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What origin to choose?

  • Bourbon Vanilla

    Origin: Reunion Island, Madagascar (East Coast, mainly Sambava), Comoros Islands, Nossi Be, Seychelles (Vanilla from the Indian Ocean is called Bourbon vanilla).

    Black, oily, and supple with a delicate floral aroma developing strong warm cocoa notes. The reference vanilla.
    It is also the most commonly used vanilla in the world. Pods measure 12 - 20/22 cm with a width of 3 - 8 mm for an average weight of between 3 and 5 g.
    Recommended Uses: baking, ice cream, desserts, tea (infusion of cuts), white meat, and fish.

    Our opinion: It remains the essential and preferred vanilla reference although sometimes to its detriment (too many dry pods sold in bulk in supermarkets!). Significant differences in flavour between  Madagascar and Comores. Production was down for the year 2013 (-30%) raising prices. The production shortfall is due to late flowering, excessive rains, and continued strong global demand.  There was also a low proportion of long pods.

  • Tahiti Vanilla

    Origin : Tahiti. French Polynesia.

    Pods are not split, fleshy, thick, and oily with a glossy dark brown colour. Size: 13-22 cm. Average weight: 5g for the shorter pods and 12/15 g for the longer pods.
    The aroma is delicate, warm, and sweet with notes of gingerbread and prunes. The most singular of vanillas by its appearance and unique aroma. For gourmets.
    Powerful flavour, it actually has fruity notes of prunes (typical in Tahiti vanilla).
    Recommended Uses : baking, ice cream, alcohol (macerated in rum), fruit salad, and fish.

    Our opinion : Although it is more expensive to buy than its counterparts it is nevertheless more economical to use (one Tahiti pod can represent the equivalent of two Madagascar pods). Production between 15 and 20 tonnes.

  • Mexico Vanilla

    Origin : Historic birthplace of vanilla, it is exclusively produced in that country.

    Thin, black quality, glossy light brown vanilla pods. Relatively flat pods that are a little less fleshy than its junior from Madagascar ... but with a wider aromatic palette.
    Notes are strongly chocolaty, warm and powerful yet subtle, persistent, and spicy in the background. This vanilla has the most diverse and subtle flavours.
    Like Tahiti vanilla, it is a vanilla for discerning gourmets.
    It has a lightly spicy chocolate flavour, developing base notes of red fruits. Average pod weight between 3 & 6 g.
    Recommended Uses: baking, ice cream, desserts, and hot dishes.

    Our opinion: limited distribution in Europe, it is a very rare vanilla here. Import and consumption monopoly held by its American neighbour. Production: 50 tonnes +/- 5%. Sharp increase over 2012/2013/2014.

  • New Guinea vanilla

    Origin : New Guinea indifferently cultivates Tahitensis and Planifolia. Production merges with its Indonesian neighbour.

    New Guinea vanilla is not split, supple, and fleshy. The presence of natural vanillin crystals, called givre or hoarfrost, on the pods is common.
    Aromas are woody on the attack developing spicier peppery or tobacco background notes. Roasted nut flavour. Average weight: 4 - 6 g depending on the size of the pod.
    Recommended uses : baking, ice creams, all desserts (fruit salad, fruit purées).

    Our opinion : Until recently this vanilla was sold under the very general name of "Caribbean vanilla" or "Tropical vanilla" (probably due to the lack of image as it does not have the same renown as Madagascar vanilla) and although rarely identified by its origin, it is still an excellent value for money vanilla.  One of our favourites as its quality is constant. Good pod ageing over time (it dries out slower than its counterparts). Production cumulated with its Indonesian neighbour is estimated at only a few tonnes for 2012/2013. From commonplace a few years ago, its production is now limited. The excessively low prices offered to producers have depleted the production of this excellent vanilla.

  • Indian Vanilla

    Origin : India

    A vanilla with chocolaty and woody notes with more floral notes in some pods. The pod is thin and black. The flavour is frank, delicate, and liquoricey.

    Recommended uses : fish, white meat, fruit purées, and fruit salad.

    Our opinion: A vanilla with the same commercial profile as New Guinea and Uganda vanilla .... It is rarely sold under its true geographical identity. It is similar to Bourbon vanilla but more full-bodied and cheaper. Production of 200 - 500 tonnes up to a few years ago but has dropped sharply since 2011.

  • Martinique Guadeloupe Vanilla


    Photo: Vanilla Pompona from Guadeloupe is also known as vanillon or banana vanilla (due to its shape).  It has a lower vanillin content (major component of the flavour) but develops an incomparable aromatic palette. It is defined by very pronounced liquorice, coumarin, and fresh tobacco leaf notes with buttery and floral flavour in the background. This vanilla is grown in the northern region of Basse-Terre under the canopy of the tropical forest in a soil rich in organic matter.

    Pod width: over 1.5 cm.

    Pod Length: 7 - 15 cm.

    Use :
    Macaroons, fruit salads, puddings.
    Exquisite with game and when used in low temperature cooking.

    Our opinion:  Martinique, Guadeloupe, Guyana, Difficult to find pods that have actually been grown here as the pods marketed are not necessarily locally grown.   Local production is really very low, which is a shame as it has amazing potential in the image of Tahiti vanilla which has found opportunities for a rare and premium product.

  • Généralités

    The presence of hoarfrost or givre (absent in Tahiti vanilla) is another sign of its quality as this is the formation of vanillin crystals on the outside of the pod. These crystals should not be removed as it would deprive the vanilla of some of its aroma. The use of the entire pod is also recommended as its aromatic properties are not limited to the black seeds inside but extend to the entire pod (epicarp included).

    Growing conditions climatic parameters, curing methods, and harvesting period, vanilla is a natural product that can show significant differences between vanillas of the same origin. In all cases, check the geographical origin of your pods to avoid buying a standard origin instead of and at the price of a more prestigious origin.

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