Sunday, March 6, 2011

Vanilla Beans

I finally visited ToTT with my sister yesterday. As my hub needed to use the car to take my grandsons to lunch, we took a bus from Tampines Interchange. It took us almost 2 hours to reach our destination.
The moment my sister stepped into the store and took a quick glance, she commented that the things are similar to those found at Sia Huat, a shop at Temple Street. They are the suppliers of all kitchen and food equipment.
I asked my sis to check out SH's pricing to see if it's any different from Tott's which is rather pricey!

Anyway, I bought a packet of vanilla beans at Toque, a store next to Tott that sells baking and cooking ingredients. On display are two packets of the same brand vanilla beans. One packet has Iran printed on it and the other Papua New Guinea. The vanilla pods from Iran are about 3cm shorter than those from PNG. Both packets weigh 250g each and they are vacuum-packed. I asked the sales rep about the difference between the two packets with regards to the countries, he told me that they are of the same quality. Okay, but I wasn't convinced because (1)they are different in length and (2)they smelled different.
I could smell the sweet aroma of vanilla from the PNG packet despite been vacuum-packed in quite thick plastic whereas the Iran packet (similar packaging) yielded a faint aroma. So how could the two packets be of the same type.
I know that there are a couple of varieties of vanilla beans and some give off better aroma than others. So guess which pack I bought?

Obviously I bought the one from PNG. After 10% discount, I paid $49.50 for 250g of vanilla beans. Now what needs to be done is to buy a bottle of vodka to make vanilla essence and maybe a bottle of rum to get vanilla rum! I have no regrets buying the PNG pack because my kitchen smells of vanilla essence even though I have not opened the pack!


  1. $49.50 for 250g of vanilla beans...that's a great deal. I made some vanilla extract with vodka last month...not quite satisfied with the result though.

  2. wow nearly S$50 bucks! I am sure you will be churning out more vanilla goodies soon!

  3. Wow! That's a lot of vanilla beans! Looks like potent stuff.
    2 hours journey to TOTT. That was quite some determination you had. LOL. You stay at Tampines? If so, we are 'neighbours' :)

  4. oh my! i've not bought vanilla beans before. but i was tempted to try it ;D

  5. Judy,
    The ones from PNG are Tahitian and they smell sweeter. Saw this on ur packaging. I bought some from the Internet months ago. The smell was fabulous! The box that the beans were sent in were smelling great and my hubby has to discard the box because the smell filled the house. Hahah!
    What is the variety of the Iranian ones?
    Madagascar bourbon or Tahitian or Mexican? They smell differently.
    The name of the variety has nothing to do with the country of origin.

  6. Hi Angie,
    I' m going to have quite a lot of extract. Some will used to flavour sugar. Probably share some with my sister.

    Hi Edith,
    Yup, currently experimenting and playing around with ingredients.

    Hi Eelin,
    Bus 67 is the only service that goes to Bt Timah. No service from pasir ris where I live.
    We are still 'neighbours'.

    Hi Jasmine,
    If you do buy, try the smell test! I bought some from phoon huat and they were not as good.

    Hi Wendy,
    Both packages had the same brand, same variety i.e. tahitian. Only diff is the country. Quite difficult to get good ones from s'pore. Btw, which website did you make your purcahse?

  7. No wonder your journey took 2 hours! 67 is a long long long route.
    How long do the beans last? I'm tempted to get some to made my own vanilla extract...

  8. That was a lot of vanilla beans you've got, Judy! Whatever it is, I can tell you, you'll never regret having vanilla beans. Good luck in your vanilla extract. You'll have to be patient to let it mature over a couple of months. HBS told me vanilla in Rum is better, I've yet to try it though. I can't wait to see your vanilla extract! I've already made 3 bottles, and still keeping them! Heehee...

  9. Hi Eelin,
    The beans in their raw state have a shelf life. They are actually orchid seed pods. If you soak them in liquor, they last a long, long time. And you keep topping up the liquor once your supply is half used until you find that there's no more aroma. You can use vodka or rum. I'll be using both separately. You have to wait for a couple months after soaking before you can use the extract. Hope it helps.

    Hi Jane,
    Hope you're better. Yup, I'm making some vanilla rum. No regrets making my own extract! Beats those artificial ones!

  10. Now, I don't even know what is ToTT and Toque!!!:O

  11. Hi Tigerfish,
    Tott is the name of a kitchen supplies store which opened some months ago and it carries some branded and pricier wares. Toque is a little store within Tott selling baking and some cooking goods.Hope this helps. :)

  12. Busygran, I have made my own vanilla extract using vodka and rum, I am using vanilla pod from phoon huat, smell not so nice. I am so tempted to order online, may be I should.

  13. I've got some vanilla beans sitting on my shelf for months and my vodka too. Wanted to make my own vanilla extract but you know what, just procrastinating. I've used up some beans to make vanilla sugar but find it such a waste as I used the whole pod with beans. Should have scraped out the beans for other purposes first.

    Can't wait to see your tried and tested recipes with vanilla beans.


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