Vanilla Bean Basics

Vanilla beans can be found at specialty grocery stores. Look for those that are labeled "premium" and that are 6 to 8 inches long. The beans should have a rich, full aroma and should be supple, moist and glossy. Avoid beans that are dry and short and that have no scent.
You can store vanilla beans indefinitely in a cool, dark place in an airtight container. Refrigeration will cause them to harden and crystallize.