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
In 1880, vanilla (fruit of an orchid) from Reunion Island arrived in Madagascar. French settlers imported the best feet to plant on the Great Island. Its ideal climate and the ancestral know-how of its farmers make it today one of the best vanilla in the world.
What is Bourbon Vanilla?
It was at the beginning of the 19th century that the orchid “Vanilla Planifolia” was imported from Mexico to Reunion Island. Its name comes from the old appellation of 3Bourbon Island”. It is in reference to this origin that the vanilla produced in the Indian Ocean is so called, since 1964. Bourbon vanilla is of an exceptional quality, with dark brown pods, supple and about 18 cm long. Their flavor is sweet, fruity and rich in vanillin, the perfume 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 vanilla is between 25% and 35%. The aroma must have a clear and pronounced vanilla smell, without being woody. It can form frost on well prepared Bourbon vanilla, resulting from the crystallization of vanilla essential oil. Discovering them on the pods is an additional indication of quality.
The vanilla flower
The first vanilla flower of the vanilla plant will appear from the first year. But it takes 5 years before the vanilla plant reaches adulthood. The flowers of this one are grouped by eight and form a small bouquet under the axils of the leaves. The flower is white or pale yellow. They’re only going to live half a day, so it’s the race to marry these little princesses. If they are not fertilized, they will wither and then die.
The fruit of the flower: the vanilla pod
The fruit of the vanilla is called the pod. It is long, it is a dry fruit that looks like a big bean. But if we’re talking about botany, we’re looking at a capsule. The capsule is a fleshy fruit that opens at maturity to release its seeds through a slit. After its fertilization, the ovary that served 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.
Edmon Albius: the slave who discovers the secret of creation
For about twenty years, the vanilla vines implanted in Reunion remain infertile, the insect or bird able to pollinate its flowers missing at the call. In 1841, Edmond Albius, a budding botanist slave, found the secret of manual fertilization, lifting with a spike the partition separating the male and female organs of the flower. The future of Bourbon vanilla is assured…
Traditional manufacturing techniques
Two years of care are needed to move from the flower to the precious brown pod! Inspired by Mexican techniques, Reunionese Ernest Loupy and David de Floris developed the manufacturing process in the 19th century. The process begins with scalding the green pods in water raised to 65°C and then by steaming, where they acquire their beautiful black colour.
Last step: drying
The natural drying in the sun is done daily for 2 to 3 weeks, then on shelves in the shade is crucial for the quality of Bourbon vanilla pods. To develop their aroma, they are then stored for 2 to 3 months in a wooden trunk whose interior is covered with paraffin paper.
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