Fresh vanilla beans impart an unparalleled flavour. While there are acceptable substitutions available, none are equivalent to the whole vanilla bean. The following guide demonstrates how to remove the seeds.
First place the bean on the cutting board and use the back of the knife (the dull part) to flatten the bean.
Hold the bean flat on the board and starting at the stem end, place your blade parallel to the cutting board and start slicing down the bean. Place the two halves of the bean parallel to each other and use the blade to scrape the beans off and use as per the recipe. The remaining pod can still be used either heated with milk or cream in a dish and then discarded, added to sugar as it is or finely ground with sugar to make vanilla sugar. If kept whole, it can be reused by rinsing, drying and freezing until next needed.