I purchase vanilla beans from the ladies over at Sistermixin. If you are looking for a supplier of beans I highly recommend these ones, they are large and very plump and fresh. My order always arrives very quickly and the beans are priced very well.
I like to make vanilla bean paste to keep in the cupboard to have ready to spoon out to use. When I first made the paste I researched quite a few recipes on the internet but decided to use the one that the Sistermixin ladies have used themselves. I figured if they sell the beans then they must be a reliable source for a paste recipe
And I was not wrong – the recipe is very simple to make, and it keeps well with (so far) no sign of any crystallization. I only make one slight adjustment to the recipe; I use 10 beans instead of the 6-8 they suggest. Otherwise I follow the recipe exactly – you can find it here.
The recipe requires vanilla extract, which is easy to purchase, but you can also make this yourself. The Sistermixin ladies also provide a recipe for this (in their free Christmas e-book). Or there are several other recipes online, such as this one from Changing Habits, here
The paste has a variety of uses, I add it to all types of baking (cakes, muffins, slices). Wherever ‘vanilla’ or ‘vanilla essence’ is asked for I use paste instead. It is also lovely when used to flavour home made yoghurt, ice-cream, milkshakes, jam, puddings, sauces… it has so many uses. It is not a thick consistency, so don’t be surprised it if seems a lot runnier than the shop purchased paste. This is normal and the taste is just a potent.
Once you have tasted the difference you will be instantly converted. And, as with anything you make yourself, you know exactly what is in it when you make it from scratch.