Vanilla Bourbon Pods - V. Planifolia (16-18 cm)
- Vanilla Bourbon Pods (V. Planifolia) offer a sweet and complex aroma.
- These pods have a soft and pleasant taste, perfect for desserts.
- They are ideal for enhancing the flavor of puddings, cakes, cookies, creme brulee, and panna cotta.
- Great for making vanilla salt and sugar.
- To order Vanilla in packages of 250g, 500g, or 1kg, please send us an email.
What is Vanilla Bourbon?
Vanilla Bourbon is the fermented fruit capsule of orchids from the Vanilla Planifolia genus, primarily grown in Madagascar. Both Madagascar and Reunion Islands are renowned for their aromatic vanilla beans. However, the orchid plant originally hails from Mexico. Spanish seafarers introduced it to Europe in the late 16th century, where it quickly gained popularity as a spice. It was initially cherished for flavoring aromatic drinking chocolates and later found use in tobacco flavoring.
In the 19th century, the French and Dutch brought this orchid plant to their colonies. Around 1840, the French developed a method on the island of Reunion to manually fertilize the flowers of this particular orchid species. This marked the birth of the first bourbon vanilla beans.
How are vanilla beans turned into Bourbon?
The Vanilla Planifolia orchid species takes three years to begin flowering, eventually producing vanilla beans after pollination. From the pollination of the flower to the development of the pod, it takes a little over a year. The entire production process is highly time-consuming and done entirely by hand.
The orchid flowers bloom for only 48 hours before they perish. During this brief window, pollination must be meticulously carried out by hand. The flower is carefully opened using a bamboo tool, and the stigma and stamens of each flower are gently pressed together without damaging the flower. From this point, it takes between 4-9 months for the vanilla beans to fully ripen. The pod is considered ready for harvest when its tip changes from green to yellow while remaining completely odorless. The seductive perfume of the pod only develops during the subsequent lengthy processing process.
From Harvest to Vanilla Beans
Immediately after harvest, the immature vanilla pods are heated in a water bath at a temperature of 70 °C for 2-3 minutes. The temperature must not exceed this limit, as it could cause the pods to burst, resulting in the loss of the harvest.
Next, the pods are wrapped in blankets and placed in wooden boxes for 2-3 days, initiating the fermentation process and allowing the vanilla aroma to develop. At this stage, the brown vanilla pods are still oily and plump. They are then left to dry for 2-3 hours daily over a span of five weeks, followed by another period of sweating while wrapped in towels. Due to moisture loss during this process, approximately 4-6 kg of originally green vanilla beans yield only 1 kilogram of bourbon vanilla for retail.
Storage of Vanilla Bourbon
For optimal storage, keep vanilla beans packed in a cool, dark, and airtight environment. If your pods dry out over time during prolonged storage, you can briefly place them in a warm water bath to restore their softness, making them easier to process. You can also grind dry pods into a powder for alternative use.