FAQs

  

The Vanilla Bean

What is vanilla?

Why use vanilla?

How is vanilla grown, cured and harvested?

What are the best vanilla beans?

Do all beans have the same flavor?

Are there different types of vanilla?

What is vanilla “caviar”?

Are Bourbon beans from Bourbon Island and Tahitian beans from Tahiti?
Do Bourbon beans contain alcohol?

Why are the Gold Label Tahitian beans more expensive?

What are the different lengths of vanilla beans and which are better?

How does the moisture content or color affect the quality of a bean?

How to choose the right vanilla bean?

Extract, Beans, Powder or Paste: which should I use?

Should vanilla beans be stored in the fridge or freezer?

How should I store my Vanilla? How long will it last?

My beans seem to have an unfamiliar aroma!
How do I cook with a vanilla bean?


Pure Vanilla Extract 


Does pure vanilla extract contain alcohol?

Can I use pure vanilla extract for baking?

How do I make vanilla extract?

What does a ‘fold’ mean when buying vanilla extract?

Can natural vanilla extract be a clear, colorless solution?

What is Imitation Vanilla Extract or Artificial Vanillin? 




 

THE VANILLA BEAN 


 What is vanilla?

Vanilla is the most popular flavor in the world. This interesting spice is the dried fruit of the vanilla orchid plant (the vanilla orchid is the only edible fruit-bearing orchid from among 20,000 orchid varieties). It originates from Mexico where it was first used by the Aztecs as an offering to the gods and to flavor the beverage cacao (chocolate). The drink was called ‘xoclatl’ or ‘hot chocolate’ and was made from ground cocoa, steeped with vanilla and sweetened with honey. Mexico remained the sole producer of vanilla for 350 years following the Spaniard invasion of the country in 1500AD. The Spaniards, by the explorer Cortez, introduced vanilla to Europe between 1510 and 1520, however, it was not successfully cultivated until 1890. Since 1602 it has been enjoyed as a flavor by itself. Today, vanilla beans are grown in four main regions of the world, each produces vanilla beans with distinctive characteristics and attributes.
 
This bean pod shaped spice is about 5 inches long and dark brown when dried. Interestingly enough, the fruit itself is green in color and does not have any taste or aromatic properties until it is dried in the sun, cured and aged.

faqs vanilla-farming

For use in the kitchen, vanilla can be used in pod form, paste, powder or as a bottled liquid called pure vanilla extract.


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 Why use vanilla?

Vanilla is everywhere. It's essential to custard, crème caramel and peach Melba; it makes chocolate taste less flat. It is used in more than half of commercially prepared desserts, and many savoury dishes too, from marinades to sauces to cooked vegetables. It balances acidity in sauces, sweetens side dishes, and complements proteins. Add a teaspoon of vanilla extract to tomato sauce or chili to help cut the acidity of the tomatoes; It's key to Irish Cream liqueurs, Crème de Cacao, Galliano and a host of vanilla-infused vodkas.

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Anyone who has used vanilla in cooking knows that a little bit goes a long way. Popular in pastries and baked goods, it can also be a great compliment to fruits, seafood and meats.

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 How is vanilla grown, harvested and processed?

Vanilla is the most labor intensive agricultural crop, and can take many years after the beans are harvested to be processed into what we commonly see as vanilla. First, the vanilla vine takes three to four years to grow and fully mature, then it will bloom, but only for a few hours within one day in a year, and not at the same time at that, so you better watch each flower carefully. If a flower opens, it will then be hand pollinated and then produce a long fruit that is bean like which takes 9 months to ripen. The ripe pods will be picked and will require a labor intensive 3-6 month curing process, after which they develop their distinctive aroma and flavor. About 5 kilos of harvested pods produce only 1 kilo.

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 What are the best vanilla beans?

There is a tendency to profile vanilla from certain countries – Madagascar, Tahiti, Mexico, PNG etc. These all have different aromas and flavors, but we sell both species of vanilla from Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, the island of Madagascar and French Polynesia to give you, our most valued client, many choices to fulfill your vanilla needs. From our experience and expertise, vanillas from these countries are among the best in the world!

When it comes to your budget, our vanilla is unquestionably the very best value!

Imagine beans being like fine wine. It really comes down to your own taste and the intended use. Bourbon beans meet certain needs that Tahitian beans do not fulfill and vice versa. As for the aroma and flavor – you are the judge - if you like the flavor, it’s a good bean! Try experimenting with different types of vanillas or buy from your trusted & credible brand The Vanilla Company. 

Our vanilla beans are hand-harvested at peak ripeness & properly cured to develop its full flavor & fragrance. This allows us to provide our customers with one of the LONGEST, PLUMPEST & the HIGHEST QUALITY vanilla beans with peak “caviar” amounts, at the best price-point possible for our clients.

