Why you need to Store vanilla Beans inside your Kitchen
By Sarah Neil
Dec 8, 2011 - 2:47:50 AM
Do you know that vanilla is one of the most expensive spices in the world? The market nowadays is filled with lots of cheap imitations of the famous vanilla bean flavor and aroma. Many people are patronizing the cheap imitation because they see authentic vanilla bean as a luxury more than a necessity for their kitchen. There is nothing that can substitute a high grade vanilla bean because the flavor and aroma of a whole vanilla bean is very intense yet gentle. This is extremely hard to duplicate.
The vanilla bean is a fruit that comes from the native orchid of Central America. Producing the bean and preparing it for use is a very long and complex process. This is the reason why whole bean vanilla is sold for a fairly hefty price, but you can certainly find reasonable rates online at places like www.olivenation.com. The orchids that produce vanilla beans must be hand-pollinated for nine months. When the beans are ripe, they are hand-picked and then sun-dried. After the drying process, the beans are wrapped using a woolen cloth and set out to sweat at night. This rigorous process is the main reason why the vanilla bean is fairly expensive compared to all other spices.
If you want to prepare delicious vanilla bean recipes, then you need to know that there are different types of vanilla beans that are available in the market. Most of these vanilla beans come from three countries - Madagascar, Mexico and in Papua New Guinea. The Madagascar Bourbon vanilla bean is the most popular type of vanilla bean, but this is also the most expensive one. It is expensive because this vanilla bean has a very rich and creamy flavor that is best used for cooking and baking. Your favorite vanilla ice cream comes from the one of a kind Madagascar Bourbon vanilla beans.
The Mexican vanilla bean comes from a similar kind of orchid plant that is also found in Madagascar, but the beans are cured differently. As a result, you will find similar flavor, but the seed of that fruit is not very moist or rich just like the popular Madagascar Bourbon beans. Another type is the Tahitian vanilla beans that come from different species of orchid that are grown in Papua New Guinea. This vanilla bean has a very light and a different floral flavor and is mostly used by pastry chefs if they want to add some fruity flavor to their dessert.
It is important for you to know how to use these vanilla beans when preparing vanilla bean recipes. To make the most out of your expensive vanilla bean, use it for cooking a myriad of recipes. The first thing that you need to do is to find high quality vanilla beans. Youíll know the vanilla bean is good when you see it has a dark color, is moist, wrinkly, and long. There is no need to worry if you see some white crystals inside and outside of the bean because this is the crystallized vanillin. This is the compound that is responsible in giving the vanilla bean its flavor.
If you want to use vanilla bean to prepare vanilla bean recipes, then you need to cut it lengthwise using a very sharp knife in order to scrape out the black seeds inside. The seeds are very sticky so they might stick on your hand. Take care not to lose any of the precious seeds. Itís a good idea to place some wax paper down before you begin to open the pod.
If you want to make a custard pudding, then you can simmer the whole vanilla pod, but it is the seed that has an intense flavor and aroma. If your recipes only call for the seeds, you can still find use for the husk of the bean which still retains a lot of vanilla flavor. Put it inside a clean jar with white sugar and leave it there for several weeks. You can use the sugar for preparing any desert for additional flavor and aroma.
All in all, when preparing vanilla bean recipes, if you choose to use a synthetic form of the ingredient you will miss out on the unique robust flavor that is only available from the pure and authentic vanilla bean. So it is best to keep real vanilla beans in your pantry for use in your recipes. You will be glad you did.
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