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Healthy Food Database

Vanilla Beans & Extract
Vanilla comes from a tropical climbing orchid native to Central America. Vanilla beans should be soft and flexible, as a brittle bean means it has been stored incorrectly and allowed to dry out. Vanilla essence is not necessarily made from vanilla beans, whereas extract is. Liquid vanilla that is thick and syrupy contains more sugar than a thin liquid.
Category: Spice
In Season: all year
To Buy:
Preferably buy vanilla beans in a packaging that allows you to bend the bean before you buy to ensure its flexibility. Beans that are very plump and moist are not necessarily the best, as aroma is the most important component. Beans from Mexico or Madagascar are usually, but not always, superior.
To Store:
Store vanilla beans in airtight packaging away from heat and light. They should be at their best for about 12 months. Vanilla beans can also be stored with sugar in an airtight container, thus flavouring the sugar mildly until you need it.
Tips & Tricks:
Ignore recipes that call for "fresh vanilla" as uncured beans have no flavour or aroma. Fresh in this case means soft and flexible. Split beans lengthwise and scrape out the tiny seeds to add to ice cream, custards and other desserts. Beans can also be added whole to liquids for poaching fruits, then rinsed thoroughly, dried and returned to an airtight pack for re-using.
Cooking Tips:

Nutrition per 1 Cup:

Safe/negligible amount

Benefits the Following Health Conditions:*

* This information is sourced by a qualified naturopath. It is non prescriptive and not intended as a cure for the condition. Recommended intake is not provided. It is no substitute for the advice and treatment of a professional practitioner.