla so expensive. Store vanilla beans in an airtight container in a cool, dark space along with your other spices. The deepest vanilla flavor is found in the seeds, the dark, sticky pulp inside the bean. Once you''ve extracted the seeds, there are a few ways to use them and the scraped pod: Infuse a liquid with the bean and seeds. Drop the seeds and the scraped pod into warm liquid, such as scalded milk or cream, and leave them to infuse for at least 30 minutes and up to an hour. Strain the pod from the liquid (the tiny specks of vanilla seeds will remain) . Use the flavored liquid for your recipe. Add the scraped seeds directly to a batter. For example, add the seeds to the butter and sugar before creaming when making cookies. Add a small piece of a split bean (no need to scrape first) to a savory stew at the beginning of cooking. This is especially good in rich shellfish dishes or highly spiced meat dishes. A 2-inch piece of vanilla bean (halved and scraped) equals about 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract. Old Fashioned Vanilla Bean Ice Cream: http://www.findarticles.com/cf 0/m1041/6 77/54635467/p1/article.jhtml: Author: Jeanne Ambrose Better Homes & Gardens: June, 1999 1 Bean There Heating and stirring a whole vanilla bean with the half-and-half and sugar softens the bean, making it easier to split open.