What makes a vanilla bean "Gourmet" or "Grade A" quality?
This is a very popular question for anyone who is new to using whole vanilla beans. Most stores or suppliers only carry one type of vanilla bean, thus the customer never has the opportunity to compare.
Vanilla bean quality is determined by moisture content, bean length, and condition. Moisture Content is one of the most important aspects of high-grade vanilla. Grade A (Gourmet Grade) vanilla beans are extremely moist. Oils should be visible on the outside of the vanilla bean and the bean will leave a residue on your fingers after touching. Vanilla beans with high moisture content will be soft to the touch and highly flexible when bent. It is common to see the oils extend from the vanilla bean when packaged in vacuum sealed bags. This is a characteristic of extremely high-quality vanilla.
The vanilla bean length is also an indication of vanilla quality. Grade A vanilla beans are typically over 6 inches, or 15 cm, in length. Vanilla beans offered Beanilla often reach 8 inches (20 cm) in length. Grade A vanilla beans should also be flexible and soft to the touch. Vanilla beans that appear to be stiff, split, or cracked are considered Grade B or Grade C.
Beanilla was created out of the frustration of not being able to obtain truly Grade A vanilla beans. Each package of vanilla beans is hand-packed by well-trained vanilla connoisseurs to ensure excellent quality of every vanilla bean.
What makes each vanilla bean so different?
This is a great question, especially considering how many types of vanilla exist. There are two main characteristics that determine the flavor, appearance, and aroma of a vanilla bean:
Origin — Like fine wine, the location which the vanilla is grown plays a large role in the aroma and flavor profiles of a vanilla bean. This is due to each country having a unique method of curing and drying vanilla beans. So many unique curing processes results an equally large difference in flavors produced by the vanilla bean. Species — There are three main species of vanilla that are produced commercially. These include vanilla planifolia, vanilla tahitiensis, and vanilla pompona. Each species has unique characteristics. The planifolia species is grown throughout much of the world, from Hawaii to Mexico to Madagascar and is by far the most heavily produced. This species is typically more round and plump compared to the other species. However, strong variations do exist. Vanilla tahitiensis, commonly referred to as “Tahitian Vanilla”, typically has a more floral aroma and flavor. Tahitian vanilla beans also contain less vanillin content (the active ingredient responsible for flavor) and are often used in perfumes. Tahitian vanilla beans also tend to be wide and flat.
Quality is our finest ingredient. We are committed to providing you only the highest quality vanilla from around the world!
The Beanilla team