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Has anyone noticed the lack of vanilla flavor in vanilla beans?

I have tried several varieties, from different countries and suppliers. While there is a hint of vanilla, I am using triple the beans plus extract and gain some but not much effect. I have taken all the beans, (new ones) and made vanilla paste, which should be omg this kitchen reeks with vanilla! But it does not.

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  • Please ask only one question per topic. I have removed your second question. Feel free to ask it on its own. – Catija Sep 11 '16 at 1:09
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    The beans may have dried out a bit too much, and can be refreshed by soaking in hot water for a few minutes. – Giorgio Sep 14 '16 at 15:27
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The aroma of vanilla beans is not easy to release. You have to extract it somehow. The most popular way is a prolonged extraction with alcohol, but you can also boil the seeds in milk or other dairy (that method is especially popular for custards).

If you simply throw seeds into whatever you are making, you are not going to get much aroma.

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  • seeds and pods were added into ice cream base which was not boiling but hot, taken off the stove, and brought to room temp. – Judy B. Oct 3 '16 at 22:37
  • Also tried making Vanilla paste with the beans, simple syrup and a bit of acid. Cooked on the stove for 20 minutes. – Judy B. Oct 3 '16 at 22:38
  • Also tried adding alcohol, in case that was the flavor missing... still not very vanilla. – Judy B. Oct 3 '16 at 22:39
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I recently made vanilla gelato with vanilla bean. It soaked in my "sauce" overnight. There was an amazing aroma. Maybe vanilla bean flavor needs "released," i.e., in liquid, etc. I am fairly new to cooking, so I'm no expert, but again, mine was heavenly.

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  • Dorothy recommended soaking the beans in a liquid to "rehydrate" them. They were new from both vials and vacuum-packed bags. All were not dry. I did try 2 iterations of vanilla bean paste and still the beans lacked flavor. I also added a bit of Grey Goose to a portion of the beans to coax some flavor. But they are still lacking. – Judy B. Sep 16 '16 at 22:12
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  • If you are using the whole bean, there is a significant dilution of flavour caused by the actual 'pod' of the bean. While using the whole bean makes most economic sense, for the most concentrated flavour use only the seeds scraped out of the inside of the pod. I also find the seeds have less of the slightly herbal bitterness that the whole pod imparts into food.
  • @iDoVooDoo makes a good point that flavour will only continue to be released over time, so try preparing things ahead when possible.
  • I don't know how you are making your bean paste, but you should try simmering the whole or chopped up beans in water before adding sugar and reducing to make a syrup that will turn into a satisfyingly rich and thick paste after blending everything. The inital simmering will make sure the flavour compounds in the bean are released into the 'substrate' of the paste. This will not happen as effectively if you only simmer them in sugar syrup, as the syrup is not a good solvent.
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  • I was thinking that something oily is being added to the pod exterior, that I am tasting. I will try it sans pod, beans only,in water, then try adding the sugar. thank you. – Judy B. Oct 3 '16 at 22:43
  • Great - let me know if this helps! – canardgras Oct 6 '16 at 16:13
  • I did try this in cream, only the seeds. then added sugar. no dice. maybe its too hot? – Judy B. Oct 13 '16 at 18:58

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