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Vanilla Beans - Gourmet Indonesian - Organic

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MSRP: $17.78
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Gourmet Indonesian Organic Vanilla Beans Approx. 7g Tube

Approx. 7g
QAI Certified Organic
KSA Certified

It's hard to imagine a kitchen void of vanilla. Its full, rich, universally popular taste and enticing aroma is irreplaceable in cookies, cakes, custards, ice creams-- almost every conceivable sweet-- and a few savory dishes, too.

Remarkably aromatic, delightfully sensuous. Frontier invites you to steep yourself in the history, legend, science and culinary enchantment this exotic spice has inspired since it’s discovery.

What is Vanilla bean?
A tropical orchid with edible fruit, the vanilla plant climbs to a height of 80 feet. It has yellow or orange flowers that bloom one per day and eight-inch pods that look much like long, slender green beans. These pods contain the flavor we know as vanilla.

Vanilla beans are the long, greenish-yellow seedpods of the fragrant tropical vanilla orchid, which is grown commercially in Madagascar, Mexico, Indonesia, and Tahiti. Only two species-- Vanilla planifolia and Vanilla tahitensis (Tahitian vanilla)-- are cultivated for commercial use as a flavoring or fragrance.

Vanilla beans are an expensive spice, in part because of their labor-intensive cultivation and curing. Only Mexican bees and hummingbirds can pollinate the plants naturally, so it's done by hand, using a bamboo splinter. Once harvested, the golden-green beans are sun dried for about ten days (alternating between days in the sun and cooling "sweats" at night), during which the pods turn dark brown. Then they're slowly dried in the shade for up to two months. Sorted and graded, they're then conditioned another couple of months-- when all is said and done, it can take six months or more to get a vanilla bean ready for your kitchen!

History of Vanilla Bean
Vanilla was first cultivated by the Totonec people of Mexico. In the 15th century the Aztecs conquered the Totonec and required tribute in the form of vanilla beans. Later, the Spanish Conquistadors were indoctrinated into the joys of vanilla when they conquered the Aztecs. And they, in turn, introduced Vanilla to Europe.

It seems that vanilla was first enjoyed as a beverage flavoring. The Aztecs, who considered vanilla an aphrodisiac, enjoyed xocolati, a cocoa drink flavored with vanilla and honey. A vanilla-flavored cocoa drink was also shared between the Mexican Emperor Montezuma and Cortez, and both cocoa and vanilla immediately found their way to Spain, where they became very popular. Later, when the spice had made its way to England, Queen Elizabeth the I's chemist suggested using vanilla on its own to flavor foods.

How is Vanilla Bean grown?
Vanilla orchids are grown as a vine and hand-polinated. Seven to eight months after pollination the beans are harvested by hand and undergo a complicated curing process. The full cultivation story is truly remarkable, if you’ve got a minute.

Those small, raised bumps on some vanilla beans are pinpricks made in a pattern by growers in order to deter theft (a practice similar to branding livestock).

How to Buy Good Vanilla Beans
Premium quality vanilla beans have a rich, full aroma and are oily to the touch. They should be pliable enough to bend without breaking, and dark brown (almost black) in color.

How to Use Vanilla Beans
To use the bean, slice it lengthwise to expose the seeds (which contain most of the fragrance and flavor). Some recipes suggest scraping out the seeds, others direct you to use the whole slit pod. You can also grind the seed for use. To substitute whole beans for vanilla extract, use about one inch of the bean for each teaspoon of the extract. 

Universally popular in desserts-- cakes, cookies, puddings, candy, ice cream-- vanilla also adds rich flavor and aroma to many beverages (mulled cider, coffee, tea, lemonade, hot chocolate, warm milk). Try it in sauces, soufflés, and in shellfish, chicken, veal and dairy dishes.

Vanilla Bean Recipes
To find Vanilla Bean Recipes, use the ingredient finder on the Frontier website and put in "vanilla bean". Alternately, you can search for Vanilla Recipes if you've already made your extract or want to substitute fresh vanilla bean for extract.

