Vanilla Pods From Tahiti - 1 pod details and description
Steenbergs Tahiti Vanilla is totally different from normal vanilla from Madagascar - firstly, this Tahiti vanilla is a different species of vanilla orchid, called Vanilla tahitensis as against the standard Vanilla planifolia; and secondly they insist on a higher moisture content than is standard for typical organic vanilla from India or Madagascar or Uganda so they look really juicy, moist and fat. These Tahitian vanilla pods look so gorgeously bountiful and full of flavour. The flavour of these Tahitian vanilla pods is full of smooth, luxurious and rich vanilla aromas and tastes, but they seem to have a more delicate flavour than standard Madagascan organic vanilla, while there is a hint of anise and loads of orchid floral delight coming through.
Vanilla comes from several species of orchid, including Vanilla tahitensis. Vanillais a tropical climbing orchid that has succulent 1-2cm (0.33-0.75cm) diameter stems and reaches 10-15m in length/height (30-50ft) by climging to host trees with long aerial roots when in the wild. In farmed situations, vanilla is grown along frames. Vanilla has large, flat tear-shaped leaves ranging from 8-25cm long (3-10 inches) and getting 2-8cm in width (0.75-3 inches). Vanilla bears a slightly fragrant, pale greenish flower that is yellow-lipped and averages around 8-10cm in diameter (4-10 inches). The bean like capsules that form after flowering are cylindrical and slightly curved, reaching 10-25cm in length (4-10 inches). Photos of vanilla vines growing can be found at: vanilla flower, vanilla beans and vanilla leaves.
The post-harvest processing is labour intensive and takes a long time. The tasteless green beans are laid in boxes and put into a boiling water or a wood-fired kiln to start the curing and drying process, during which the many volatile oils develop via natural enzymatic processes. After an initial boiling or about 24 hours in the kiln, the vanilla beans are spread out into the sun to absorb the heat, then at the end of the day, they are wrapped in blankets or straw mats and laid out to sweat on multi-tiered racks in a large shed or in the eaves of a family's house. The vanilla beans are processed like this each day for several weeks until the beans develop a deep brown colouration. Then the vanilla beans enter a 3 month conditioning period. Every few days, the vanilla beans are massaged either in a circular (for Madagascan vanilla) or lengthways mode (for Indian vanilla) to create a more flexible pods. As for saffron, the yields are relatively small with 5kg (11lb) of fresh green beans yielding about 1kg (2.2lb) of cured vanilla after 9 months of processing. For a photographic journey of the life of vanilla, see our blog and for more on vanilla visit Gernot Katzers Spice pages.
Organic Fairtrade Vanilla from Steenbergs is a sweet and pungent spice that has a particular affinity for dairy and milk dishes, but can also be used within poultry and pork seasonings very successfully, particularly where a sweet, sugar-based glaze is being used. Vanilla beans are classically used to flavour custards and ice creams, or poached fruits. More unusually, it works really well with chicken or pork dishes. For further inspiration, try the BBC website.
Steenbergs Tahitian vanilla is part of the Steenbergs range of over 400 organic spices, blends and seasonings, organic peppers, organic chilli, organic herbs, bakery ingredients and flavoured sugars. For your local stockist follow the link or call 01765 640 088 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.