Whole vanilla beans are excellent for dishes where the characteristic flecks of the natural bean will enhance the presentation of a dish. The vanilla bean adds a gourmet touch to desserts such as crème brulee, ice creams and cakes. You can cut up a vanilla bean and use it to infuse the rich flavour into a sweet or savoury sauce or marinade; discard the bean prior to serving. There is flavour throughout the whole vanilla bean. To use one, you can slice it horizontally down the middle of the bean, open up the pod and scrape the inside to get the vanilla seeds or specks out, or use the whole bean itself or cut it up. The vanilla bean can be reused for more than one application.
One vanilla bean is equivalent to approximately one tablespoon of vanilla extract. Store in a tightly sealed container away from direct sunlight and at room temperature. Stored under such conditions, vanilla beans should keep up to two years. Do not refrigerate.