How are Vanilla Beans Made
Vanilla beans are made from vanilla plants that grow up to 30 meters long. Vanilla plants are climbing plants, and usually climb up wooden trellises.
Vanilla bean plants have specific growing conditions that include having high humidity, warm temperatures, and indirect sunlight.
Vanilla plants flower periodically, and are only available for 24 hours to be pollinated. Farmers are actively watching their vanilla plants for any signs of flowering due to this short window of pollination.
Vanilla must be hand pollinated due to the unavailability of natural pollinators in these humid and warm environments. The pollinators needed for vanilla are only available in Mexico.
Once vanilla is pollinated, it can mature on the vine for up to 2 months. After the coloring of the vanilla bean pod is dark, it’s time to harvest the vanilla.
Vanilla goes through a processing of curing for the following 3 months. It involves drying out the pods and creating a high moisture environment. Gourmet vanilla beans have 30-35% moisture within them.
How is vanilla extract made
Vanilla extract is made by first cutting open the vanilla bean pods. The vanilla beans are placed into a jar and then it is filled with vodka.
The vodka is then infused with vanilla flavoring. It takes about 6-12 months to get a good flavoring of vanilla extract.
Every week the jar is shaken to release more flavor from the vanilla pod into the vodka creating vanilla extract.
How is imitation vanilla made
Imitation vanilla is made from a byproduct of a papermaking manufacturer. Wood contains “lignin” which is used to create vanillin synthetically. Lignin is chemically treated into making vanillin. Vanillin is the flavoring used in imitation vanilla.
Where does vanilla come from
Vanilla comes from mainly Madagascar (40%) and Indonesia (30%). The remaining 30% is produced by Mexico, Reunion Island, and Comoro Islands.
How do you use a vanilla bean instead of extract
To use a vanilla bean instead of vanilla extract, you’ll want to cut open the vanilla pod and scrape the seeds. The seeds can be placed directly into your recipe. If you’re wanting to infuse more vanilla into your wet ingredients or are making foods like custard or ice cream, you can place the whole vanilla pod into the recipe. Once the flavor has seeped out of the vanilla pod, you can remove the vanilla pod and continue on with your recipe.
How long is a vanilla bean
A vanilla bean is usually 10-15 cm in length. Gourmet vanilla beans are usually 6-8 inches long.
How many vanilla beans in a pod
There are thousands of vanilla beans in a single vanilla bean pod.