Why is Vanilla Soooo Expensive?
I have had very little to do with orchids in my life except to admire their beauty. Since being back in Agnes Water the past two years I have been up close and personal with these beautiful displays of nature. There is everything to love about them, from their foreign looking vine with its rigid leaves, to the growth rate they have if they are in the right environment, and their amazing flowers with both male and female parts inside.
The flower is most spectacular, not for it's colour, size or presence, but because it is one of a group of flowers who no longer have a pollinator alive throughout the world to fertilise it. For this very reason each flower has to be hand pollinated within the 6 hour window they are open each day, for a vanilla bean pod to grow. It takes some precision, and a good understanding of their growth habits to successfully pollinate the flowers, and this takes time to learn and practice. The whole flowering process is over within a few weeks, and then it is time to wait...
The pods develop over a few months and remain green at harvest time. Not rushing the harvest, and being patient for this is what helps the flavour profiles develop during the curing stage. I grow vanilla organically and use a traditional method of curing to tease out the luscious aromas. This takes daily care over a few months, and the knowledge of when to stop the curing process, much like fine wine.
Today I harvested close to triple the vanilla bean pods from last year from the same vines. I expect I will get my flower pollination rate up around 70% and beyond as I continue this process each year. The pods are much larger in size, straighter and I cannot wait for them to turn their lush oily chocolate colour and reach their final curing stage in the teak box I have purely for them, the aroma when I open it is so pleasantly appealing.
I envisage the timing they will be ready will be around the Christmas baking season and I will let you know when they are available. This picture is of last year's harvest. The harvest this year is looking much better.
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