Gathering Place vanilla beans are fresh, fragrant and rich in flavour. Vanilla planifolia is the only orchid in the world that produces an edible fruit. Our beans are grown, hand harvested and cured in small batches at a farmers cooperative in Southern India. The vanilla is then shipped direct to us, ensuring the farmers are paid a fair wage. The vanilla vines climb up coconut trees, and are often alternated tree for tree with black pepper. It thrives in the moist, partially sunny and hot environment.
Vanilla beans are the second most expensive spice because of the labor intensive pollination and harvesting process. One vanilla bean can grow from each flower. The vanilla flowers last no more than a day, so the vines must be continually monitored and pollinated. Once pollinated the vanilla flower will wilt and die within hours, and in a few days the vanilla bean will begin to grow in it’s place. Even after the plants have produced their pods, they must be checked daily so that each pod is harvested at just the right time.
Gathering Place vanilla beans are grown organically without pesticides, herbicides, or synthetic chemicals. There may be white crystals on the inside or outside of your bean. This is just crystallized vanillin, the compound that gives vanilla beans their flavour.
To use a vanilla bean, cut it in half lengthwise with a sharp knife, and then scrape out the seeds inside. You can use these in your favourite recipes. If you’re not using the empty pod, place it in a jar of granulated sugar for a few weeks to make your own vanilla sugar, or lay the pods over halved pieces of fruit baked in the oven for a scrumptious dessert. You can also use the pods to make your own vanilla extract. Just chop them up, place in a mason jar and cover with vodka or brandy. Let it sit for 6 weeks, shaking occasionally. Strain and use in your favourite baking.