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Vanilla bean by John Spottiswood.

Vanilla is used to flavor everything from baked goods to ice cream. Most recipes call for vanilla extract, but some argue that vanilla beans lend a more potent flavor. Select beans that are shiny, moist, and pliable--dried out beans aren't nearly as potent. If a recipe calls for just for the seeds, split the bean open and scrape the seeds out, and save the outer pod to flavor sugar or hot drinks.

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Also known as

  • Vanilla pod

Substitutes

vanilla extract (One inch of vanilla bean = 1 teaspoon extract)

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