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I'm trying to make a vanilla syrup for some flavored coffees, and the recipe I have calls for:

2 1/2 cups water
2 cups white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 moist vanilla bean, preferably Mexican or Bourbon (Madagascar)

What does it mean by a moist vanilla bean? Do I soak the bean in water or something before use?

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In this case, it means, quite literally, that the vanilla pod has not dried out. I won't call it fresh since it has been fermented, but it has been stored properly. –  SAJ14SAJ Dec 30 '12 at 21:49
    
Grade B beans, used for extract, are generally dryer than Grade A beans, so you would probably want to use a Grade A bean for this. –  user5561 Dec 31 '12 at 0:23
    
Interesting point @user5561 I didn't know that before. This article vanillareview.com/vanilla-information provides lots of information on vanilla beans, including how they are graded. –  SAJ14SAJ Dec 31 '12 at 2:15

1 Answer 1

up vote 3 down vote accepted

This is not a precise term, you cannot go and buy "moist" and "dry" vanilla beans. But the pods can be prepared to different degrees of dryness, similar to prunes. And the ones with more remaining moisture have more taste and are generally higher quality. This is why they specify it. If you only have access to dry pods, I will still try out the recipe with them, just change the source for the next buy.

Regarding the comment above, I have never had vanilla beans with a grade denoted on the packaging. But I have had both moist and dry ones, so it isn't a case of only one grade being marketed to end users. It is surely better if you can distinguish them based on some kind of grading, but chances are, you won't know what grade you are buying.

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