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Old 01-14-2006, 11:00 PM   #1
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Rehydrating Vanilla Beans?

I am so angry, I could scream. I bought a pound of tahitian vanilla beans about 3 months ago on ebay. They were plump, fragrant, and to put it simply, perfect. The seller had rave reviews, so I wasn't surprised. After using two of them, I wrapped them tight in plastic wrap, then put that in an airtight ziplock bag, and put the bag in an airtight jar. I checked for any leaks beforehand, and there were none, but I triple wrapped them nonetheless, just to be safe.

I went to retrieve a few beans for a creme brulee earlier today, and they were all dry as bone! First off, how could this have happened? I stored them so airtight, and they are supposed to last about a year that way. Secondly, does this mean this guy could be possibly sending old beans that don't have much time/freshness left?

In any event, can vanilla beans be rehydrated in boiling water? If so, do you lose flavor by doing so? I spent a lot of money on them, so I'm hoping to be able salvage something. Suffice it to say, I'm never ordering from this man again!

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Old 01-14-2006, 11:33 PM   #2
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I don't think the seller is at fault. The beans were perfect when you received them. At that point they were out of the seller's control.

Do not put the into boiling, or any other kind of water.

If you want to use a bean or beans, split them open and poach them in the liquid you're trying to flavor, such as milk, cream, etc. They still have flavor in them, it will just be harder to get out.
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Old 01-15-2006, 07:58 AM   #3
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Thank you, Andy. I guess I'm just shocked that they dried up when they were sealed so tightly, and only 3 months old! In any event, I can't even split them before I put them into the cream, because they are as hard rocks, and crack into tiny pieces when I try :(
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Old 01-15-2006, 09:32 AM   #4
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This is just a thought so someone should check my info before Lisa trys this, but what if she put the beans in the microwave on low power for a very short amount of time, just to soften enough so she can split them and then take Andy's advice of poaching them?
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Old 01-15-2006, 10:39 AM   #5
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I never tried the microwave. If you try it, wrap the beans in a damp paper towel first. The moisture will help soften the beans.

However, I don't think it's necessary. If the bean breaks up into small pieces when you try to split it, that will just expose more if the inside to the liquid and speed the extraction of flavor. After you're done, you just strain the liquid to get out all the bean bits.
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Old 01-15-2006, 10:02 PM   #6
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Thanks, andy and gb. I will give the microwave idea a try and let you know how it went. I guess less than a minute will do?
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Old 01-15-2006, 10:11 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lisa110
Thanks, andy and gb. I will give the microwave idea a try and let you know how it went. I guess less than a minute will do?

Try 10 or 15 seconds to start. What you want to do is heat the damp paper towel to make steam that will moisten the beans.

This method is how I defrost frozen rolls. It keeps the edges from getting hard by the time the center defrosts.
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Old 01-16-2006, 11:30 PM   #8
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Thanks, Andy. I will be making a vanilla bean Pound cake on Wednesday, so I'll let you know how it goes then. :)
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Old 02-02-2006, 07:09 AM   #9
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Andy, sorry it's taken so long to get back. Some unexpected things came up, so I wasn't able to try your idea for rehydrating the beans enough so I could slice and scrape them. Well..I did finally try it, and it worked, but I had a very small window to work with, as I could feel it starting to harden as I scraped out the beans. Nevertheless, at least I can salvage something out of them! Thank you so much for your time and advice :)
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