Wholesale Vanilla Bean In the USA
How ones grow and process vanilla bean?
Vanilla bean and its flower
We know vanilla under its scientific name “Planifolia”. Also called vanilla bean, this tropical orchid native to Mexico and very delicate grows in the form of vine. Vanilla belongs to the the only orchid that has edible fruit. We wholesale Vanilla Bean in the USA and in Canada
Vanilla needs a supporting plant acting as a shade tree. It grows in humid tropical areas undergrowth. Its fruits, called pods, produce a spice also called vanilla bean.
The world counts a hundred vanilla species. But, only two others are also used to produce the spice: vanilla Tahiti (Vanilla tahitensis) and vanilla (Vanilla pompona). Ones grow the other varieties for ornamental reasons.
Etymologically, the vanilla name derives from the Spanish vainilla itself from the Latin vagina. It gave the name vagina that means sheath, pod or holster, too.
Soft and unbranched, the vanilla vine develops by growth of the terminal bud. Then, it can reach more than ten meters in height. Thanks to the aerial roots located at the nodes of the leaves, ones can cut it easily.
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The leaves alternately range on each side of the stem. They looks flat and oval with pointed tips. About three times longer than they are wide and can measure up to fifteen centimeters. The stem and leaves colors green, fleshy, full of a transparent and irritating juice causing persistent burns and itching on the skin.
The vanilla flower
The flowers are grouped by eight or ten and form small bunches in the axils of the leaves. They only bloom a single day and rarely more than one mature flower at the same time. White, greenish or pale yellow, they have the classic structure of an orchid flower despite a fairly regular appearance. We wholesale Vanilla Bean In the USA
Important particularity, its pollination needs intervention of an external intermediary. Bees endemic of the Melipona genus naturally polinized vanilla in its region. Far from its original environment, manual pollination becomes needed .
The pollination transforms the ovary that acted as a peduncle (the stem at the base of the flower) into a pendulous pod 12 to 25 centimeters long. These green and odorless pods have a diameter of 7 to 10 millimeters and already contain thousands of tiny seeds. They are then released by bursting fruit at maturity. However, at full maturity, farmers harvest the green beans and undergo a special treatment.
Production of vanilla bean
The preparation of the vanilla takes place over a period of about six months. It requires a lot of patience, rigor and know-how, because it consists in promoting the development of the aroma and making the pod suitable for long-term preservation. Vanilla needs a tropical, humid and hot climate. It is usually grown in forests with trees as a support.
It can naturally reach up to 10 meters in height. To avoid having to climb too high during the harvest, guiding the vine so that it does not rise too high.
Outside its country of origin, the vanilla flower must be fertilized manually. This is a daily observation job for the grower as it only blooms for one day during a period of about 2 months.
It involves delicately cutting down the rostellum with a spine, then exerting a slight pressure on the flower so that the pollen sprinkles and fertilizes the female organs. The operation must be performed the same day of flowering on the most vigorous flowers of the ear. The flower blooms at sunrise and lasts only a few hours. The “marriage” must be done quickly in the morning. Accuracy and speed are required because there are hundreds of thousands of flowers in the plantation. We must marry the most flowers possible to obtain a good crop of pods. We wholesale Vanilla Bean in the USA and in Canada
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8 months after fertilization, the green pods are finally ready to be harvested.
It will take about 5 kilos of green vanilla to get 1 kilo of processed vanilla.
The first treatment of green vanilla is a short immersion of about 3 minutes in hot water at 62 degrees to stop any organic evolution.
Then the pods are draped in jute blankets to sweat and lose some of its moisture. After 1 to 2 days, this process causes a fermentation that gives the vanilla a brownish appearance.
The pods are then sun-dried for about 2 weeks to stop any fermentation process.
The pods thus obtained are then classified according to their quality and length.
Once classified, they are grouped into boots of the same length using a string of raffia. It is then coated in waxed paper and stored in hermetically sealed tin boxes.
The vanilla thus obtained is finally ready to be sold for our greatest happiness!
How to preserve vanilla bean?
Ideally, vanilla beans should be kept dry, protected from light and air. They do not support sudden temperature differences.
Avoid containers with closures in cork because cork promotes the development of mold on vanilla beans. Even if it’s very pretty, beware of those who sell vanilla in glass tubes closed by corks!
Here are some effective ways to keep your vanilla:
Under vacuum and away from light. This is the ideal but not the easiest to achieve, it requires a basic investment.
In a well closed iron box. Do not choose too big so that your vanilla is as little as possible in contact with too much air. If you have a lot of pods, combine them by squeezing them with a string of raffia to keep their moisture and flexibility as long as possible. We wholesale Vanilla Bean in the USA and in Canada
You can replace the iron box with a glass jar but do not forget to store it away from the light.
In a plastic package under freezing. Nevertheless, this technique very popular in restoration where the use of vanilla is important, stops the process of evolution of aromas.
Ideally too, and always in order to slow down the drying process, before putting the vanilla “in a box”, coat it with waxed paper. This paper is specially designed for the preservation of vanilla in producing countries. Upon request, some importers will gladly give you a gift. But in the absence of waxed paper, you can also use sulphide paper, which is the paper that is usually used to prevent a pie from sticking to its mold.
By following these basic guidelines, fresh vanilla pods can easily be stored for 8 months without losing any of their aroma. The pods can be kept for several years but gradually lose their moisture, aroma and flexibility until they become dry and brittle.
Last but not least, be careful not to confuse mold and crystallization! Indeed if the mold is a sign of poor quality or poor conservation, crystallization, also called “frost”, is instead the index of very good conservation. It is actually a crystalline exudate of natural vanillin appearing on the surface of the pod.