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For the finest vanillas, trust only this logo.

The Vanilla Company strive to provide the best service and prices possible with regards to customer satisfaction, fine quality vanillas & vanilla excellence.


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 Do all beans have the same flavor?

No. There are varying factors that affect the flavor of a vanilla bean. The first depends on the species, Planifolia (Bourbon) or Tahitensis (Tahitian). The second is the country of origin of the vanilla, and even the specific terroir or altitude where it's grown. The third is the maturity and ripeness of the beans when picked. The fourth is how the beans are cured. For pure vanilla extract, the extraction method used will also influence the final flavor profile. Just like afine wine, vanilla also has its unique flavor profile.

We often find that combinations of Bourbon & Tahitian beans or pure extracts create optimum vanilla flavor!

We in The Vanilla Company sell beans from our own organically controlled plantations in Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, the island of Madagascar and French Polynesia which we believe to be the best in the world! We offer two (2) of the most coveted & in high-demand vanilla varieties worldwide, the Bourbon Vanilla & the Tahitian Vanilla, so that you –our valued customer– could have the best of both worlds!


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 Are there different types of vanilla?

Among several species of the vanilla orchid, there are only two edible fruit-bearing kinds: The Vanilla Planifolia (Bourbon) and Vanilla Tahitensis (Tahitian). The aroma and flavor between the two are completely different and they may be used for different purposes.

Bourbon vanillas have the familiar vanillin flavor that we associate with vanilla ice cream and other vanilla flavored desserts and beverages. They are rich in natural vanillin & smooth, rich & mellow flavor accented with a long sweet, vanilla-aroma finish. Use Bourbon vanilla in baked goods, ice cream and anything where a traditional vanilla flavor is desired. In the 1800s, the French developed large plantations on Reunion Island, known at the time as the Isle de Bourbon, hence the name Bourbon. Although Bourbon vanilla extract contains alcohol, it is not made from Bourbon whiskey.

Tahitian beans provide a stronger aroma & instant vanilla flavor burst - they are flowery, fruity, anisic & bold with a smooth flavor. The texture of its caviar is very interesting; it is extremely gooey, stringy and moist but at the same time does not stick well to other clumps of caviar.

The Vanilla Company offers both Bourbon & Tahitian varieties. Available in leading delis nationwide and for immediate/regular delivery to our commercial customers.


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 What is vanilla “caviar”?

“Caviar” is what gourmands call the thousands of tiny black vanilla seeds inside the vanilla bean or pod. 


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 Are Bourbon beans from Bourbon Island and Tahitian beans from Tahiti?

They may, but ‘Bourbon’ and ‘Tahitian’ are the generic or common names of the species with the biological names: Vanilla Planifolia and Vanilla Tahitensis. These species are grown in many countries around the world and both species are grown in Papua New Guinea - where we grow our Gourmet Line of beans, the Island of Madagascar off the coast of Africa - where we grow our Silver Label Madagascar beans, and in the terroirs of Tahiti where we grow our Gold Label Tahitian beans.

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 Do Bourbon beans contain alcohol?

No, this is a common misconception that confuses Bourbon vanilla with Bourbon Whiskey brewed from corn in Kentucky, USA. In the case of vanilla, the term ‘Bourbon’ relates to Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean where vanilla was developed in the 1800’s. Bourbon was the name of the French family that ruled Reunion Island at this time. Although there is no alcohol in a Bourbon Vanilla Bean there may certainly be an alcohol content in some vanilla extracts.


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 Why are the Gold Label Tahitian beans more expensive?

Our Gold Label 100% Tahitian vanilla beans are only grown organically in the red earth of French Polynesia, these are the finest vanilla money could buy. These beans are individually calibrated from tons of Tahitian vanilla beans and only the longest and plumpest were selected. The curing process is also very important to bringing out the best flavor and aroma from the beans.

Truly out-of-this-world, the quality of our Gold Label 100% Tahitian vanilla beans speak for itself. Our plantations have won several competitions in Tahiti and in France. These are exactly the same beans, from the very vine, used by most three-star Michelin chefs the world over!

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 What are the different lengths of vanilla beans and which are better?

Vanilla Beans generally grow from 5” (12,5cm) to over 8” (20cm). Longer beans have a larger percentage of ‘caviar’ inside the pod, but beans of any length can be of equal quality depending on the type of vanilla bean, curing process and its soil of origin.

We in The Vanilla Company sell beans from our own organically controlled plantations in Papua New Guinea, the island of Madagascar and French Polynesia which we believe are the best in the world!

All our vanilla beans are available for immediate & regular delivery. Be it for personal use or commercial/bulk quantities.


