Mexican Vanilla Beans


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My brother is getting involved in specialty food export/import in Mexico. While he was there on a business trip, I helped my SIL care for their daughter. So my brother paid me in Mexican Vanilla Beans.:D

There’s three types of vanilla: Tahitian Madagascar, and Mexican.

Tahitian is very very fragrant. However it’s absolutely flavorless. Really a waste of money.

Madagascar is very flavorful. Many bakers claim it’s the best—better than Mexican vanilla. Which is not true. Vanilla is not native to Madagascar.

The vanilla cultivated in Madagascar is in fact Mexican vanilla. The vanilla and the two regions are exactly the same species of vanilla orchid.

There are very subtle differences due to slight various in soil and climate. Mexican vanilla cultivated in Madagascar has spice notes, while Mexican vanilla has a slightly more woodsy notes.

Mexican vanilla is in fact the world’s best vanilla, whether it’s Mexican vanilla cultivated in Madagascar or in Mexico.

I strongly recommend caution when considering Mexican vanilla extract. Read the label very carefully to ensure it is in fact extract. It should contain Mexican vanilla an alcohol only. It’s best to to purchase Mexican vanilla extract is from a reputable company like Nielsen-Massey. A lot of product labeled “Mexican Vanilla” is an artificial product made with coumarin, derived from the Tonka bean, and no vanilla bean. If you Google Tonka bean it may even come up as “Tonka vanilla bean”. But Tonka bean is not a vanilla orchid. It’s not even a vanilla species. While it has the fragrance of vanilla it it is essentially flavorless. US government has issued a health warning for coumarin.

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Forgot to mention that vanilla bean is very expensive. But vanilla is not a one use and discard product.

After scraping the seeds from the pod place the pod in a couple of cups of sugar. Store in an airtight container. In a couple of weeks you’ll have vanilla sugar.

Even if you use the vanilla bean to infuse a liquid, like heavy cream for ganache, just dry off the vanilla bean well, then place it in sugar.
 
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What a great reward for your work! I have to say I very rarely use vanilla beans, I tend to use vanilla bean paste instead. I should try using the real stuff more. I don't really know much about vanilla though, so I found this a very interesting read :)
 
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Vanilla bean husks, like many herbs, can be put into a bottle of some liquid for "infusion". You can even put it in a bottle of cooking oil, or whatever oil you use for pastries. Place it in a bottle of distilled water and let it sit in the fridge for a bit, for a vanilla water to use with baking.



Boil some water, place the husk in a small, shallow dish, pour enough hot water over the husk to just cover it.
(no more than 1/4 cup of water at the most) Let it steep until the water gets cold.

Pour the vanilla water into a small bottle, along with one tablespoon of clear rubbing alcohol, and you have your own vanilla fragrance. This itself has many uses, depending on how strong and how much is made.......perfume, air spray/room scent, potpourri scent, etc... If you have a fire place with real logs.......you can pour this onto one of the logs, let it soak in, then wrap the log in plastic until ready to use. When the log burns, it should give off a slight vanilla scent.

If you make your own potpourri, you can also use the discarded vanilla bean. Just let it dry out, and then place it in your potpourri.

Finely chop up the vanilla bean husk, add it to some meltable wax, and make your own scented wax melts. This also works for candle making.
 
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What a great reward for your work! I have to say I very rarely use vanilla beans, I tend to use vanilla bean paste instead. I should try using the real stuff more. I don't really know much about vanilla though, so I found this a very interesting read :)

I love vanilla bean paste. I went through a period of 3-4 years of which I exclusively used vanilla bean paste or whole vanilla bean. But since relocating there’s only one store in my area that carries vanilla bean paste. :(And it is so ridiculously expensive at that store. So I’ve been using vanilla extract more in the last two years. With the extract I find I use nearly twice as much since it burns off. I really do prefer vanilla bean paste or whole vanilla bean. I was so excited to have all these vanilla beans I baked a batch of biscotti this morning as an excuse to use some:D
 
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Mmmm well now I'm craving biscotti! :D

It's a shame that you can't get vanilla bean paste locally, but it looks like those pods will keep you going for a while ;)
 
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The word Vanilla comes from the Spanish "Vainilla" which means "little pod"

"Vaina" means any kind of pod, like a pea pod too, or sometimes a sheath, shell or husk. It's also a vulgar word in many countries that's used to say "thing" or "thingy-majig".

Despite being a fluent Spanish speaker and having spent over a year and a half living in Mexico, I only discovered this last month. I had always thought Madagascan vanilla was the most common and best and even spent a while trying to find it in Mexico!
 
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The word Vanilla comes from the Spanish "Vainilla" which means "little pod"

"Vaina" means any kind of pod, like a pea pod too, or sometimes a sheath, shell or husk. It's also a vulgar word in many countries that's used to say "thing" or "thingy-majig".

Despite being a fluent Spanish speaker and having spent over a year and a half living in Mexico, I only discovered this last month. I had always thought Madagascan vanilla was the most common and best and even spent a while trying to find it in Mexico!

Interesting how meaning changes by culture and context. It’s wonderful that you are multilingual. While I’m first generation Japanese, the school discouraged my mother from speaking Japanese in our home. So I only speak English. My SIL is Japanese, so she speaks to my niece in Japanese only. Then twice a week she attends Japanese classes. At 5 yrs. she well aware of the difference between the two languages. She said to me, “I know how to speak Japanese and English.” She is blonde with blue eyes so people are always started when they hear her speak in Japanese.

Yes it’s a common misperception that Madagascar vanilla is the best. But they are the same variety of vanilla orchid. My bother’s business partner has an established export business in Mexico that focuses on dried fruits. He wants to expand into coffee and cocoa beans. So my brother is developing the distribution side of the business. I told my brother if the farmers they partner with are in the region suitable for vanilla orchid cultivation, they should really consider adding some. Can go wrong with coffee, chocolate, and vanilla.
 
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The word Vanilla comes from the Spanish "Vainilla" which means "little pod"

"Vaina" means any kind of pod, like a pea pod too, or sometimes a sheath, shell or husk. It's also a vulgar word in many countries that's used to say "thing" or "thingy-majig".

Despite being a fluent Spanish speaker and having spent over a year and a half living in Mexico, I only discovered this last month. I had always thought Madagascan vanilla was the most common and best and even spent a while trying to find it in Mexico!

Ahhh. Glad you said that as I had looked at my vanilla case, and indeed they spelled it Vainilla. I thought it was a typo until I read your explanation.
I bought this at a store here called Winco. Great store with fairer prices. These beans came in a cigar shaped container with that cute plaid top. Though the beans were shorter than store bought ones, you do get 2 beans in the container. See pictures.
 

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