About Vanilla Beans
Vanilla Beans, (Vanilla Planifolia) are the seed of the climbing orchid, originally from southern Mexico. When the Spanish arrived in Central and South America, the Aztecs were already using vanilla as a flavoring agent for drinks. Planifolia vanilla beans have a rich sweet flavor. They are the most common vanilla bean found in the market. They are grown in Madagascar, Comoro & Reunion Islands.
For reference, there are approximately 160-180 beans in a pound.
Vanilla is a great flavoring for chocolate, coffee, ice cream, cakes, cookies, fruit desserts and most sweet dishes. Surprisingly, a small amount of Vanilla is good with certain rich dishes such as lobster or veal. The beans are added to the food and then removed prior to serving.
Cut bean lengthwise, scrape out the dark, pulpy inside and add to recipe. You can store the remainder of the bean pod in a jar with sugar. This will both store the beans and supply vanilla flavored sugar. Use the sugar in any recipe, or as a sweetener for hot beverages.
This is not plain vanila though, sometimes we see this spelled Vanella Been!