Stock Up On Vanilla for the Holidays

Reader Rainey writes:

Costco is stocking their seasonal stash of Madagascar Bourbon vanilla beans. They sell 10 of them for $12. They come in a couple glass test tubes which I find wonderfully convenient for that trick of nipping off one end and plunging the cut end into about 1″ of vodka. Once emptied they’re also useful for gifting a bit of vanilla sugar with one of the empty pods cached inside.

Informative AND educational. Thanks, Rainey!

13 thoughts on “Stock Up On Vanilla for the Holidays”

  1. Hello Joe,

    So sorry to post this here but there was no post for me to ask this question.

    I just want to ask you about working with poppy seed. If a recipe calls for poppy seed, how do I go about its use:

    1. Measure out the amount specified in the recipe and crush it to powder form, before using

    2. Measure out any quantity, crush, then measure out the amount specified in the recipe

    3. Measure out the amount specified in the recipe and use directly without any crushing.

    I asked these question because I read that poppy seeds are much more flavorful when crushed and used in the baked food than using them whole, although the crushed version is bitter.

    What do you think?



    1. That’s a very interesting question, Wale. I confess I’m not sure of the answer though I wouldn’t turn them to powder, since I think they would turn your dough grey. Crushing is a different matter, since that would accomplish the goal or keeping the seeds in larges pieces while also letting the essential oils out.

      Let me know how it goes!

      – Joe

  2. I bought several tube of this last year and still haven’t used it all. They remain fine to still to use, don’t they?

    1. Reviving dried vanilla beans is how I came to try and to appreciate the vodka trick. At the time I was buying bulk beans online and just not keeping up.

      The vodka will rehydrate them. And you’ll be able to deliver the seeds for use by grabbing the uncut end and pinching and sliding down the length of the bean to squeeze the seeds out like toothpaste. The real advantage of this is that you can easily deliver just a small amount if you’re whipping a tiny bit of cream for a single serving, for example.

      Give them a couple days in the vodka to be ready to slide out as seed paste, possibly a few more if they’re really dried out.

      Put your empty vanilla pods in another bottle of vodka to make your own extract or in a bit of sugar to make vanilla scented sugar.

    2. Hi Susan!

      It depends on how dry they are. If they’re very brittle you’ll have a hard time scraping the seeds out and using them for much. However the beans would still be good for flavoring sugar or alcohol.


      – Joe

  3. Thanks, Rainey…good to know! I already have a vodka vanilla extract brewing since last January. I keep forgetting about it. Guess I’ll go shake it up and test it!

    1. Seems I came rather late to this discussion…Rainey has this one all sewed up! 😉

      – Joe

  4. Thanks for the tip! I called my parents just to get it for me while I had no access to a Costco.

    Ready for all the holiday baking now!

  5. call me crazy, but that’s still very expensive compared to buying in bulk off amazon. 10 beans is nothing, homie. i think my half pound ends up costing $25- and that’s got to be at least 50 beans – probably more.

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