This is a sponsored post by Vanilla Queen*
What is my most favourite thing in the world you ask? Vanilla. Vanilla cupcakes, vanilla icing, vanilla ice cream, vanilla perfume, vanilla bubble bath. Chances are if its vanilla, I’ll love it. Naturally I was so excited to do this review and receive this little package of happiness in my mailbox. I don’t think my mailbox ever smelt so good.
The lovely Carly has run her Queensland based business Vanilla Queen since 2013. She sources and sells organic vanilla beans that are free from pesticides and artificial fertilizers. All beans are picked, checked and graded by hand to ensure she only receives the best and therefore only Grade A beans reach your kitchen. Now that’s service!
Are all vanilla beans made equal? No. There are great vanilla beans and there are awful vanilla beans. I refer to these as twigs. They taste about as good as one too.
What makes a good vanilla bean?
- Beans must be moist and plump.
- They must be flexible and soft to touch.
- Shiny from the oil on the outside of the bean. A dry bean is not what we want.
- When touching it, it should leave some oil and little tiny beans on your fingers.
- Very fragrant. You should be able to smell a very strong vanilla scent immediately.
- 14 – 15cm+ in length.
- Lots of fragrant, moist paste inside the bean once cut open and scraped.
Vanilla Queens Beans:
Vanilla Queen certainly meet the above criteria. Below are the details of their beans:
- They are Organic Tahitian Vanilla Beans.
- Their vanilla beans are grown organically without pesticides and artificial chemical fertilizers.
- All their vanilla beans are hand picked, sun cured and graded by hand.
- Bean Length: 14 – 15cm
- Grade: A
- Moisture content: 23 – 25%
- Vanillan content: 2.2– 2.4%
- Curing: Sun dried
I normally buy Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Beans so was curious how these would compare as Tahitian beans have a more fruity taste to them. As I said above, I love vanilla. No one messes with my vanilla.
Vanilla Queens beans arrived and immediately I could smell them through the packaging. They smelt fresh and very vanillery (if that’s not a word it is now!). Immediately I could tell these were high quality beans. When you know you know. To compare, go to your local supermarket and have a look at the poor little vanilla bean that is sold in a single packet in the herbs and spice section. It looks like a dry twig doesn’t it? Whilst you will get some flavour from it it wont have the depth of flavour of a Grade A bean.
Vanilla Queens are plump, moist and have a good shine to them indicating they are fresh. I checked each bean thoroughly and each one was the same quality. Not a shriveled up twig in the bunch at all. They must have looked tasty as my 5 year old walked paste and immediately said “Oh can I eat one Mum?”. Kids hey.
As you can see when opening and scraping the bean there is lots of delicious and moist paste inside.
They taste fresh and a nice kick of vanilla.
In the “How do I use them?” section I will talk more about what I did with these beans.
A packet of 15 Organic Vanilla Queen Tahitian beans sells for $20 including postage. This brings it to $1.33 a bean.
To compare prices I looked at three big supermarkets:
- Shop A: 10 Madagascar Bourbon beans for $15.00
- Shop B: 3 beans for $10.74, 4 for $9.20, 1 for $6.40
- Shop C: 4 beans for $9.13 or 1 bean for $6.54
How do I use them?
There are so many things you can do with Vanilla Beans. You can simply scrape out the paste inside the bean and use in your baking or sweets as needed. Here are some more ideas to get the cooking juices flowing:
Store them in your container of sugar. This gives your sugar a great vanilla hint to your coffee, tea or baking. I continue to add either full beans or scraped out beans to this as they accumulate. Never throw out a scraped bean. There is still so much flavour in them to utelise.
Once they dry up, simply pop them in a processor along with some sugar and blitz until fine. I generally do 200g sugar and one or two beans. You now have a more concentrated vanilla sugar.
Make your own vanilla extract! Place 8-10 vanilla beans into a 700ml bottle of Vodka. Allow them to sit for 8-12 weeks, shaking every month or so. You now have 700mls of vanilla extract. This is far cheaper than purchasing at the supermarket.
- 700ml vodka and 8 Vanilla Queen beans = $39.59
- Store bought vanilla extract would equal $100.94 for 700mls (Add your vanilla beans to a raspberry vodka. You will thank me for it! You’re welcome)
Here is my friends extract that she has had for about two years. She continually tops this up with vodka to ensure the beans are always covered and add new beans to this every now and again. She splits the beans before popping them in. She stores it in a dark spot at the back of the panty, lying down to ensure the beans are covered at all times. She just gives it a good shake every month or so. Too easy.
Dry out your vanilla beans in the oven, dehydrator or leaving out in the air for a week and turn them into Vanilla Powder. Simply process dry beans down to a powder in a processor, tmx or with a mortar and pestle. Use this in your baking in place of extract or paste.
You can make your own Vanilla Bean Paste. There are several recipes available online to make this. Unfortunately this isn’t something I have had a lot of success with due to it crystallizing not long after making. I use the above suggestions for vanilla in recipes.
Stay tuned as I will be experimenting in the coming week with my Vanilla Queen beans in the hope of perfecting my own vanilla bean paste (The below picture is experiment 1, looking and tasting fab until it crystallized straight after the photo was taken – thank you for behaving for at least the photo Mr Vanilla Bean Paste).
How do I purchase?
These vanilla beans can be purchased through the Vanilla Queen ordering website found here. The next bulk order is closing July 1st.
A packet of 15 beans retails for $20 including postage. This bring its to $1.33 a bean. Registered post is also available if requested for an additional $3.50.
I know where I will be purchasing all my Vanilla Beans from now on. Not only are they cheaper, they are organic and hand graded for quality which I love. I know I’m getting value and quality for money. Shopping from the comfort of my couch is always a plus (Just quietly, I’m sure the mailbox will thank me too!).
*Free product was given for the purpose of this review. The opinions, thoughts and reviews expressed in this post are my own and are not influenced by payment or relationships with businesses and advertisers. More information can be found on my Disclosure page.