Vanilla Beans - 7grams


Botanical Name: Vanilla planifolia 

Common Name:

  • English: 
  • Also, known as:  Vanil, Vanilha, Vanilja, Vaniliya, Vanili, Vanille, Wahn Nei La, Heung Gaahp Laahn, Heung Lan, Heung Ji Lan, Vanilija, Vanilka, Vanila, Vanilla, Vanillia, Vanilia, Vanille, Vanilo, Vaniglia, Vanillikaun, Vanil, Vyanilla, Venila, Fanylje, Fanille, Faoineag, Paneli, Panili, Vanili, Vanilja, Vanilje, Vanile, Vanilie, Vanilija, Vainilla, Vanilj, Vanilya,  Xiang Lan, Xiang Zi Lan, Xiang Cao Lan, Xiang Cao, Vanilje, Harilik Vanill, Fanaile, Banira, Panilla, Wanila, Bhenila, Wanilia Płaskolistna, Baunilha, Lavani, Vanikkodi, Wanila, Wanilla, Fanila, Fanilya, Vanil, Bainila, Bhenila, and  Banila 

Origin: Madagascar

Harvested: Cultivated 

Parts Used: The ripe fruit pod, called bean                                                               

General Information:

The climbing plant reaches a height of about 12 feet (3.5 meters) and has clusters of green-yellow flowers that develop into aromatic brown seed pods with small seeds inside. Flowers will only last one day, and if left un-pollinated, will fall off. The plants are self-fertile, and pollination requires the transfer of the pollen from the anther to the stigma, which involves using a small splinter of wood or a grass stem to carefully lift the rostellum out of the way and press the overhanging anther against the stigma. You need to do this soon after the flower opens. Fruit is produced only on mature plants, starting at two or three years old. The fruits are 15–25 cm long pods, filled with thousands of tiny globose seeds about 0.3 mm diameter. Vanilla beans are ready for harvest in six to nine months after pollination. The beans are harvested one by one when they are fully-grown and as they begin to ripe. At this stage, beans change their color from dark green to light green with yellow tinge. Immature beans produce an inferior product and, if picked too late, the beans start splitting. Bunch or broom harvesting should be avoided. The well-ripened ready beans detach easily from the bunch just by lifting them in reverse direction. Immature beans do not detach easily from the stalk.

After harvest, the fresh vanilla pods have no aroma, but must be cured for four to five months - a process of drying and fermenting pods, which encourages secretion of vanillin in tiny crystals on the outside of the pod. Processing and curing should commence within a week of harvest.

Sorting and Grading: Size and appearance are the important factor here as there is a direct relationship between the aroma and these factors.

Cleaning: After grading, beans are washed with clean water.

Killing: Graded beans are transferred to a bamboo basket and immersed in hot water at a temperature of 70°C for periods as per table below.

Sweating: The treated beans are then transferred immediately to a wooden box lined with blanket, for sweating and kept for 36-48 hours. The temperature initially is to be 48-50°C. By then, the beans will attain light brown color and start imparting aroma.

Sun drying: Later on, the beans are spread in hot sun over wooden loft on a clean black blanket. The temperature of the bean, at this time should raise to 50°C. Later on, the bundles are transferred to the sweating box. Sun drying, and sweating is continued grade-wise, as per table below. At the end of this period, the beans lose half of initial weight, turn to a shining dark brown color and develop wrinkles. Also, their aroma improves.

Slow drying: The next step involves the spreading of the beans in racks kept in well-ventilated room maintained around a temperature of 35°C and relative humidity of 70 per cent. The duration of slow drying is as follows:


Length of Beans

Grade of Beans

Period of immersion

Sun drying period

Slow drying period

15 cm >


5 minutes

12 – 14 days

20 – 35 days

10 – 15 cm


4 minutes

7 – 10 days

10 – 20 days

10 cm


2 minutes

5 – 7 days

3 – 10 days

Splits, cuts and damaged beans


1.5 minutes

5 – 7 days

2 – 8 days


On completion of slow drying, the vanilla beans get heavy longitudinal wrinkles, turn lustrous with brownish-black color and become supple. They offer a soft leathery touch; can be rolled around finger easily and on release, becoming straight. The moisture content at this stage may be around 30-35 percent.

Conditioning: The dried and classified beans are bundled, tied with a thread and kept for conditioning inside wooden or metal boxes lined with wax paper for two months. By this time, there is a further loss of three to four percent moisture with the full development fragrance. Finally, the bundles are wrapped in wax papers and stored in airtight containers.

Cured vanilla beans contain a large number of substances which include vanillin, secondary aromatic compounds, oils, resins, organic acids, sugar, gum, tannin, wax, cellulose, and water. Fresh vanilla beans contain vanillin glucoside, an odorless sub­stance. Only after har­vest, that glycoside is broken by a fermentation process, yielding the aromatic free vanillin.

When Hernan Cortez forced the Aztec ruler Montezuma to grant him an audience he was the first European to try chocolate; less than three years later, the great Aztec capital Tenochtitlan had been shattered to pieces, and the Aztec empire had ceased to exist. Vanilla planifolia was first brought to Europe by Hernan Cortez in 1518.  Before conquering the Aztecs, Cortez and his army witnessed the Aztec emperor, Montezuma, drinking ‘Choclatl.’ Made from cocoa and flavored with ‘Tlilxochitl’, the Aztec name for cured vanilla beans. Over the next 300 years, no one outside of Mexico was able to get this orchid to fruit. Finally, it was first discovered in 1836 that a tiny bee names the Melipone which lives in Mexico was the sole pollinator of this plant. Unfortunately, this bee does not survive outside of Mexico. And the Spanish were able to hold a monopoly on vanilla production for centuries because of this. It wasn’t until Edmond Albius, a 12-year-old boy in Reunion, a French colony in the Indian Ocean, found a way to manually self-pollinate the plant that the plant could be grown elsewhere.  His technique remains the main way Vanilla is hand-pollinated today. At present, 70-80 % of vanilla beans are grown in Madagascar.

Whole fruits are an expensive but important flavoring for chocolate, ice cream, custards, milkshakes, puddings, various sweet dishes, confectionery, sweets, sugar, preserved fruits, soft drinks and liqueurs. It is also an ingredient in soaps, skin lotions, body and hair care products, massage oils, incense, baked goods, and flavorings. The whole vanilla bean can be added to the dish and removed again for future use. It is often split lengthwise and the soft, aromatic pulp scraped out. Most perfumes contain vanilla.

How to use:

Hot Infusion:

The basic method for dried herbs and flower is, take 2-3 tablespoons of dried herb in a cup or teapot. Pour hot water over it and cover it with lid for 10-30 minutes. Hot water is needed to draw out the antioxidants, enzymes, vitamins, flavonoids, and volatile oils from the botanicals. Strain and squeeze out as much as liquid as possible and enjoy!


  • You can sweeten your herbal tea with a bit of honey, natural fruit juice, stevia leaves powder and or licorice root powder.
  • You can make ice cubes or pops by freezing tea in ice trays or pop molds.


You should consult with a qualified healthcare practitioner before using any herbal products, particularly if you are pregnant, nursing, or on any medications.

All information on this website is for educational purposes ONLY.

This information has not been evaluated by Health Canada.

This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.