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vanilla bean seeds

As the pastry chef at New York’s Café Altro Paradiso and Flora Bar, Natasha Pickowicz knows vanilla is anything but plain—the long, oily pods have a heady, sweet aroma and a complex fruity-floral flavor. But the way they’re produced is just as complicated: Harvesting vanilla is labor-intensive, and its production is rife with labor and sustainability issues. Those problems led Pickowicz to Heilala, a small partnership of sustainable growers in Tonga who are producing some of the best-tasting vanilla beans in the world. “I love the aromatic and nutty-sweet quality of their beans,” Pickowicz says, “but also that they empower women to provide for their families or send their children to school.” In addition to whole beans, Heilala makes a super-fragrant extract, which shines in Pickowicz’s Vanilla–Brown Butter Sablé Cookies. Find Heilala Vanilla at

Pastry chef Natasha Pickowicz shares her ultimate holiday baking upgrade.

One vanilla bean, scraped, equals about 1 tablespoon vanilla extract. Use seeds right away. Save the empty pods to infuse sugar, cream, or milk.

How to Seed a Vanilla Bean Pod

The Exhausted Pods are dried and sieved to separate the seeds and the seeds are then steam sterilised.

These Exhausted Vanilla seeds are seeds from pods which have been previously used in the production of Vanilla Extract.

Exhausted Vanilla Seeds are used extensively in the food industry. The Seeds in their virgin state are known as caviar but are extremely expensive to buy particularly at the moment in this highly volatile vanilla market as it is today.

These Exhausted Seeds will give a very mild vanilla flavour and are mainly used for texture and visual appearance. They are extensively used in the ice cream industry, chocolatiers and also used in bakery, beverage and confectionery products.

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