If it’s your first time buying vanilla beans, it can be tricky to locate it in the maze of items.
So, I did some hunting around for you and came up with this guide to show you where to find vanilla beans in grocery stores, and a plan B on some stores that NEVER run out of vanilla stocks.
First of all, Vanilla beans are in the baking aisle and are often in a large box or bag. You might be able to find them in the spices or tea section in some grocery stores.
Another option is to go online as different websites sell vanilla beans and other related products like extracts and powders (which are also very useful!).
What Is Vanilla Beans?
Vanilla beans are the seeds of an orchid plant. They’re also one of the most popular flavors globally, with a rich, sweet flavor that can add depth to nearly any dish.
Making vanilla extract involves boiling vanilla beans in water for a few hours, then straining the resulting liquid to separate the flavoring.
You can use them whole or ground into a powder to give you that signature vanilla flavor.
Vanilla beans taste like sweet, rich vanilla. If you’ve ever used pure vanilla extract in your baking, then you know how good it tastes!
The flavor is very strong and pure—it’s not going to taste like anything else!
You can use vanilla beans to make ice cream, cakes, cookies, soups, and more!
You can even use them on their own as a sweet treat! Just split open the pod and scrape out the seeds with your teeth!
Where To Find Vanilla Beans In Grocery Stores
Look in the baking aisle. If you’re looking for vanilla beans at a conventional supermarket, your best bet is going to be the baking aisle.
Vanilla extract is usually found near the baking supplies, but there are other ingredients that contain real vanilla as well.
If you’re shopping at Whole Foods or another natural food store, look in the bulk bins or refrigerated section near the produce section.
You may also find an entire aisle dedicated entirely to natural flavors like honey and maple syrup (both of which can be used as substitutes for vanilla).
In all cases, make sure that what you buy says “Pure Vanilla Extract” or “Pure Vanilla Bean Powder.” They’ll be labeled accordingly.
And if by any chance you can’t find them there, ask an employee at your local grocery store.
What Stores Sells Vanilla Beans?
So, you’ve decided to make your own vanilla extract, and you’re wondering where to get the beans. You can find them at most grocery stores.
But here are some of our favorite:
- Whole Foods: They have a great selection of different kinds of beans, including Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Beans. This craft store has a decent variety of vanilla beans as well.
- Amazon: While they don’t have an especially large selection of vanilla beans, they sell them at a reasonable price.
- Walmart: You can also find vanilla beans at Walmart. Their selection is pretty limited, though—they only carry two kinds: Madagascar Dark Bourbon Vanilla Beans and Tahitian Pure Vanilla Extract Powder (which is just ground-up dried vanilla beans).
- Safeway: This is another place to buy bulk bags of vanilla beans at a discount price.
Other stores include Trader Joe’s, Kroger, Vons, Publix, H-E-B, Hannaford, Ralphs, Meijer, and Sprouts Farmers Market.
How Can You Store Vanilla Beans?
When you buy your vanilla beans, you should store them properly.
If you don’t, they will become hard and brittle, which means that they won’t be able to be used for baking or cooking.
Here are some tips for storing vanilla beans:
Store them in an airtight container. Please make sure the container is dark (so the beans don’t get light-sensitive) and closed tightly.
If you don’t have a container that seals well, wrap the beans in plastic wrap before putting them into your container. This will keep moisture out and make sure that they stay fresh longer.
Make sure that you store your vanilla beans in a cool place.
The refrigerator is ideal because it’s cold enough to prevent mold from growing on them while also humid enough that they won’t dry out too quickly if left out at room temperature for an extended period (like overnight).
Why Are Vanilla Beans So Expensive?
Vanilla beans are expensive because of their high quality, low yield, and labor-intensive process.
The process of making vanilla is labor-intensive and time-consuming. First, you need to pollinate the flowers on your vanilla vine with hand-pollination or bees; this takes about six months.
Then you need to wait for the pods to mature, which is another six months.
And finally, you need to harvest them by hand (which requires cutting the pod open), scraping out the seeds, and drying them out on racks under direct sunlight for up to three days.
And then pack them into bags or jars for sale while keeping track of what goes where so as not to mix up batches or lose product!
Aside from that, there’s another reason why vanilla beans are expensive:
They have a low yield per hectare cultivated than other crops like cocoa or coffee beans (though they have higher yields than coffee plants).
Why Is Mexican Vanilla So Cheap?
Mexican vanilla is so cheap because it’s very common in Mexico.
Vanilla is the second most expensive spice after saffron, but the price of Mexican vanilla is much lower than that of Tahitian and Indonesian vanilla.
This is because Mexican vanilla has become a commodity, which means that market forces determine its price instead of being set by the government or producers.
The price of Mexican vanilla fluctuates depending on supply and demand, just like any other product.
Lastly, ensure you’re not buying artificial vanilla extract because they too are affordable.
Do Vanilla Beans Go Bad?
Yes, but not as quick as you might have thought. Vanilla is one of the longest-lasting spices in the world, and when stored properly, it can last for years.
If you have some vanilla extract in your kitchen right now, chances are it’s still good to use!
Which Country Has The Best Vanilla?
The winner for best vanilla comes from Madagascar.
Madagascar was once known as the “vanilla island” because it produced almost 80% of all the world’s vanilla until recently, when Indonesia took over due to its cheaper labor costs and fewer restrictions on growing conditions.
But we’re talking about “quality,” not “cost.”
Madagascar produces quality beans because they have great weather conditions and lots of sunlight year-round (which helps them grow).
Now that you know where to find vanilla in grocery store, feel free to use this list with your next vanilla grocery shopping adventure.
That way, you can stock up on vanilla beans and other ingredients to help make your life as a baker that much easier —and there’s nothing difficult about that.