Cultivation of vanilla
The different culture stages
From the plant to the sale
1 – Plant and pollination
Vanilla is a liana from Orchid species.
Flowers appear in grape, after a rigorous selection they are manually pollinated with a needle or a spine. It is after 9 months of gestation, the green vanilla bean will be collected.
2 – Killing and sweating
Green vanilla beans, are dived during 3 minutes in a bath between 60° to 65°C. This operation stops the evolution of the beans. Tahitensis botanical spicy species curing varies a bit, because there is no killing phase. Its curing lasts 4 to 5 months.
Once killed, vanilla beans are immediately poured in big boxes stuffed with wool cover to avoid any heating loose. Thanks to the heat, an enzymatic process takes place, vanilla beans sweat.
24 hours later, vanilla beans are suppler, with a dark color.
3 – Drying
. Placed in thin layers on grids or tables, vanilla beans are exposed to the sun 3 to 5 hours a day for 10 days. All along sunny time, beans will be turned in order to dry harmoniously.
Shade drying.Vanilla beans are placed on grids in well ventilated warehouse. Each day, vanilla beans are turned and inspected. Those judged dried will be taken out and will go for the next step. Drying period can last 1 to 2 months.
Vanilla beans are sorted depending on their moisture rate, colour and quality.
Quality of vanilla will be determined depending on their moisture rate, more a vanilla is damp more it will be qualitative (in the limit of the norms). We will speak about cuts, which is the dryiest quality and black vanilla, best quality.
5 – Maturing and sizing
After being sorted per quality, vanilla beans are stored in boxes during 2 to 3 months. During this period, aromatics will amplify, and mature. Each week, vanilla beans are checked in order to set apart potential mould.
Than they will be sorted again by quality, sized, in order to bundle them uniformly. They are ready for export.