Because of how rare they are, the properties that they possess, and also because of how versatile they are in recipes, searching for vanilla beans can be lengthy and frustrating.
Vanilla beans serve a lot of functions. You can create extracts out of them, you can use them directly in recipes, you can grind them to make coffee and other beverages that use vanilla for flavoring.
These beans come from farms in two areas of the world: Mexico and Madagascar. This is why it is so difficult to find vanilla beans locally. How many of your local stores even knows where vanilla beans are from, let alone carries them? Not many.
This is why it can be difficult to find vanilla beans. It takes a long time for the beans to be distributed from Mexico or Madagascar to suppliers. It costs these suppliers a lot of money to receive vanilla beans, and that is why you rarely see them in local stores.
Because of this, you will need to find places to buy vanilla beans. If you can find a local store that sells them, great, but if you cannot find a place to locally buy vanilla beans, you’ll need to find them online.
This guide will show you some places online (and maybe one or two stores) where you can purchase vanilla beans. If you use vanilla beans a lot in recipes, you’ll want to take note of these.
But before learning about where to buy vanilla beans and how they can be acquired, you need to know what exactly vanilla beans are and what makes them so sought after.
What are vanilla beans?
We explored some of the most basic aspects of vanilla beans and why these aspects make them so valuable.
But what specifically makes vanilla beans so valuable?
Most vanilla beans look like pods where the beans themselves are located inside of, similar to green beans. Vanilla beans are the pods themselves, and this is what you should be thinking about when you think of vanilla beans.
As mentioned earlier, vanilla beans have a lot of uses. Vanilla beans (and vanilla bean extract) are used in all kinds of recipes for a lot of things that many don’t think included vanilla beans or vanilla bean extract.
Vanilla beans also have qualities that are spicy in some dishes and are sweet in others. This kind of versatility is also why they are in such high demand. Anybody who runs a restaurant or a kitchen will probably need to use vanilla beans or vanilla bean extract in some aspect.
The properties that vanilla beans and vanilla bean extract have are in high demand and always will be.
So how come local stores don’t carry them?
Local stores do not carry vanilla beans because unlike other plant based spices, the plants that vanilla beans only grow in certain climates and as mentioned earlier, only come from Mexico or Madagascar. These are the only two places in the world that possess the specific climate that allows vanilla beans to grow.
This is why you may not be able to go to your local store to buy vanilla beans. It would be very difficult for those places to consistently carry vanilla beans.
The solution for this is to buy vanilla beans from suppliers that specialize in carrying plant based spices. Most of these places will be online, but there is a good chance that you could also find local places that specialize in plant based spices such as vanilla beans.
Buying vanilla beans should not be a chore. Here are some options you can consider when looking for vanilla beans.
Buying Vanilla Beans
First, check around your local stores
It’s been well established that the chances of vanilla beans and vanilla bean extract being available in any of your local grocery stores are pretty low.
Still, it would not hurt to check and see if your local grocery stores still sell them, to see if it is possible for you to acquire them. Even if vanilla beans and their related items are sold on a seasonal basis at your local store, that is much better than them not being available at all.
If you come across a local store near you that is not a massive chain and specializes in produce, the chances are pretty good that they will sell vanilla beans the entire year. Again, do some research.
Online vanilla bean sellers
If you live in a big city and are around a lot of chain grocery stores, you’ll probably need to order your vanilla beans and their related items online. Here are a couple of websites that you can order them from.
The Spice House
This online retailer not only sells vanilla beans, but all kinds of spices. The Spice House carries vanilla beans from Madagascar, Mexico, and even Tahiti.
Vanilla beans from The Spice House are quite costly, and you can only order three stalks of vanilla beans at a time.
However, The Spice House has physical establishments in the Chicago and Milwaukee areas where you can physically purchase vanilla beans.
Another online retailer that specializes in all spices, Spice Jungle also sells vanilla beans from Mexico, Madagascar, and Tahiti.
Different than The Spice House, it is possible to buy more than three vanilla beans from Spice Jungle. You can purchase vanilla beans in quantities of 1, 3, 5, 7, 10, 16, or 25. You can also purchase them in pound increments of half a pound, 1 pound, 2 pounds, or even 5 pounds.
Vanilla beans from Spice Jungle do cost a little more than vanilla beans from The Spice House. Also, they are strictly an online retailer.
Vanilla beans are a staple for any baker who specializes in utilizing spices like vanilla for sweets or baked goods.
The most experienced cooks also know that vanilla beans can be used in savory cooking as well and can even rivale saffron.
Because of the conditions they demand, it is not possible to run over to your local grocery store and buy some vanilla beans whenever you need them.
You’ll either need to check out specialty grocery stores or browse online to find the right vanilla beans that you’ll need.
Available retailers and solutions have been mentioned earlier.
You should not need to waste time looking everywhere for vanilla beans. You deserve to know exactly where they can be bought.