The first piece of advice regarding vanilla is to ensure that you have chosen an excellent quality of product, for instance Bourbon Madagascar Vanilla Beans, which have an intense, rich flavor.
If you wish to open vanilla beans, you will need to cut them when they are lying flat on a chopping board or clean surface. The best technique that I can suggest is to hold one end of the beans and then very carefully use your sharp knife to slice all of the whole vanilla beans open, one at a time of course.
You do not have to use the entire bean at the same time either, you can always choose to cut the bean into a few different pieces and then use a bit at a time. Depending on whether you are using the whole bean or individual pieces will affect the vanilla flavor, so make sure you know how strong a flavor you are looking for.
When the bean is cut, you can carefully separate the sides of the bean and upon doing so will see that thousands of tiny seeds are within. When comparing the different types of vanilla beans, you will see that Bourbon Madagascar Vanilla Beans have more seeds than any other bean type.
The reason that it is good to cut open vanilla beans before you begin to use them, for instance before submersing them in a hot liquid, is that the more surface area is exposed, the greater the flavor will be. Many people also choose to scrape the seeds, separating them out from the bean before adding to their cooking mixture.
It is extremely important to know whole vanilla beans are filled with the gorgeous flavor of vanilla and not just the seeds. In fact, interestingly enough it is the bean itself that has more flavor than the seeds. More importantly, the beans can be used several times, although the number of times can alter depending on how vigorously you have used them.
This is crucial to remember, for you don’t want to have spent good money on beautiful Bourbon Madagascar Vanilla Beans, only to throw them out before their time is up.
After using the beans, we advise to rinse and then dry them. You can then place them in a sugar or coffee tub for some time, leaving them to ooze out their delicate aromatic smell. If you wish, you can grind up the beans that you have used a few times into a vanilla powder and then use the powder to sprinkle onto ice creams, cake and cookies.
It is important to store your Bourbon Madagascar Vanilla Beans correctly, therefore please keep them in an airtight container, somewhere that they will not heat up too much or get too cold. Especially important is to keep them out of direct sunlight and it is quite common for these top quality Bourbon Madagascar Vanilla Beans to sometimes have a white powder form on them. Do not panic as the powder is vanillin crystals - these crystals are actually edible and full of flavor.
After keeping whole vanilla beans, or those you have used, for some time, they may appear withered or dry but do not throw them out. It may yet be possible to rehydrate them within some warm liquid. Never try to freeze or refrigerate the beans as they will become too hard.
There are all kinds of recipes that require you to use vanilla, in all sorts of different vanilla forms. For instance, you can add drops of pure vanilla extract onto slices of apple and let it soak in to give a full flavor. It is important though that when choosing an extract, you make sure you have chosen an authentic vanilla extract and not an artificial one.
You can also use vanilla powder on a variety of sweet dishes and I advise you to try out your own recipes and get creative with vanilla, although the following foods are those that I recommend using as a recipe base; peaches, pears and strawberries, lobster or veal and melon or milk dishes, alongside other flavors like cardamom, chili, cinnamon and cloves. Good luck with your vanilla experiments and remember to always to choose the best beans you can. I for one will always rely on my favorite, Bourbon Madagascar Vanilla Beans.