Vanilla is graded on length, appearance and moisture – along with being blemish free, dark and oily.
When making extract grade B beans are preferred because of the lower moisture content creating a concentrated vanilla flavor at a lower price.
Vanilla beans should be soft and pliable and could last up to 6 months refrigerated in an airtight glass jar. Extracts and paste last longer – keep sealed, cool and I dark places.
Pastes are more expensive than extracts and more difficult to blend evenly however, the thicker texture works wonderful for frostings, puddings, creams and savory dishes.
Grind dried pods in a spice mill to use as a powder flavoring for pastry dough.
Now – Do you know approximately how many seeds per bean?