Our Vanilla

If you are looking to buy vanilla pods in the UK, then we are here to supply them. Supplying to the catering and wholesale industry, our vanilla pods are ideal to use when baking cakes, making desserts and puddings or any culinary task that requires pure vanilla.

Here is a little run down of the wonderful varieties we currently supply.

Bourbon Madagascan Vanilla

The Classic Black Vanilla. Our pods come from Sambava. 38% Moisture, a high seed content and a wonderful rich and creamy flavour. These Vanilla beans are just delicious. Using these pods in any of your baking dishes, drinks and desserts adds that wonderful flavour that you expect from a Michelin star restaurant.

Papua New Guinea Tahitensis Vanilla

An up and coming variety of Vanilla, darker than the average pod.

Slightly shorter (12-14cm) but broader with a distinctive taste and flavour.

Floral aromas combined with cherry and oak which punch through delightfully in your recipes.

We use vanilla pods from both the Tahitensis and Planifolia orchids. The PNG vanilla beans are grown organically.

Tahitian Vanilla

Grown and then cured in Tahiti, Tahitian vanilla pods UK comprise a dark coloured oily pod with floral and fruity connotations. Extremely delicate, this vanilla has a hint of liquorice and is often used in cooking where heat is not needed, such as in ice-cream. The great perfume also makes Tahitian vanilla the perfect addition for many soaps and body lotions and creams.

Ugandan Planifolua Vanilla

Referred to as ‘green gold’ in the locality, these bourbon type pods come from the vanilla farms. The bouquet is both chocolatey and earthy and makes a unique extract.

The flavour of these pods work well with Chocolate and Ice Cream.

The Magic of Vanilla

“Vanilla” a term used to describe things as plain and ordinary, but we assure you that this fantastical spice is anything but that.

An Orchid native to Mexico and first used by the Mayans and the Aztecs thousands of years ago to flavour their precious “Xocolatl” drink. Vanilla was the flavour of royalty and warriors.

When the Spanish conquistadors arrived in the 16th Century and discovered this drink of the heavens, they inevitably brought it back to Europe. Of course they then tried countless ways to grow Vanilla at home and although vines blossomed, none bore fruit.

This was due to the absence of the Melipona Bee, native to South America and the only insect capable of pollinating the Orchid. Production of Vanilla outside its homeland was impossible, or so it seemed…….

Edmund The Great!

Introducing Mr Edmund Albius the 12 year old who created the practical process for the pollination of Vanilla. A feat that had beat Europeans for centuries after its discovery. He was an orphan born on the Island of Bourbon, now known as Reunion. A slave, he lived and worked on the estate of Fereol Bellier-Beaumont.

He spent most of his time following Beaumont around learning about flowers, vegetables and fruits and also a Vanilla vine that had been there for many years. French colonists had brought Vanilla to Reunion for production, but it was as with Europe, an alien to the insects of the island and henceforth pollination did not occur!

In 1841, while walking the grounds Beaumont was amazed to find his barren Vanilla vine suddenly bearing fruit! Edmond told him that he had pollinated the plant himself. Asking for a demonstration, Edmond showed how taking a thin stick or blade of grass and a thumb gesture, pollinated the Vanilla orchid! The Vanilla world was changed in that moment! Edmond travelled the island, teaching others his method. His technique spread to Seychelles, Mauritius and Madagascar, which currently produces 80% of the worlds Vanilla. It is down to Edmund that we are able to enjoy Vanilla and the magic of its flavour all over the world.

Edmond_Albius 1

A few facts about the vine

  • Vanilla is an Orchid
  • It is a hemiepiphyte (uses other plants for support)
  • Vanilla Vines can grow up to 20m long
  • Vanilla flowers are yellow an of trumpet shape.
  • They only flower for one day during a season!
vanilla photo masekd
Edmond_Albius 1

A few facts about the vine

  • Vanilla is an Orchid
  • It is a hemiepiphyte (uses other plants for support)
  • Vanilla Vines can grow up to 20m long
  • Vanilla flowers are yellow an of trumpet shape.
  • They only flower for one day during a season!
vanilla photo masekd

Main Types of Vanilla

In the culinary world there are really onely two main kinds of vanilla

Group 20

Vanilla Planifolia

The Classic Black Vanilla. Grown in the Indian Ocean, eg. Madagascar, Maurities, Seychelles, Comoros… The aromas and flavours are creamy and woody with a richness and subtle hint of spice. Coupled with its potency and the ease in which the flavours infuse has made it the most popular variety of Vanilla today.

Zazou Planifolia Vanilla: Madagascar, Bali, Uganda, Indian

Group 20

Vanilla Planifolia

The Classic Black Vanilla. Grown in the Indian Ocean, eg. Madagascar, Maurities, Seychelles, Comoros… The aromas and flavours are creamy and woody with a richness and subtle hint of spice. Coupled with its potency and the ease in which the flavours infuse has made it the most popular variety of Vanilla today.

Zazou Planifolia Vanilla: Madagascar, Bali, Uganda, Indian

Vanilla Tahitensis

The jury is still out on whether this Vanilla was created as a hybrid by the ancient people or via natural selection. However, it is a cross between Planifolia and Vanilla Odorata and occurred in Mayan Cacao Forests. Tahitensis is subtly sweet, floral and aniseedy. I delicateness of flavour is a huge hit with pastry chefs around the world.

Zazou Tahitensis Vanilla: Papua New Guinea, Tahitian, Indian Tahitensis.

