28 Dec

Madagascar vanilla beans are not really beans, but the fruit or seed pod of the orchid species, vanilla planifolia. The vanilla orchid is native to Mexico and the vanilla genus is home to more than 100 species of vanilla plants, but only a handful are cultivated commercially. The vanilla planifolia species is the most common type and it is the variety grown in Madagascar and Mexico. Another popular variety is vanilla tahitensis, a unique hybrid vanilla bean variety from Tahiti.

The type of vanilla grown on Madagascar and in most other locations is Vanilla planifolia, also known as Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla. About 70% of the world's real vanilla comes from Madagascar. However, an estimated 95% of all vanilla products contains artificial vanilla. According to a 2019 analysis by XploreMR artificial vanilla is experiencing a drop in demand due to the increasing unpopularity of these products, and the growing trend of using natural flavouring. The best quality Bourbon Vanilla, also called Black Vanilla, is produced primarily around Antalaha, Sambava, Vohemar and Andapa in the northwest of Madagascar.

Describing Madagascar vanilla’s bouquet is challenging, even though it is a familiar flavor to so many.

What Makes Madagascar Vanilla Beans Special?

Madagascar vanilla beans are considered to be the gold standard for quality vanilla beans in the spice world. The humid, northeast corner of Madagascar, known as the Sava region, produces the majority of the world’s finest vanilla beans. The plentiful rainfall and fertile, loamy soil create optimal conditions for these delicate plants. While vanilla growing conditions in Sava, Madagascar are nearly perfect, it is the people of Madagascar that make this regional spice so special.

The art of growing and curing quality vanilla beans is completely done by hand. 

Vanilla grown outside of its native country, Mexico, has no natural pollinators. Each vanilla orchid flower must be delicately pollinated by hand.

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