Vanilla Beans– Bourbon, Tahitian and Mexican. The three top origins of Vanilla Beans.
Bourbon: Does not mean it has Whiskey in it. It refers to the I’le de Bourbon, now known as Réunion. Most Bourbon vanilla is now grown on the island of Madagascar, the largest vanilla-producing region on the world. Bourbon vanilla is the strongest and most full-flavored of all the vanillas.
Tahiti-Tahitian vanilla has a more delicate flavor, are the thickest of the three and almost black in color. They are very aromatic, with floral accents. The most expensive variety but not necessarily the best for baking, as they have a subtle impact and quite honestly are used more in the cosmetics industry to make all things vanilla scented.
Mexico– Real Mexican vanilla can be considered the best in the world. The Mexican vanilla bean is a thicker and darker bean that has a smooth, strong, rich fragrance and flavor
Purchasing & Storing Vanilla Beans: Never buy hard, dry and shriveled beans because they are past their prime. Beans should be plump and somewhat moist. Wrap your vanilla beans in either wax paper or plastic wrap and store in an airtight glass or Tupperware container. Be sure to squeeze out as much air as possible from the container to prevent the vanilla beans from drying out. You should never store your vanilla beans in the refrigerator. Refrigeration will dry out your beans and excess moisture can promote a particular type of mold specific to vanilla. In a cool dry place they will stay fresh for about 8-12 months.