How to use a vanilla bean

I’ve had a few people ask me how to work a vanilla bean.  So, I thought I’d show you how.

First, you find some vanilla beans, and you buy them.  In my local grocery store, they’re kind of hidden amongst the baking stuff in a little container that looks like this:

How to use a vanilla bean |


Then you take a sharp knife and, using the point of the knife, split the vanilla bean down the middle.

Pressing the knife edge perpendicular to the vanilla bean on one end, run the blade down the split you’ve made, scraping out the lovely little vanilla bean seeds.

How to use a vanilla bean |

Recognize those little specks from your premium vanilla ice cream?  That’s the good stuff.

I don’t use vanilla beans in every recipe that calls for vanilla – that would get a little pricey – but for anything that features vanilla, like my vanilla pudding recipe, you’ll find that splurging on the beans is a must.

There.  You learn something new every day.

3 comments on “How to use a vanilla bean

  1. Nice intro. I’ve bought vanilla beans a few times but I don’t bake often so worry that they go off before I get a chance to use them up. I recently used vanilla paste but haven’t used it yet. It smells wonderful and less sickly than essence or extract. Have you tried the paste?

    p.s. I love Laguiole knives!

    • I haven’t tried vanilla paste, though I have heard of it. I haven’t seen it anywhere I shop..which probably doesn’t mean much.
      I’m guessing, though, that if you had a nice plump vanilla bean that it would keep for quite a while. I know I’ve definitely found a few lost ones lurking in the back of my baking cupboard and they’ve been fine!

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