Vanilla Pods are one of the most exclusive spices in the world, primarily due to the extensive labour required to grow and process the Vanilla. It’s cultivation is a long and labour intensive process taking eight months, from when the farmer hand pollinates each flower, to when Vanilla Beans are ready for harvesting.
The plant that produces vanilla is from the orchid family and is a herbaceous vine that is perennial climber living in tropical areas where the temperature ranges between 21 to 30 degrees. Vanilla beans are picked while they are still green and have to be cured to create their distinct vanilla flavour and smell.
The vanilla pods are harvested as they ripen once their colour changes from dark green to light green with a yellow tinge. The pods then undergo several stages of processing including classification into length, scalding in hot water, curing in sweating boxes and sun drying before they are ready for packaging.
Once the vanilla has been scalded in hot water and transferred into a wooden box lined with a blanket for sweating, they will attain a light brown colour and start imparting aroma. At this point they will be spread in the sun for drying during the day and repacked into sweating boxes each night for a 14 day period.