These whole bourbon vanilla beans from Madagascar are of the highest quality, with over 250 aromatic notes comprising the complex flavor profile of real vanilla. “Noire,” or black, vanilla beans have the highest quality rating, they are black or dark brown in color with an oily shine on the surface, and have a higher percentage of vanillin and moisture in the pod. Don’t be mislead by inferior vanilla products. Look for pure vanilla to be sure your ingredients have the real authentic complex vanilla flavors and not the simplified artificial substitutes so often used.
The most common variety of vanilla bean grown and cooked with is the Vanila Plantifolia, from Madagascar. It is more commonly known as Bourbon Vanilla, so named because of the collection of islands on which it is grown. It is known for its taste: sweet, with a rich milky creamy flavor, a buttery aroma, and low complex dark notes. The vanilla plant is part of the orchid flower family. Like wine, chocolate, and coffee, the growing conditions, or terrior, will affect the unique flavors of a particular harvest. During processing, the pods are slowly dried until moisture has been reduced to between 25% and 30% by weight. Then they are left to condition, stored in closed boxes for up to six months while the flavors develop. Once cured, high quality pods should have approximately 2.5% vanillin flavor content.
Vanilla was introduced to Europe in the 1520s. Vanilla beans are useful in cooking and baking. Both the pod and the seeds can be used. Pods can be cooked whole in a liquid to infuse it with vanilla flavor. Pods can be dried and reused as long as their surface remains oily and they still hold the scent of vanilla. Alternatively, for a stronger flavor, beans can be split in half. The flavorful seeds can be scraped into the dish and left, giving the final product a gourmet appearance with speckled vanilla seeds throughout.
Natural vanilla may infuse your dish with a mild yellow or light brown color. Vanilla is commonly used to flavor ice cream, cakes, pastries, custards, puddings, icings, and other sweet dessert dishes. But it can also be used to incorporate a mild sweetness into savory dishes. Vanilla compliments flavors such as chocolate, coconut, caramel, coffee, squash, seafood, duck, tomato, and others.
Whole vanilla beans are gluten free and kosher. Despite their possibly misleading name, Bourbon Vanilla Beans are not produced with or connected to Bourbon Whiskey. Beans should be stored at room temperature. Do not refrigerate. If stored in an airtight container in a cool dry place, beans can have a shelf life of up to two years.
Ingredients: Vanilla Planifolia
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