If you have any doubt, examine the pods under a light source: the light is reflected on the crystals but not on the mold!
Classifications and qualities
In order to choose the type of vanilla that will suit your use, it is important to know its different technical classifications, in order of quality.
It’s high-end vanilla with the highest moisture content. Rare, very fat and supple, black in color, slightly brownish in color, it has a very chocolaty scent and is easy to crack. A pod weighs from 3 to 5 grams and measures between 14 and 20 cm.
Ideal for gourmet cuisine and demanding gourmets.
> Brown or TK
It is a vanilla of high quality. It differs from black vanilla in its lower moisture content and its more brownish color, see reddish in some places. A pod weighs 2 to 4 grams and measures between 14 and 20 cm.
Beware, some unscrupulous sellers sometimes pass this vanilla for black vanilla given its strong physical resemblance. We wholesale Vanilla Bean in the USA and in Canada
Ideal for fine dining or other uses.
It is a vanilla of average quality. It differs from brown vanilla in its lower moisture content and its more reddish color. A pod weighs from 2 to 3 grams and measures between 14 and 20 cm.
Used in the United States, this vanilla however enjoys an excellent value for money.
It is vanilla naturally split on the liana at the moment when the pod reaches its full maturity. Not split, these pods would have been classified black or brown
They lost some of their seeds during ripening but apart from less decorative interest, their intrinsic qualities are preserved.
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They are vanilla mixed qualities and sizes less than 14 cm
Splitting becomes a tedious job because of its size. Thinner, it also has less proportion of seeds but its intrinsic qualities are preserved.
In fact, Bourbon does not refer to the quality but the origin of vanilla.
If it comes from Madagascar, Reunion or Comoros, vanilla then benefits from the Bourbon appellation. However, as its countries are all known to produce good vanilla, Bourbon is often confused as a sign of quality.
Frosted or crystallized:
Vanilla frosting is a sign of quality vanilla but contrary to many beliefs, its aroma does not come out improved. Any good quality vanilla can crystallize during its conservation, it is simply its natural vanillin that turns into crystals.
Beware: most vanilla “frosted” are obtained fraudulently by plunging them into an artificial vanillin bath. This well-known technique allows fraudsters to sell their vanilla of poor quality at a much higher price.
Properties of vanilla
Many properties are attributed to vanilla. Truths and sometimes legends, here are the main ones.
Against fatigue and insomnia
Vanilla is known as a stimulant of the nervous system and a general stimulant. It thus makes it possible to fight against intellectual fatigue as well as physical. Paradoxically, it is also recommended as a cure for insomnia.
In addition to its soothing and relaxing scent, vanilla is also antispasmodic, a good way to fight against stress.
Aperitif and facilitates digestion
Vanilla has appetitive and digestive properties: not only does it give you an appetite but it also facilitates digestion!
As well as chocolate, vanilla helps to protect you from small blows of depression.
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First of all, the world knows vanilla bean by its aphrodisiac properties. In some parts of Central America and South America, vanilla still remains as remedy to fight erection problems. The men macerate some vanilla pods in a bottle of tequila or other white liquor for almost a month. They claim that by taking 10 to 15 drops of this maceration each evening, they keep their shape! In the 18th century, a doctor would have seen an improvement in more than 150 patients helpless thanks to this remedy. We wholesale Vanilla Bean in the USA and in Canada
Then, its massive exploitation in perfumery is not trivial, too. Vanilla contains volatile essences that stimulate the senses.
In addition, vanilla extract would be a powerful antiseptic. Probably the reason why it is said to relieve venomous animal bites, too.
Used in cosmetics, vanilla would be restructuring, regenerating, purifying, moisturizing, nourishing and softening. Madagascar vanilla, for example, is at the heart of Chanel’s anti-aging formula.
We wholesale Vanilla Bean in the USA and in Canada : Use your vanilla bean well
You have found your vanilla pod and now you just have to use it. Do not panic, here’s how to go about it.
Cut your vanilla pod in 2 to extract the seeds
Bring a good knife and cut your vanilla pod in half lengthwise. Separate the pod in 2 and scrape the inside of this half-pod with the blade of your knife to extract the seeds.
With a little habit it goes very fast. Chose supple vanilla pods as it should be and follow it in one go holding the blade of the knife against his thumb. It’s a bit like when you twine the string with a pair of chisel to do a beautiful gift packaging …Buy from wholesale vanilla bean
The thousands of seeds thus obtained will now mix perfectly with your preparation.
You can also get the 2 half pods emptied, either to perfume your jar of sugar, or to incorporate in your recipes but in principle it is not eaten. In principle only because some manufacturers still recover them for the grinders in such small pieces that they are perfectly confused with the seeds!
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For your milk-based preparations
Let the seeds (and the rest of the pod) heat for about ten minutes in the milk without bringing it to a boil. The longer the seeds stay, the better the flavor will be.
Make your own vanilla extract
We obtain vanilla extract by maceration of the pods in the alcohol. You can easily get an extract much better than what you usually buy. It all depends on the quality of your pods you get from wholesale vanilla bean.
For 250 ml of vodka between 37 and 40 °, take about 100 grams of vanilla pods. The larger they are, the more natural vanillin they contain and the stronger the extract will be. Cut them in 2 to put the seeds, and add the rest of the cut pods in 3-4 for a better diffusion. Choose an opaque bottle or store it in the dark for about 6 months. Shake it from time to time, especially during the first week. After that, you can filter the extract with a fine strainer to remove the pods and seeds. The vanilla extract thus obtained can be preserved for decades and will improve as good wine. We wholesale Vanilla Bean in the USA and in Canada