The name “Bourbon” Vanilla was created to identify all vanilla that came from a region in Madagascar, formerly called Reunion. Today we know that if Vanilla is labelled “Bourbon” it is Madagascan.

Group 19

Vanilla Tahitensis

The jury is still out on whether this Vanilla was created as a hybrid by the ancient people or via natural selection. However, it is a cross between Planifolia and Vanilla Odorata and occurred in Mayan Cacao Forests. Tahitensis is subtly sweet, floral and aniseedy. I delicateness of flavour is a huge hit with pastry chefs around the world.

Zazou Tahitensis Vanilla: Papua New Guinea, Tahitian, Indian Tahitensis.

The name “Bourbon” Vanilla was created to identify all vanilla that came from a region in Madagascar, formerly called Reunion. Today we know that if Vanilla is labelled “Bourbon” it is Madagascan.

Group 19

Growing and harvesting vanilla

Madagascar Vanilla requires a high level of expertise and is separated into 6 Main Stages!

pollination

1
Pollination

September – December
The vines are flowering, farmers walk around the vines and plantations hand pollinating each ready flower quickly, because they won’t be there for long. Once pollinated, it’s then an 8-9 month growing process and making sure the vines are not getting stressed by sunlight or water and so the beans grow healthy and strong and fully ripen. Temperature and humidity change causes enzymes and starches to convert pectin to sugars. Chlorophyll breaks down and the fruit begins to yellow. The tell-tale sign of ripening. If beans are harvested before this process it interrupts the natural flavour developing and you’ll be left with a sour and bitter bean.

Rectangle 18

2
Harvest

June – September
Vanilla does not come off the vine in the state we know and love. Farmers harvest beautiful big green beans that have no taste or aroma. It takes 6kg of harvested green beans to create 1kg of cured, black Vanilla!

Rectangle 18 (1)

3
Killing

Immediately after harvesting
The big green beans are plunged into water heated to 60-65 degrees centigrade. Dipping or “Killing” as it is also known, stops growth and releases the enzymes that convert glucovanillin to vanillin, Vanillas primary flavour component.

Rectangle 18 (2)

4
Sweating

48hrs
The Beans are pulled from the water and put in wooden crates with a tight lid. Sometimes they can be wrapped straight away in woollen blankets, whatever method it is done as quick as possible to preserve heat and steam that again act as catalysts converting starches and cellulose to vanillin.

Rectangle 18 (3)

5
Drying

After sweating for 48hrs
It is time to dry the beans in the sun and shade and get them down to the correct moisture level so they can be transported without inducing Vanillas sworn enemy, mould! The Beans are laid out en masse in the open air. Moisture is driven out by moving them between sun and shade. This process has to be closely monitored as too much sun can destroy the vanillin content and create dry brittle sticks. Farmers will even massage each bean to make sure drying is occurring evenly. Gourmet Beans have a 30-40% moisture content.

Rectangle 18 (4)

6
Refining

Once the drying process is complete
The flavour compound still needs to develop. The beans are kept in wooden boxes and wrapped in wax paper for 4-5 months allowing the secondary aromas to mature.

Growing and harvesting vanilla

Madagascar Vanilla requires a high level of expertise and is separated into 6 Main Stages!

pollination

1- Pollination

September – December
The vines are flowering, farmers walk around the vines and plantations hand-pollinating each ready flower quickly, because they won’t be there for long. Once pollinated, it’s then an 8-9 month growing process and making sure the vines are not getting stressed by sunlight or water and so the beans grow healthy and strong and fully ripen. Temperature and humidity change causes enzymes and starches to convert pectin to sugars. Chlorophyll breaks down and the fruit begins to yellow. The tell-tale sign of ripening. If beans are harvested before this process it interrupts the natural flavour developing and you’ll be left with a sour and bitter bean.

Rectangle 18

2 - Harvest

June – September
Vanilla does not come off the vine in the state we know and love. Farmers harvest beautiful big green beans that have no taste or aroma. It takes 6kg of harvested green beans to create 1kg of cured, black Vanilla!

Rectangle 18 (1)

3 - Killing

Immediately after harvesting
The big green beans are plunged into water heated to 60-65 degrees centigrade. Dipping or “Killing” as it is also known, stops growth and releases the enzymes that convert glucovanillin to vanillin, Vanillas primary flavour component.

Rectangle 18 (2)

4 - Sweating

48hrs
The Beans are pulled from the water and put in wooden crates with a tight lid. Sometimes they can be wrapped straight away in woollen blankets, whatever method it is done as quick as possible to preserve heat and steam that again act as catalysts converting starches and cellulose to vanillin.

Rectangle 18 (3)

5 - Drying

After sweating for 48hrs
It is time to dry the beans in the sun and shade and get them down to the correct moisture level so they can be transported without inducing Vanillas sworn enemy, mould! The Beans are laid out en masse in the open air. Moisture is driven out by moving them between sun and shade. This process has to be closely monitored as too much sun can destroy the vanillin content and create dry brittle sticks. Farmers will even massage each bean to make sure drying is occurring evenly. Gourmet Beans have a 30-40% moisture content.

Rectangle 18 (4)

6 - Refining

Once the drying process is complete
The flavour compound still needs to develop. The beans are kept in wooden boxes and wrapped in wax paper for 4-5 months allowing the secondary aromas to mature.

The Vanilla is then sorted into sizes, packagges and shipped to all corners of the world.

What a process, what a journey!