Splitting a Vanilla Bean

Split Vanilla Bean

Split Vanilla Bean

In case you have never seen a vanilla bean in your life, you may be wondering how you split one correctly.  It’s pretty basic once you know what you’re doing.  You want to take a paring knife and insert the tip in the center of the bean.  Pull the bean, not the blade, along the length of the bean (the bean is now cut halfway).  Then turn the bean around and repeat.  (You are only splitting the bean once, but you do it with two cuts.  This prevents you from going off line during your cut which would yield a smaller amount of seeds to scrape.)  After you have split the bean in half take the back of the knife and run it along the length of each bean (see image above).  Repeat this for the other half of the bean.

As for buying vanilla beans, I would definitely check out the Internet.  Beans you buy at a supermarket will be at least twice as expensive, and nowhere near as fresh.  I buy my beans from The Boston Vanilla Bean Company.  I would recommend Madagascan Vanilla Beans.  They have the flavor that I look for in a vanilla bean and are very consistent.   Store  your vanilla beans in a ziptop bag inside an airtight container.  Stick that in the fridge and they should last 6 months to a year.

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7 Responses to “Splitting a Vanilla Bean”


  1. 1 dave December 7, 2009 at 10:30 am

    i was wondering, can you eat the raw vanilla beans?

    • 2 fritish January 26, 2010 at 12:38 pm

      The bean husk itself? I wouldn’t eat that. It won’t hurt you or anything though. You could chew on it I guess. Or boil them in a dessert sauce to get extra flavor out of it.
      The contents of the bean, the little dark specks are fine to eat.

  2. 3 Azoraa April 3, 2010 at 8:04 pm

    Is the bean husk any good to chew on? Is it safe to mince and add to other ingredients?

    • 4 fritish April 6, 2010 at 2:05 pm

      Well, you can chew on it. It does have some flavor, but it’s very fiber-y and doesn’t have the greatest texture. It’s safe though. You won’t poison anybody by using it. In fact, homemade vanilla extract is made by soaking split beans (husks too) in alcohol. So, as an ingredient, it’s fine, but mostly for texture reasons you don’t see it used often as an ingredient.

  3. 5 Diane May 27, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    I read that refrigerating vanilla bean dries them out. My apt. is very hot in the summer so I’d prefer to refrigerate it. Also, can I store a cut bean if I’ve only used half of the husk?

    • 6 fritish May 27, 2011 at 4:27 pm

      You are correct, refrigerating vanilla beans can dry them out. That said, it doesn’t really do much hard to them other than that, so depending on your use it might be OK. It will make it harder to remove the interior seeds of it though.

      My suggestion though is this: I’d recommend keeping it in an airtight container. You can actually buy vanilla beans in small vials. The beans are folded in half and are usually two to a jar. If you can find one of these, pick it up. I’ve stored half beans in them for several months with no ill effect.
      Here is an example of the vial: http://www.sears.com/shc/s/p_10153_12605_SPM3318131701P?prdNo=7

      Once you get that, if it warms your heart to keep it in the fridge, go ahead. Enjoy!


  1. 1 Vanilla Crème Brûlée « Safe To Eat Trackback on November 2, 2008 at 10:18 pm

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