Last week's post on making your own vanilla extract reminded us that we are out of vanilla beans. If you buy vanilla beans at a grocery store you'll pay up to $9 for a single bean. This is way too much! You can get vanilla beans in bulk through the internet for far less money, and have plenty for baking.
It's probably not worth buying beans purely to make your own extract; buy what you need to bake with and then reuse them in a bottle of alcohol for extract you can use or give away as holiday gifts.
Click through for a few good sources of vanilla beans in bulk.
• eBay: The last time we bought beans in bulk we did it through eBay. We bought 35 Tahitenses variety beans for $2.25. With shipping at $5.50 the final price made us feel like we were either getting away with something illegal, or about to be duped.
But the beans arrived promptly, and they were plump and fragrant and wonderful for baking. They were slightly dryer than the more expensive fresh ones we find at Whole Foods, but at 22 cents a bean we weren't complaining.
Check out this auction - 1 pound of beans for $18.99, with shipping for $5. You can also find organic beans: 1/4 pound for $5.99, shipping $2. Both of those auctions end in the next few hours.
• Saffron Imports: Recommended by Melissa at The Traveler's Lunchbox in her original post on vanilla extract. Here a pound of vanilla beans will run you $19.95 to $28.95.
• The Spice House: User ktelschow recommended this Chicago shop. Their prices are slightly higher - 3 Mexican beans are $6.29.
(Image credit: The Vanilla Shop)