Just like wine grapes, vanilla beans develop different flavors depending on where they’re grown. In honor of National Vanilla Ice Cream day, we asked Beth and Craig Nielsen, siblings and owners at Nielsen-Massey to tell us about the four types of vanilla beans and extracts you’re likely to encounter.
Madagascar Bourbon beans come from Madagascar’s Bourbon islands, and their sweet, creamy flavor is what we tend to think of as classic. This is a great all-purpose vanilla for using in any sweet or savory dish, say the Nielsens.
Mexican beans have a sweet, creamy flavor but with a bit of a spicy character, like clove or nutmeg. The flavor pairs well with spices like cinnamon and cloves, as well as chocolate and spicy chilies, salsas or barbecue sauces.