I love pure, true Mexican extract. It’s very floral with tropical notes. to learn a little more about them and why vanilla bean prices vary and fluctuate so broadly. JavaScript seems to be disabled in your browser. Is the world’s largest vanilla market on the verge of collapse? But in general, I don’t use much vanilla from these regions. do you make your own vanilla sugar? Harvest at the Proper Time You should also be aware of how to store the vanilla beans properly. The full cultivation story is truly remarkable, if you’ve got a minute. Thanks for this :). -just vanilla seeds, sometimes called vanilla ‘caviar’, and quite expensive. How embarrassing. There are no hard and fast rules, as some pastes are stronger than others. Though I didn’t have any demitasse cups. Learn how vanilla beans are grown and pollinated and how to choose and store vanilla beans.Remarkably aromatic, delightfully sensuous. After they are pollinated, the beans are branded (to prevent theft), harvested, cured and air-dried for up to one month: during which time they’re rolled up and stored away each evening to prevent condensation and theft. Studies have shown that alcohol changes the way your senses “taste” flavors, so I add a bit of vanilla extract to vanilla-based recipes, even if I’ve infused them with vanilla beans. However, buying two 16cm beans for the same price as one 18cm bean is going to give you a greater yield. Purists will choose to cut the bean lengthwise and scrape the seeds loose from the bean. I consider myself a vanilla junky, I might run out of any spices, (including salt and pepper!) – whole vanilla beans, dried and ground up The process can’t be done by machine. Often in some of these countries, vanilla beans are dried over fires to speed up the process, giving the vanilla beans a smoky aroma. Since light and heat are the biggest enemies of extracts, store them in a cool, dark place, but not the refrigerator since separation and condensation can cause them to spoil. I keep several bottles on hand, using vanilla from Madagascar and Mexico (the real stuff) most frequently. Commercially-available extract has a very high ratio of beans-to-alcohol: Single-fold vanilla has about 13 ounces of vanilla beans (about 100 beans) per gallon of alcohol. If possible, I sniff the vanilla before buying when it’s been produced in any of these countries. The vanilla at the chain stores and online is really cheap. Vanilla was first cultivated by the Totonec people of Mexico. Sure. http://smallfarms.typepad.com/small_farms/2005/11/the_vanilla_que.html. And they, in turn, introduced vanilla to Europe. Or they can be ground with flaky sea salt to make vanilla salt, which is nice sprinkled delicately over a chocolate tart or other dessert. What is single-fold and double-fold vanilla? An excellent book that I recommend is Vanilla: The Cultural History of the World’s Favorite Flavor and Fragrance, where you’ll find historical and cultural information on this popular flavoring. They should be pliable enough to bend without breaking, and they should be dark brown (almost black). I hope you forgive me. To keep vanilla beans moist and plump, store them in airtight bags in a cool, dark place – not the refrigerator, since moisture can cause them to mold. Only two species — Vanilla planifolia and Vanilla tahitensis (Tahitian vanilla) — are cultivated for commercial use as a flavoring or fragrance. Pure vanilla is expensive. thanks for all the great info! Their url is http://www.saffron.com : ). They can be re-use for infusing or poaching with fruit, as they still contain a lot of their precious flavor. Vanilla should be stored at around 18-20 degrees celsius out of direct sunlight, preferably in the dark. After some timely tip-offs from bloggers in the know, I’ve started buying vanilla over the net at ridiculously cheap prices (through ebay and other ‘direct importers’) – I’m curious, have you come into contact with any of this bargain basement stuff and/or have thoughts as to its quality? What an informative post, thanks. You can also have this same problem from beans you buy individually in jars sitting on a counter top. They also contain more seeds than Tahitian vanilla beans.. Tahitian vanilla beans, Vanilla tahitensis, are grown in the South Pacific. There is also a difference between the two main vanilla species which you can read about here. Vanilla: The Cultural History of the World’s Favorite Flavor and Fragrance, Mexican “Vanilla” with Coumarin No Bargain. The last few years the wholesale price went up like 2000% (yes, really) but this year it’s gotten much cheaper. When vanilla was expensive, I merely baked without it rather than turn to artificial flavorings. If all the beans aren’t used they can be vacuum sealed again, or stored in an airtight container however they will start to lose their moisture more rapidly. This is often because they have been re-packed, and sitting on the shelf for months or years and not stored correctly. Frontier invites you to steep yourself in the history, legend, science and culinary enchantment this exotic spice has inspired since its discovery. Longer beans are far more expensive as there are fewer of them so you will pay a premium. I know of but have not ordered from a website that only sells saffron, vanilla, and mushrooms. Political unrest and commercial reliance on pure vanilla increased demand and raised the prices worldwide. Because this valuable crop is cultivated in impoverished countries, looting, theft and violence are unfortunately common. Many thanks! Years and Years ago I saw a photograph of someone hand-pollonating a vanilla orchid. I also keep beans on hand, which I store well-wrapped in a drawer, which I use for infusing and steeping in things like vanilla ice cream. Later, the Spanish Conquistadors were indoctrinated into the joys of vanilla when they conquered the Aztecs. Real Mexican vanilla is perhaps the best in the world, and the price of pure Mexican vanilla is similar to other pure vanilla extracts. Vanilla cultivation is dangerous business. The lovers were captured and beheaded. A bigger quantity won't make up for better quality. Vanilla is perhaps the most indispensible flavoring in any kitchen! So stock up! Personally, I find those extracts weaker in flavor than their more admittedly pricier counterparts so I don’t use them. Can I use that? Each orchid stalk can take two to three years to produce its first flower, which needs to be pollinated by hand. They’re just naturally moister. Melissa: Now next time you’ll try the Bourbon vanilla macarons at Laduree. but never vanilla beans ;) The only question left: Should I get yet another book on vanilla… ;), Hey David, love the post! (Most of the alcohol cooks out during baking, but trace amounts do remain.) Vanilla cultivation is also the most labor-intensive of all food crops. California Transparency in Supply Chains Act Disclosure. If immersed in hot liquid you will find the bean will re-hydrate and be pliable once more. Michele: I buy my vanilla at http://www.vanillaqueen.com, from Paticia Rain. Vanilla extract is made by soaking vanilla beans in alcohol. What’s the difference between the three different “origins” of vanilla that are available? Beans; Harvesting Vanilla Beans. Well-dried vanilla beans can be buried and stored in a container of sugar for a few weeks to make vanilla sugar, which can be used in place of regular sugar in things like whipped cream.