Bourbon vanilla from Madagascar

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We have carefully selected a producer of Bourbon vanilla from Madagascar (also called vanigasy), to offer you the best flavors of this precious spice.

The origin of vanilla in Madagascar

It was in 1880 that vanilla (fruit of an orchid) from Reunion Island arrived in Madagascar. French settlers import the best vines to plant them on the Big Island. Its ideal climate and the ancestral know-how of its farmers make it today one of the best vanilla in the world.

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What is Bourbon Vanilla?

It was at the beginning of the 19th century that the “Vanilla Planifolia” orchid was imported from Mexico to Reunion Island. Its name comes from the old name of this one: Bourbon Island. It is in reference to this origin that the vanilla produced in the Indian Ocean has been so named since 1964. Bourbon vanilla is of exceptional quality, whose pods are dark brown, flexible and approximately 18 cm long. Their flavor is sweet, fruity and rich in vanillin, the fragrance is round and generous. The presence of vanillin crystals on the surface of the pod is a guarantee of quality. 

Characteristics of a good Bourbon vanilla

The natural vanillin content is between 1,8% and 2,3%, and the moisture content for black vanillas is 25% to 35%. The aroma must have a frank and pronounced smell of vanilla, without being woody. Frost can form on well-prepared Bourbon vanillas, which results from the crystallization of the vanilla essential oil. Discovering some on the pods is an additional indication of quality.

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vanilla flower

The first vanilla flower of the vanilla tree will appear from the first year. But it takes 5 years before the vanilla tree reaches adulthood.

The flowers of this one are grouped by eight and form a small bouquet under the armpits of the leaves. The flower is white or pale yellow. They will only live for half a day, so it's the race to marry these little princesses. If they are not fertilized, they will wither and then die.

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The fruit of the flower: the vanilla pod

The vanilla fruit is called the pod. This one is long, it is a dry fruit that looks like a large bean. But if we talk about botany, we are in front of a capsule. The capsule is a non-fleshy fruit that opens at maturity to release its seeds through a slit.

After its fertilization, the ovary which acted as a peduncle at the base of the flower will turn into a hanging pod, 12 to 25 centimeters long. The fresh and still odorless pods have a diameter of 7 to 10 millimeters.

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Edmon Albius: the slave who discovers the secret of creation

For twenty years, the vanilla vines planted in Reunion remain infertile, the insect or bird capable of pollinating its flowers missing. In 1841, Edmond Albius, a budding slave botanist, found the secret of manual fertilization by lifting the partition separating the male and female organs of the flower with a spade. The future of Bourbon vanilla is assured...

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Ancestral manufacturing techniques

Two years of care are needed to go from the flower to the precious brown pod! Inspired by Mexican techniques, Reunion Islanders Ernest Loupy and David de Floris perfected the manufacturing process in the 19th century. The process begins with the scalding of the green pods in water heated to 65°C, followed by steaming, where they acquire their beautiful black color.

Last step: drying

Natural drying in the sun is done daily for 2 to 3 weeks, then on racks in the shade is decisive for the quality of the Bourbon vanilla pods. To develop their aroma, they are then stored for 2 to 3 months in a wooden trunk, the interior of which is lined with paraffin paper.

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