Just about everyone is familiar with the delicious taste of vanilla, but few of us have had hands-on experience with its source, the vanilla bean.
In fact, the spice vanilla is technically derived from a fruit – it’s a product of the vanilla orchid, which grows in lush tropical and sub-tropical climates. If someone handed you a pile of fresh raw vanilla fruits, would you know how to prepare them for a recipe? Read on to find out how, and why, whole bean vanilla can make the trip from farm to table.
As with all fruits and vegetables, the fresher the produce, the more benefits you’ll receive from consuming it. Vanilla is no exception. Fresh, pure vanilla multiplies the already great qualities of the world’s favorite spice.
Full flavor. Make sure your recipes are supercharged with the rich, whole bean flavor that comes from freshly prepared vanilla beans. As you work more with vanilla in a variety of different recipes, you will begin to be able to tell the difference between fresh vanilla flavor and the old-fashioned vanillas we all know from candy shops and ice cream trucks. Often, those flavors were created in a lab with chemical simulations. There is no substitute for fresh vanilla.
Sensational aroma. Use fresh vanilla to add an intoxicating scent to everything from hot drinks, sweet and savory dishes, air fresheners, and even personal products like skin lotion. The smell of vanilla alone has tremendous soothing and mood-lifting effects – there are few things as nice as entering a home full of an all-natural fresh vanilla scent.
Loaded with nutrients. Fresh beans are jam-packed with a host of essential vitamins and minerals which promote overall health and happiness. Vanilla is well-documented as an anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial powerhouse that also delivers potent stress relief. Maximize the health benefits of vanilla by eating it as fresh from the vine as possible.
Don’t be intimidated by the unusual looking vanilla bean pod. This long, stringy fruit with raisin-like ridges should be somewhat soft to the touch. Hold it up to your nose and smell it – the rich, delightful aroma of vanilla should be strong and pleasant. When in doubt about selecting vanilla stalks, use the “nose test” – let your body naturally tell you which fruits to grab by which are most pleasing to your senses. This handy skill is built into every one of us and is generally a great barometer for choosing fresh food. Now we’re ready to open one up:
1. Lay out the long bean pods one at a time on your cutting board.
2. Hold down one end of the pod with your hand, and use a small paring knife to firmly cut a line down the center, cutting all the way along the long length of the pod to separate it into two halves.
3. Use the edge of the knife to gently scrape out the moist seeds and place them in a small container. These should have a slightly oily consistency, and are perfect to mix into dough, jams, or sauces.
4. Throw the long husks into a food processor and chop them into a fine powder. Some recipes call for just the seeds, while others use the entirety of the bean.
5. For decorative use, you might want to keep the long pods intact and let them dry out over a few days. They also make excellent garnish for a wide range of hot and cold beverages!
Get Your Fresh Vanilla Bean At The Source – The Hawaiian Vanilla Company
Most local markets do not carry fresh, whole vanilla pods. When you are ready to experience the delicious power of real vanilla, come to one of the best vanilla growers in the world. At the Hawaiian Vanilla Company, the cultivation of the purest, highest quality fresh vanilla is a science and an art form. This family-run commercial vanilla farm is the very first of its kind in the U.S.
With patience, love, and an incredible respect for the bean, the Hawaiian Vanilla Co. has built a vanilla bean harvest that rivals traditional growers in Mexico. From the lush and gorgeous landscape of the Big Island of Hawaii comes vanilla with spectacular flavor and unparalleled purity.
Browse the Hawaiian Vanilla Company’s complete line of vanilla-infused products, both culinary and body. But make sure you try the signature item on any vanilla farm – a whole, fresh vanilla bean (More News)! Order either one or three Beans In A Bottle – the ultimate way to add fresh vanilla to your home and cooking. You can even use the beans for sweet and savory recipes, to make your own sweet-smelling decorations, or to create your own homemade vanilla extract. Once your beans arrive, slice them open and let the fun begin!