Vanilla ..... ice ice baby...

nicko

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Ok so I am interested in getting a discussion going about vanilla beans and the different varieties that are available. As you guys know I have really been getting into ice cream lately. The other day I was in Penzey spices and I was was suprised at the different types of vanilla beans avaliable. Here are a few that are available:

Madagascar Vanilla Bean
Mexican Vanilla Bean
Indonesian Vanilla Bean

Any thoughts, preferences.

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Thanks,

Nicko
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isa

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I've been trying to find the book in which I read about vanilla but I can't recall the title. In any case, the authours were saying that the best vanilla bean come from French Polynesia. Those beans seems to be the plumest (is that even a word?) and contains the most grains.


I had some and truly it was a very nice vanilla. Could be that it was fresher then the one in the stores.

Sisi
 
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Nicko,
Here is a fun thing to do if you have the cash and intrest, buy the smallest amount of each and see what you like. Simple as that, which one appeals to you.

I like to buy a good quality vanilla extract and put serveral split vanilla beans in to give specks and extra flavor.

Lets keep this subject going....
 

nicko

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Fair enough M brown I stopped by to pick up some more this weekend but the shop was closed when I got there. Intially I tried the Mexican vanilla beans, but I am going to try the Madagascar beans next. I like the idea of using vanilla bean with some extract.

Sisi I have never heard of the French Polynesia variety. Any ideas of where I can get some?

Last but not least lets hear more about what varieties you prefer and why.
 

isa

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Nicko,

French Polynesia is a term to describe the territory that France still govern in the pacific area. It includes 150 islands in the south east Pacific. Among those are the Marquise Islands, Société Islands including Tahiti.

I checked the Larousse Gastronomique on vanilla. Roughly translated they say:

"...distinguish four types of vanilla the vanille fine (fine vanilla) with a long bean (20 to 30 cm) black in colour and extremely perfume. The vanille ligneuse (woody vanilla) (13 to 20 cm) is dry and a little frosty. It has a brown red colour. The vanillon (10 to 12 cm) is thicker, flat, soft always a little open. It has a brown colour. Its smell is strong and a bit acidic. Finally there is a variety that has a yellowish tint, imported from India that has almost no aroma.

Regarding the origin, the vanilla from Mexico, ley or leg, is the most valued one, followed by the vanilla from the Indian ocean, Madagascar, sold under the name Vanille Bourbon. Then the vanilla from the French Polynesia.


I guess the rating of the different vanilla varies according to source. I always thought Mexican vanilla was of poor quality. It seems that different sources have different ideas about which vanilla is best. I found a website that sells vanilla and they rate Tahitian vanilla as the best one (http://www.icdc.com/~vanilla/ ) I did a search on vanilla and most often Tahitian vanilla is rate as the best vanilla.


Sisi
 

nicko

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Thanks Sisi, I just picked up a bunch of Madagascar vanilla beans and will do some compaison testing. I think the Mexican vanilla bean is ok, but the Madagascar has a much better aroma in my opinion.
 
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Much like a fine blend of chocolates, if I had my way I would use a blend of vanillas. Madigascar for the aroma, Mexico for the plump beans and Tahitian for the flavor.
Love the crunch of the specks in vanilla Ice cream, custard and Brulee.
 

isa

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I was in a small food boutique this afternoon, on the counter they had a few big jars. They had real cinnamon and vanilla. Two jars of vanilla beans. One was full of the biggest vanilla beans I've ever seen. They were from Tahiti, really but really thick and the perfume was enchanting. I was a bit surprise of the price, 6$ per vanilla bean. I will have to try it at least once, see if it is really the best.
 
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