Chemically produced imitation vanilla extract is full of artificial color, corn syrup, and stabilizers, making it inferior to extract made from fragrant vanilla pods. But buying whole beans can be tricky, because they are often hard to come by, harder to judge, and expensive (at least the good ones). Recently I came across Papua New Guinea vanilla beans from the Frontier Natural Products Co-Op. The pods are fat and filled with quality vanilla, come packaged in recyclable glass tubes, and are sold by an environmentally and socially responsible business. In short, they’re well worth their cost. I’ve been using mine in custards, cupcakes, and sugar, and also mixed the seeds into a little jar of fleur de sel.
Papua New Guinea Vanilla Beans, $11.99