Madagascar is the world’s fourth largest island, which is situated approximately 250 miles away from the East Africa coast in the Indian Ocean. It is one island, which is an abode for various animals, plants and spices, which are hard to find it any other part of the world. A huge rainforest coverage, unique flora and fauna, humid climatic conditions, loamy soil and plentiful rainfall are ideal conditions for growing vanilla beans. That’s why 80% of the world’s vanilla beans are found in Madagascar and are popularly known as Bourbon or Madagascar vanilla beans.
Though vanilla beans are found in different parts of the world but Madagascar beans are rated as the gold standard or prime beans. The main reason for the same is Madagascar or bourbon beans are hand-pollinated that too in a limited window of five to six hours of blooming. The growing and harvesting of Madagascar vanilla bean is not only labor-intensive but delicate also due to which a high level of attention is required while hand picking them. The growing season of six to eight months and harvesting season of one or two months gives these vanilla beans the classic flavor and aroma. Moreover, the labor-intensive process of growing and harvesting the beans make it one of the most expensive vanilla beans in the market today.
Based on the region of growing, different vanilla beans have different tastes and flavors. Some of the popular flavors associated with gourmet or bourbon vanilla beans are woody, smoky, floral, earthy and musty.
Different Uses of Madagascar Vanilla Beans
These beans are the premium quality of beans; therefore people can use them in a variety of ways. Give your desserts like vanilla ice-creams, cake, pancakes, etc., a healthy flavor by adding vanilla extract or vanilla bean powder. Chefs strongly believe that adding a little of vanilla seeds in any savory dish accentuates it flavor significantly. This is the main reason that some of the spices often paired up with vanilla beans are cocoa powder, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves to name a few. Some people even use the beans for preparing mocktails.
For using Madagascar vanilla beans, try to slice a bean lengthwise by using a sharp knife. Then again use knife for scraping out the black caviar seeds, which are known as vanilla caviar. These seeds are responsible for giving vanilla a sweet and smoky flavor and are considered as rich source of vanillin. After scraping out the caviar, you can add them in baked dishes like in a cake batter, sauces, cookie dough, frosting and more. Do not make a mistake of throwing vanilla beans after scraping out the seeds. Simply dry them in the sun and ground them to prepare a vanilla powder. This powder makes a great and sweet addition to coffee and sugar.
Mexican, Tahitian and Indonesian are three other varieties of vanilla beans available in the market today but not all are considered as all-purpose beans like Madagascar vanilla beans. Therefore, gather knowledge about the taste and usage of each bean before making a purchase. The good news is you can buy all these beans and their by-products like vanilla extract, vanilla bean powder and vanilla essence from both online and offline marketplace. Simply decide whether you want to purchase vanilla bean pods or by-products and make your purchase accordingly. It is advisable if you are buying Madagascar or any other vanilla beans from the online marketplace, check the authenticity and reviews of the online store before making a purchase. And if you are making an offline purchase, purchase the soft and pliable bean pods having no signs of blemishes and dryness.