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 How does the moisture content or color affect the quality of a bean?

Although Vanilla beans should be moist, they should not contain too much moisture – from 18% to 35% is a good range. Beans range in color from deep red to brown to black conducive to this moisture content. A certain color does not necessarily mean it is of better quality than a bean of another color.



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 How to choose the right vanilla bean?

When selecting vanilla beans, choose plump beans to get the most caviar possible. Pods should be deep brown color, oily to the touch, and pliable enough that if you bend the bean it will not crack or split.


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 Extract, Beans, Powder or Paste: which should I use?

Pure Vanilla Extract (the most common way used in the US) is ready-made and very easy to use, while using whole Vanilla Beans (preferred in European countries) takes a little more effort but avoids the alcohol found in extracts and allows the person eating to actually see the small vanilla "caviar". So it really boils down to your personal need and preference.

Combination of both Vanilla Bean and Pure Vanilla Extract will give you a much intense vanilla experience.

Our pure vanilla extract are different than most vanilla extract on the market. They are organic, cold processed, contain no fillers, no chemicals, no artificial color or any other additive.

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 Should vanilla beans be stored in the fridge or freezer?

No. It will dry up your precious vanilla bean. Vanilla should be stored at room temperature in a cool dark place.

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 How should I store my Vanilla? How long will it last?

You should saran wrap, vacuum seal or wrap your beans in aluminium foil when you store them. Take out as much air as you can so the beans will retain its moisture and aroma. Keep it in a cool, dark place. Stored this way our vanilla beans and extract will last years! The beans should be checked every few months for any sign of mold. If found on the surface, simply wash it off then pat dry with paper towel, or wipe it with alcohol, and re-store the beans. However if the mold gets inside the beans, you probably don’t want to use the beans.

faqs vanillin-crystals

If you find white crystals (sugar or powder like) on the beans this is not mold, these are precious flavorful vanillin seeping out from inside the bean. Enjoy your find of pure vanillin crystals! The crystals will appear on the surface only.

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faqs vanillin-crystals2

The Vanilla Company's vanilla beans are packaged vacuum sealed to retain its freshness for you our valued customer.

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 My beans seem to have an unfamiliar aroma...

Firstly, if the vanilla has been kept sealed or vacuum packed for some time, it is necessary for the bean to ‘open up’ and allow the natural aroma to evolve. Secondly, Tahitian vanilla has a different aroma profile from the more familiar Bourbon bean – this causes the most confusion. Even beans from different countries and areas will have a different aroma and flavor.


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 How do I cook with a vanilla bean?

To cook with a vanilla bean, lay it on a cutting board and slit it lengthwise with a knife or cut it down the center lengthwise with a pair of scissors. This will open up the pod so the moist seeds, often called the “caviar” of the bean can season the dish you are cooking. In vanilla bean ice cream you see these little specks which are the seeds.

faqs caviar

Vanilla is used not only in pastries, desserts and baked goods, but is also excellent with seafood. Add it in your barbeque sauce and it will enhance the flavor of your barbeque to the next delicious level. For a change of pace, add vanilla seeds to cottage cheese, yoghurt or just add it in your favorite brand of milk and let stand overnight for an added boost in flavor!

If the beans harden, you can soften them by dropping into the liquid of your recipe until softened. Cutting into a hard bean can cause the knife to slip and result in potential injury. Do not discard the pod, as it is just as usable as the seeds. When used in sauces and such, add to the mixtures after they have briefly cooled in order to preserve flavor. You can use the vanilla bean over and over again until the flavor is exhausted. Simply wash it off and let it dry and store for reuse.

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PURE VANILLA EXTRACT 


 Does pure vanilla extract contain alcohol?

Most extracts are made with alcohol, but some are not. In order to be sure, always check the ingredients label. Vanilla extract containing alcohol is generally used in the preparation of food and related products at a very low combined concentration level and the alcohol usually volatizes during preparation. Therefore, it is highly unlikely, if not impossible, that its alcohol content will have any adverse effect on persons consuming food products that use this type of extract. If the food preparation involves heating, baking or cooking, then the alcohol will quickly evaporate. However, care should be taken not to ingest quantities of pure alcohol-based vanilla extract directly from its original container.

Always store this product in a safe, secure environment away from children. When used in food preparation, it should be entirely safe. If you have any objections to consuming an alcohol-based product or if your guests are sensitive to alcohol, we recommend that you use our alcohol-free Gold Label 100% Tahiti Pure Vanilla Extract 4-fold.

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 Can I use pure vanilla extract for baking?

Yes. When used in baking or introduced to high heat (300°F or 150°C ++) the alcohol will evaporate, but the flavor component will remain. For your Halal and alcohol-free requirements, use our Gold Label 100% Tahitian 4-fold Pure Vanilla Extract and our Pure Vanilla Powder Extract 5-fold.

