I've been buying a bunch of things online recently and two of my packages arrived today. The first was from Brambleberry and contained the thing I needed to make soaps for my sister's baby shower. I plan on making oatmeal milk and honey bars to give as favors. Since shipping is pretty pricey, I threw in some other items as well, to make it more worth it (I think that's how they get you to buy more stuff!). All in all, in addition to the fragrance I needed, I also got three 3oz size lotion dispensers (will be useful for traveling), some crushed walnut shells and apricot seeds to try out as exfoliants and a lavender fragrance oil. Brambleberry also included a sample scent, wakeup rosemary.
My second package was from Vanilla Products USA (ebay store). I found out about them through the simple dollar's homemade gift series and it was also through this that I became interested in making soap. But I digress. I wasn't interested in buying vanilla in bulk until I bought a replacement ice cream maker (which will arrive tomorrow). Suddenly though, the idea of fresh vanilla ice cream (my favorite flavor) could not be resisted, but my thrifty nature balked at paying the exorbitant prices they charge in the supermarkets for beans. So I recalled this post and ended up buying 1/2 pound of Gourmet A Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Beans for $26 + $5 shipping. Vanilla Products also threw in a free pack containing 1/4 pound of Grade A Tahitian Vanilla Beans. So how many beans did I get?
Here we have the Madagascar beans. The color here is not quite right, they look rather more black than brown. And they smelled incredibly divine, just like warm vanilla. Wonderful. And there were 71 beans! Some of them might have been stuck together so I may have more than that. As for the Tahitian beans, they were shorter in length and there were about 45 beans in the pack. I found the scent of these rather strange, sort of floral? I'm not sure what to do with these. As suggested on the package, I quickly triple wrapped each type of bean in plastic and then stuff them in different ziplock bags and stored them in my cupboard (cool dark place). Cook's Illustrated suggests wrapping them (individually!) in plastic, putting them in a zip lock bag and then storing in either the freezer or refrigerator. I may split them up and try each method to see...I certainly have enough beans. There will be no individually wrapping though, that's just insane.
So basically, I have more vanilla beans than one person could possibly use. Some of it will go to the Bunny and my mom and I think I will give some to Laurie since she's been gifting me with plants. I plan to make vanilla extract and vanilla ice cream and possibly creme brulee, but what does one do after that? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.