Aah, vanilla... Just mentioning its name, powerful and sweet perfumes invade our nostrils and bring back images of our childhood, small perfumed grains stuck on our fingers, and which, once infused, spread a bewitching smell in the kitchen… However, it is difficult to find good vanilla pods, because the quality of what is offered in stores is variable. SO which vanilla to choose and for what use? How to properly preserve its aromas? Let yourself be guided by Quai Sud.
There is vanilla and vanilla…
To obtain vanilla, patience is required. It takes about 18 months to get a pod ready to taste. She is the fruit of an orchid Mexican flower whose flower is pollinated by a local bee, the melipone, which means that outside of Mexico, the vanilla flower, which blooms only one day per season, must be fertilized manually: a colossal task. 9 months later, the “vanilla babies” are harvested. The pods are scalded, steamed then dried, before being refined for several months. In short, vanilla is worth it! 💪
Si vanilla cultivation is almost identical in the world, there is however not only one vanilla. Like wine, it has its varieties and its terroirs which modify its flavor. There are mainly 3 types of vanilla:
- Vanilla Planifolia : grown in Mexico, the Indian Ocean, Tonga and Uganda. It provides the most famous of all: Bourbon vanilla from Madagascar. Rich in vanillin, it is picked before maturity to prevent it from splitting.
- Vanilla Tahitensis: grown in Polynesia, Tahitian vanilla is harvested at full maturity because it does not split. His production is very confidential but exceptional. It is found more in delicatessens.
- Vanilla pompona : also called vanilla or banana vanilla, it is grown in Central America and the West Indies. Apart from a few exceptions, it is not very aromatic. It is used rather in perfumery.
Choose your vanilla pods wisely
Choosing your vanilla can be learned, and Quai Sud is here to help you! A quality vanilla pod must meet certain criteria, so trust your senses :
- The smell : the pod gives off a distinct smell of vanilla, with no smell of fermentation or alcohol. Well, it's difficult through a computer screen, but once received, do not hesitate to breathe it for a long time to identify its aromas 😊.
- View : the pod is shiny without being shiny, long and fleshy, without major defects (stains, tears, scars). Its color is uniform and dark. Reddish filaments? It is a second choice vanilla, rather intended for the manufacture of extract.
- Touch : supple, slightly oily and moist, the grains roll under the envelope. The best pods can be tied without breaking (be careful, the gesture is technical ➰).
- taste : a few grains are enough to flavor a dish.
Let's focus on Bourbon and Tahitian vanilla to choose them well according to your dish:
- Bourbon vanilla is black and fleshy, it gives off a warm and subtle fragrance of flowers, cocoa and amber rum. Frosted, it is the guarantee of a great richness in vanillin. It is used in savory dishes such as duck, and of course in desserts.
- Tahitian vanilla is brownish, longer, moist and fleshy than Bourbon. This variety has a great aromatic complexity, reinforced by the absence of scalding and steaming. Less rich in vanillin, it does have intense aromas of anise and tonka bean. Ideal in desserts, it is fabulous with white fish and scallops...
Preserve the aromas of vanilla
Now that you have found the pod of your dreams, you have to take care of this exceptional product which, depending on its quality and origin, is currently trading between 300 and 600€ per kilo 😮. Protect it from air, light, heat and humidity. Avoid contact with other spices that would alter its taste, as well as packaging that dries out the pod or promotes the development of mold (plastic bag or film, aluminum foil, paper towel, etc.).
Prefer packaged pods in glass tubes hermetically sealed with a plastic cap. The more pods there are in the tube, the less air there is, and the better their flavor is preserved. You can also keep them in a metal box adapted to their size. The must remains vacuum preservation, which preserves their humidity. By following these tips, your pods will remain supple and aromatic for up to 18 months.
Over time, the vanilla bean loses its moisture and becomes brittle, but there is no question of throwing it away: the vanilla remains fragrant and can be reused ! Did you infuse your pod? Rinse it then dry it. Then slip it into a jar of brown sugar to make your own vanilla sugar, or reduce it in powder to raise your dishes 😋!
Do you love vanilla? Discover all Quai Sud vanillas !