Vanilla extract always seeems to cost an arm and a leg. And vanilla beans? Forget it – I think we’re looking at like $9+ for a few beans in the Albany, NY area. Not exactly wallet friendly.
That all changes.
I found Vanilla Products USA on eBay and read some pretty good reviews of them on eGullet and other sites online. I figured I’d put in an order with them and see what I got. I purchased 1 lb of Tahitian Grade B beans and 1/2 lb of Madagascar Grade B beans.
Shipping is $5 per item. They say the knock off $2.50 for each extra item, but I got charged the full $10 for shipping. I don’t know – shipping charges confuse me sometimes. Maybe it was if I’d ordered 2 orders of 1# beans. Plus they throw in free stuff depending on how much you spent, and I got a quarter pound of Tahitian Grade A beans, too.
1.75 lbs of vanilla beans for under $40. Insane. And the shipping was super quick. I think they’re based in Pennsylvania, so I had them by the end of the week.
The rum based vanilla extract makes a nice little addition to cocktails. It’s also a nice gluten-free option.
You can see my beans all lined up in a little row. Tahtian Grade A on the left, Madagascar Grade B in the middle, and Tahitian Grade B on the right.
Can you tell what kind these are? These are six beans of Tahitian Grade B! I really couldn’t tell much of a difference between Grade A & Grade B. I figured six or so beans was a good amount for a quart jar.
I also boiled some rubber lid things to keep my extracts from spilling all over the place. Hey, I know our household. Albany John and I are clumsy as all get out. If it can spill, fall, or drop – it will.
I labeled them with the amount/kind of beans and the kind of liquor in each bottle. I’ll let them sit for a few weeks and then check them out. Obviously the smaller guys are going to be done pretty quickly. I’d give the little recycled extract bottle on the very left about a week or two before checking it.
I would have made more, but I ran out of rum and bottles, and was running low on vodka. Now I need to find some more glass jars or bottles. Where can I find them for cheap?
I thought these would make nice gifts, but the quart ones are a little awkwardly large: “Hi, thanks for having me over/doing something nice. Here’s four cups of vanilla extract. Enjoy!” I think pint glasses or smaller amounts would be nice.