How We Grade Our Vanilla

Vanilla is gen­er­al­ly sold in 2 or 3 dif­fer­ent grades. The grade of a par­tic­u­lar vanil­la bean is deter­mined accord­ing to the size, mois­ture lev­el, and appear­ance of the bean.

As a buy­er of vanil­la, the grade you select depends on what you intend to do with the bean. The dif­fer­ence in price is not very great, and what dif­fer­ence there is is based on how many such beans there are in the har­vest.

Simply put, Vanilla grades are not relat­ed to the qual­i­ty of the bean at all. A Grade A bean is not a bet­ter bean, it is sim­ply bet­ter suit­ed to a par­tic­u­lar pur­pose.

A vanil­la bean, no mat­ter what the grade will be intense­ly fra­grant, a bit oily, and free of con­t­a­m­i­nants or mold. A bean that does not meet these stan­dards will not be offered for sale.

Choosing a Vanilla Grade

The choice of which grade to buy is a mat­ter of how you intend to use the bean.

  • Grade A beans are the best selec­tion for any recipe that calls for the use of the vanil­la caviar. These beans are the soft­est, plumpest beans, and so will have ample quan­ti­ties of pulp inside. Grade A beans are also the bean of choice in any appli­ca­tion where the appear­ance of the bean itself is impor­tant.
  • Grade B beans are best for use in mak­ing extract: they have a low­er mois­ture con­tent and there­fore are a more con­cen­trat­ed source of vanil­la fla­vor. Grade B beans are select­ed for appear­ance too, so would be the bean of choice when­ev­er the bean itself is on dis­play, such as in a vanil­la extract kit.
  • Extract Grade beans are the bean of choice for pro­fes­sion­als who need a high-qual­i­ty source of vanil­la fla­vor with­out the require­ment that the beans be pret­ty. For exam­ple, if you want­ed to make vanil­la paste, extract grade beans would be a good choice.

How We Grade Our Vanilla

Every pro­duc­er of vanil­la will have their own stan­dards they use to grade their vanil­la. We pro­duce 3 grades of vanil­la, as described below:

  • Grade A: these beans will have the best appear­ance: they will be whole, straight, unsplit, free of blem­ish­es, and a min­i­mum of 16 cm in length. They must also, of course, be soft and plump.
  • Grade B: these beans are also select­ed for appear­ance: they will be whole and straight, but some minor split­ting is allowed. The min­i­mum length of these beans is 12 cm, and they will be sup­ple, though gen­er­al­ly not as soft as the Grade A.
  • Extract Grade: these are the beans that did not mea­sure up to the appear­ance stan­dard of grades A and B. Beans that are not straight, too small or too split. Extract grade beans must nev­er­the­less meet our stan­dards of sup­ple­ness, fra­grance, and gen­er­al qual­i­ty.