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How to buy vanilla

  • Aroma

    Fleur de Vanille

    Aroma cannot be qualitatively measured and its appreciation is very subjective as it is subject to individual tastes. However, good quality vanilla should not have an odour of fermentation, creosote, or alcohol. Vanilla should have an immediately identifiable intense aroma of vanilla with other more subtle secondary notes identified depending on the origin and species (prune, chocolate).

    AN IMMEDIATE AND INTENSE AROMA OF VANILLA

  • Appearance
    Une vanille marquée par sa préparatrice
     
    The colour of the vanilla pod is ultimately not very important as the origin, species, and curing methods vary this parameter. However, the colour generally varies between light and dark brown (more or less chocolate colour).

    Visually, the vanilla should not present any major defects (except tattoos by labourers which are easily identifiable) such as traces of mould, marks covering too much of the pod, and scars. Colour should be uniform.

    Optimal pod curing gives supple, full, and oily (not excessive) to the touch vanilla. It should be glossy without being shiny and should not be dull which can be an indication that the pods have been stored in alcohol (as this is a solvent, this would extract the essence and deprive you of some of the aroma).

    A pod which is too dry or brittle revealing thin reddish filaments indicates a poorly cured or conditioned vanilla or fruit harvested before maturity or even vanilla close to its expiry date ..... and therefore potentially with lower vanillin content.
    FLEXIBILITY AND TEXTURE OF THE VANILLA PODS ARE GOOD QUALITY INDICATORS
  • Length

    Mesure de la vanille

    At first glance, it might seem trivial to talk about the length of the pods. However, at an equal level of quality, the longer the vanilla pod, the more it is worth as a 16 cm pod logically contains more vanilla than a 14 cm pod.

    The interest for the consumer is to buy 16, 18, or 20 cm pods that can easily be cut in 2 or 3. Supermarkets generally do not sell vanilla pods over 16 cm and even 14 or 12 cm pods can be hard to find !

     LENGTH IS FLAVOUR

  • What origin to choose?

    Gousses

    With nearly 70% of world production, Madagascar has long been the top vanilla producing country.  Today the emergence of new producing countries should benefit us as consumers.

    New Guinea, India, and Uganda all have high production potential and expertise that rivals that of Madagascar. Vanilla from these countries, which do not have the same reputation as that of Madagascar vanilla, are very interesting value for money alternatives. Mexico (birthplace of vanilla) or Tahiti, countries with a lower but premium vanilla production.
    BE ORIGINAL, TRY OTHER ORIGINS
  • Type of packaging

    Conditionnement

    Glass tube:
    Despite the advantage of a more refined presentation, it keeps vanilla fresh which, if left in the open air, tends to dry out quickly. Do not use corks which, although aesthetic, promote the development of mould.

    Plastic packaging:
    Although this is more economical, it has the disadvantage of letting the aromas escape and drying out the vanilla. For regular consumers only... or put into an air-tight container as soon as you get it home

    STORE IN A GLASS TUBE TO KEEP IT FRESH

  • Conclusion

    Although you do not need to put vanilla in your flan, admit that it does add a missing touch of exoticism to it. Marginal in the total cost of a recipe, choosing not to use it is no longer justified ..... variety of origins, rich vanilla aromas ...... vanilla is now for all tastes and all sauces, even savoury ones with fish. Bold cooking is permitted!


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