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 How do I make vanilla extract?

We could go with the USFDA requirement and use about 0.8 oz beans per cup of extract, but this probably wouldn’t be strong enough. Industrial vanilla extractors are orders of magnitude more efficient than our hand extraction process. We need to add more beans to get anywhere near extract concentration. We recommend a minimum of 1 oz (8 beans) per cup, but shoot for more. Remember, with vanilla, it can’t be too strong.

The Vanilla Company™ vanilla beans were the obvious choice in making pure vanilla extract because of its large size & caviar content and flavorful aroma.

faqs make-extract

Homemade Pure Vanilla Extract

INGREDIENTS:



*1 cup good Vodka (don't buy the cheap kind for best - near industrial quality - results)

*8 pcs. The Vanilla Company’s™ Gourmet Bourbon, Gourmet Tahitian or Gold Label Tahitian vanilla beans

*1 Bottle



DIRECTIONS:



*Split the beans with a sharp knife and scrape out the tiny seeds & gooey content.

*Chop pods into half inch pieces (do not grind in food processor, it will make a cloudy extract).

*Place good Vodka, scraped seeds and chopped pods in an airtight glass container.

*Store in a cool place for at least 6 months to 1 year to allow the cold extraction to take place.

*Shake the bottle at least twice a week for the first couple of months.

*After 2 months (the longer it steeps the stronger vanilla flavor it gets), strain and use with or without the seeds/caviar as your recipe defines.

Pure vanilla extract keeps indefinitely and like fine wine, pure vanilla extract gets better with age when stored properly!

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 What does a ‘fold’ mean when buying vanilla extract?

Single-fold or 1X is the concentration level set by the United States Food & Drug Administration (USFDA) for Pure Vanilla Extract that contains the extractive matter of 100g of vanilla beans per 1 liter of 35% alcohol. Two-fold extract uses twice as many beans or 200g in the same quantity of aqueous ethyl alcohol making it twice as strong. Three and Four-fold is three and four times the concentration of single-fold extract.

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The Vanilla Company’s™ Pure Vanilla Extract is made using prepared top quality Bourbon/Tahitian vanillas that have been long-term cold processed without any sugar, artificial colors, stabilizers, corn syrup or caramel thus preserving its purest form & full flavor. Using proprietary & exclusive cold process method, designed to extract every ounce of flavor & nutrition in the vanilla bean, producing a rich & delicious flavour that is unsurpassed.

Our Pure Vanilla Extract are available in 4 strengths:

  • Gourmet Bourbon/Tahitian single-fold (30ml, P250)
  • Gourmet Bourbon/Tahitian double-fold (30ml, P400)
  • Gold Label 100% Tahitian four-fold (30ml, P750)
  • 30-fold Premium Bourbon (30ml, P750)

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 Can natural vanilla extract be a clear, colorless solution?

No. This can only be achieved by using artificial ingredients such as combining propylene glycol or glycerin with artificial vanillin, which makes clear vanilla extract (a chemical concoction). Why use artificial ingredients when you can have the real thing? And if you use the real thing, why not ensure that it is organically grown? The Vanilla Company sells only organic vanilla products.


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 What is Imitation Vanilla Extract or Artificial Vanillin?

If you’re wondering why you have a cheap one in your kitchen (also called “vanilla flavoring”), they are most probably the “cheap imitation vanillas” whose mixture is often made from synthetic chemicals, eugenol, coal tar and waste paper pulp that are chemically treated to mimic the “vanilla flavor”. Some imitation vanilla extracts also contain Coumarin. Coumarin is used as a blood-thinner and pest poison. It is also known to cause liver and kidney damage in high concentrations of particularly sensitive individuals, so buyers beware. In a nutshell, if the bottle doesn’t say “Pure Vanilla Extract”, then you aren’t getting real vanilla.

Vanillin is only one of 300 hundred plus flavoring compounds that have been identified in natural vanilla, which is why synthetic vanilla is only an approximation of the natural bean, with none of its subtleties. In foods where vanilla is a key element — ice cream, for example — the difference is obvious. Even when vanilla is only one of many ingredients, some, to their credit, insist on the real thing — the Coca-Cola Company®, for example, which is the world's largest consumer of vanilla extract. It’s Coke’s “secret recipe” perhaps?!.

Summary – avoid artificial vanillin – buy real certified organic beans and extract made from organically grown beans. We grow our vanilla beans from our certified and organically controlled plantations in Papua New Guinea, Madagascar and French Polynesia.

So if you want to stay away from additives and harmful preservatives, choose your vanilla wisely. Go for pure, healthy, and 100% authentic vanilla.


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