Buy Bourbon Vanilla from Madagascar Online
- Bourbon Vanilla (Vanilla Planifolia) offers a sweet and complex aroma.
- It has a soft and pleasant taste, perfect for desserts.
- Great for enhancing the flavor of puddings, cakes, biscuits, creme brulee, and panna cotta.
- Can be used for the production of vanilla salt and sugar.
What is Bourbon Vanilla?
Bourbon vanilla refers to the fermented fruit capsules of orchids from the Vanilla Planifolia genus, primarily grown in Madagascar. Both Madagascar and Réunion Islands are renowned for their aromatic bourbon vanilla pods.
However, the orchid plant originally comes from Mexico. Spanish sailors brought them to Europe at the end of the 16th century, where they quickly became a sought-after spice. They were highly popular for preparing aromatic drinking chocolates and later used for flavoring tobacco.
In the 19th century, the French and Dutch brought this orchid plant to their colonies. On the island of Réunion, around 1840, the French developed a process for fertilizing the flowers of this orchid species manually. This marked the birth of the first bourbon vanilla pods.
How are Bourbon Vanilla Pods Made?
It takes three years for Vanilla Planifolia to produce its first flower, from which vanilla pods can grow after fertilization. From the pollination of the flower to the development of the pod, it takes a little over a year. The entire manufacturing process is highly time-consuming and entirely done by hand.
The orchid flowers bloom for only 48 hours before they wither. During this short period, pollination must be carried out manually. The flower is carefully opened using a bamboo tool, and the stigma and stamens of each flower are gently pressed together without crushing the bud.
From this point, it takes between 4-9 months for the vanilla pods to fully mature. The pod is considered ready for harvest when its tip changes from green to yellow while remaining completely odorless. It is during the subsequent lengthy processing process that the pod develops its seductive perfume.
From Harvest to Bourbon Vanilla Pods
Immediately after harvest, the unripe 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 and result in the loss of the harvest.
Next, the pods are wrapped in blankets and placed in wooden boxes for 2-3 days, initiating fermentation and the formation of the aromatic compound vanillin.
At this stage, the vanilla pods turn brown while remaining oily and plump. They are then sun-dried 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 pods yield only 1 kg of bourbon vanilla for retail.
Storage of Bourbon Vanilla
Please store the vanilla pods in a cool, dark, and airtight manner. If your pods dry out over time during prolonged storage, you can briefly place them in a warm water bath to restore their softness and facilitate processing. You can also grind the dry pods into a powder for alternative use.