How to Store Vanilla Beans
Vanilla beans will keep indefinitely if stored properly in an airtight container in a cool, dark place, or if they are vacuum-packed. While it's important to keep vanilla beans cool to avoid mildew, they should not be refrigerated or frozen, as this causes them to harden and lose flavor.

If your vanilla beans have dried out, simply add them to warm liquid to draw out the flavor. A dry bean pod added to a mug of hot chocolate or a cup of hot tea results in a delicious experience!

How to Make Vanilla Extract

Bourbon Vanilla Beans

If you're using high-quality Bourbon beans, you may notice after time that they have developed crystals (it often resembles white fur), an indicator that the beans are high in natural vanillin and of good quality. This is a natural process, and a delicious one, at that. Enjoy the crystals--they're full of flavor!

Bourban vanilla beans, which are grown in Madagascar are very aromatic with a full, rich taste, they have thick skins and many seeds. Mexican beans are similar to Bourbon but a bit spicier, with a woodier fragrance. Although Madagascar beans have the characteristic dark, mellow sweetness that most people recognize as vanilla, the Tahitian beans are slightly sweeter and more flowery tasting. They are popular with fine pastry chefs and vanilla connoiseurs.

Vanilla planifolia, the species of vanilla from either India, Indonesia, Mexico or Guatemala— as well "Bourbon" vanilla from the islands of Madagascar, Reunion and the Comoros, is the most common and easily found.

This species has a strong vanilla aroma, described as being rich, creamy, sweet and almost hay-like. These beans have a thicker skin, are longer than the Tahitian bean, and also contain more seeds.

Tahitian vanilla beans, grown in the South Pacific, are a different species of vanilla-- Vanilla tahitensis . These beans are shorter, plumper, moister and contain a higher oil content than Vanilla planifolia. Their strong aroma, described as being more fruity and floral, is especially prized by European gourmet cooks.

Where to Find Vanilla Beans
Phoenix Food and Herb offers a wide selection of high quality Bourbon and Tahitian vanilla beans, as well as vanilla powder, extracts and flavors.

Vanilla You Don’t Want to Use
One fraud to be especially aware of and avoid is vanilla (usually "bargain" priced) that has been adulterated with coumarin. Coumarin is derived from the tonka bean. Because it's cheap and some of its constituents are similar to those in pure vanilla, is often added to vanillas from Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. It adds a strong vanilla-like aroma but little flavor.

Coumarin is known to cause liver damage and is a potential carcinogen, and has been banned as a food ingredient by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States since 1954. Extract adulterated with coumarin still comes into this country, usually through Mexico where it is not illegal.

Imitation Vanilla
Pure vanilla is expensive. In order to make the product more affordable, imitation vanilla was developed. Imitation vanilla is made from artificial flavorings, the two most common sources of which are lignin vanillin, a by-product of the paper industry that is chemically treated to taste like vanilla, and ethyl vanillin, a coal-tar derivative.

Vanilla Flavor (WONF)
This flavor descriptor indicates that the product is made With Other Natural Flavors and means that the product contains other flavor ingredients, usually essential oils and botanical extracts. Any of these blended flavors won't, of course, have the taste profile of real vanilla and synthetic chemical carriers can sometimes be introduced. But even if the additions are natural, at best you have an inferior vanilla that is "boosted" with less expensive components.

By the way... You can use a vanilla bean more than once. Simply rinse and dry between uses. But don't store your vanilla beans in the refrigerator, because they may mold there; place it in a dry spot. A tasty option is to place your vanilla bean in a small container of sugar. The vanilla bean will lend its flavor and aroma to the sugar.

Frontier does not use any ingredients or carry any products that are irradiated under any of their brands (Frontier, Simply Organic, Aura Cacia).

Frontier, Simply Organic and Aura Cacia organic products are all certified by the leading third-party organic certifier Quality Assurance International.

Our bottled spices and blends are freshness dated - the date the product is best used by for maximum freshness is printed on the bottom of each bottle.

  • Model: 18283
  • Shipping Weight: 0.05 lbs
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