The two biggest countries for vanilla bean production are Indonesia and Madagascar. Indonesian vanilla beans are also sometimes referred to as Tahitian, while Madagascar are occasionally called Madagascar bourbon.
Which is best? That’s a tough one—there is a split opinion on this.
Fans of Indonesian/Tahitian vanilla beans say they have a lighter, almost floral aroma. These beans infuse a sweeter vanilla flavor when used in baking.
Devotees of Madagascar bourbon vanilla beans, on the other hand, love their stronger, richer aroma. This is the classic vanilla flavor most folks think of when vanilla is on the menu.
Yes, we tried vanilla beans from 9 brands in various grades in different recipes (baking, cooking) as well as making homemade vanilla extract.
What was best for extract?
When it comes to buying vanilla beans to make your own extract at home, we’d suggest Vanilla Beans Kings beans—this 10 pack of Grade B vanilla beans is a top recommendation, after trying it out in our own test kitchen.
What We Liked
• Vacuum sealed.
• Nice aroma.
What Needs Work
• Smaller in size. But that is true for most Grade B vanilla beans (versus Grade A beans).