There's nothing quite like the taste of fresh vanilla in recipes for sweets, baked goods and ice cream. Though vanilla extract, made mostly from alcohol, can provide a respectable amount of vanilla flavor, real vanilla beans are essential if you want the flavor to be both fresh and strong. In order to disseminate the flavor of fresh vanilla beans, you must grind them, either by hand or by machine.
Using A Coffee Grinder
Wash the grinder to remove all traces of coffee from previous uses. Dust out as many grounds as you can while the grinder is dry, then use a clean, damp dish cloth or paper towel (make sure the grinder is unplugged while you do this). Try to get all of the grounds out, as any that remain will mix in with the ground beans and change the flavor.
Cut the beans into smaller chunks using a knife and cutting board. Make the pieces about ½ inch or less each—small enough to fit and move about easily in the grinder.
Place the beans in the grinder and run the grinder (use its highest setting if applicable) until the beans are a consistent fine paste.
Remove the vanilla bean paste from the grinder. Unplug the grinder and scrape the paste from the inside using a small spoon. Refrigerate paste.
Using Mortar And Pestle
Mince the beans. Cut the beans with a knife and cutting board into the smallest pieces you can; the smaller you cut them, the easier they'll be to grind by hand.
Place the beans in the bowl of the mortar and pestle. Scrape the cutting board with the knife to rid all traces of paste and juice.
Grind the minced beans with the mortal and pestle. Use both a grinding and stirring motion in conjunction, applying firm pressure. Continue until the beans are ground into a consistent fine paste. Refrigerate paste until use.