Cooking and Baking

"Leathery" Vanilla Beans - Can They Be Rescued?

I have two vials of vanilla beans that unfortunately were lost (and forgotten) in the back of a cupboard. I wonder if they can be salvaged? They are hard and stiff. I would like to use them in recipes for ice cream as I just bought a Cuisinart ice cream maker. Will they soften in boiling water? If it is not possible to soften them enough to retrieve the seeds, could I use them to make vanilla extract with vodka? I hate to toss them. Any advice?

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