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Madagascar Production

The connection with Madagascar

The northeastern corner of the unique island of Madagascar is where the majority of the world’s vanilla is produced. This humid region with the Indian Ocean at its coast, is known as the Sava. Here it rains often and in combination with fertile, loamy soil, the Sava provides ideal conditions for the delicate vanilla orchid to grow. While one can almost say that the growing conditions in the Sava are perfect for cultivating vanilla, the aspect that really makes Madagascan Vanilla so special is the people. Growing and curing quality vanilla requires hard work, patience and dedication. A new vanilla plant takes around three years to start to produce flowers. 

Once a vanilla orchid blooms, the window for pollination to take place is less than 24 hours. The flowers need to be pollinated by hand and so the farmers need to keep a close watch so that they can go to work quickly and carefully when needed. After 6 months, the vanilla beans can be harvested and the important process of curing can start. We are fortunate to have a farmers’ association in Madagascar filled with people who are knowledgeable and passionate about producing the highest quality vanilla.

Madagascan vanilla beans, as they are so often called, are not really beans. They are actually the fruit of the Vanilla Planifolia orchid – a vine plant native to Mexico, but cultivated in different tropical regions including Madagascar. Almost everybody is familiar with the flavor vanilla, however, when it comes down to describing the bouquet of real Madagascan vanilla, it poses quite the challenge. Vanilla is one of the most complex spice flavors, making it near impossible to describe. It has earthy notes, undertones of oak, leather and dried dark fruits, yet at the same time it is also sweet and floral. 

The most important flavor compound of real vanilla is called vanillin, an organic compound responsible for the unique warm, sweet and creamy flavor. Besides vanillin, there are more than 250 other compounds contributing to the complex and often nuanced flavors one can detect when smelling pure vanilla. This is also why it is impossible to get the same intricate, complex, yet balanced flavoring from artificial vanilla substitutes. Artificial vanilla aroma consists only of synthetic vanillin and excludes all the other compounds, resulting in a flavor that falls flat in comparison to the intriguing bouquet of pure vanilla or pure vanilla extract.  

The vanilla from Madagascar

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