By Bill Daley, Chicago Tribune
How do you store vanilla beans?
Craig Nielsen, chief executive officer of Nielsen-Massey Vanillas in Waukegan, Ill., recommends a tightly sealed container, either a glass jar or double-bagged in plastic. Keep the bean away from light or heat — a dark cabinet at room temperature is best. Do not refrigerate the beans, he says, because they can get moldy.
Vanilla flavor can be found in both the bean and the seeds inside. Split the bean lengthwise with a sharp knife and scrape out the seeds with the back of the knife. The bean pod can be simmered to flavor a liquid, such as milk for a custard.
Nielsen says the average vanilla bean can be used two or three times. After that, he recommends cutting up the bean and sticking it in some sugar. Let it sit for a couple of weeks to flavor and perfume the sugar.