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It’s the Peak of the Vanilla Flowering Season

Lisa and I spent a good part of the morn­ing out in the vanillery pol­li­nat­ing the flow­ers. We’ve been out there every morn­ing for sev­er­al weeks already, but today was dif­fer­ent. It seemed like the entire place was ablaze with the pale blos­soms: every­where you looked, flow­ers beck­oned as if to say “come taste my sweet nec­tar” but of course, we were not there for that. Pollinating a vanil­la flower takes del­i­ca­cy, a steady hand and a famil­iar­i­ty with the anato­my of the orchid’s bloom. After a while, you can do it quick­ly, which is good, because there are sev­er­al hun­dred of them ready to go today. There’s no wait­ing for these flow­ers, they’ll be closed for busi­ness by noon…it’s like… (read)

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First Harvest of the 2021 Season!

The cycle begins anew! This week we pulled our first har­vest out of the vanillery, offi­cial­ly start­ing the 2021 har­vest sea­son.  This year is slight­ly lat­er than most , typ­i­cal­ly we see our first har­vest in the first week or two of January. The har­vest sea­son typ­i­cal­ly goes until late April, so it’s a full 4 months of going into the vanillery to har­vest 3 times a week. This year we are expect­ing a small­er har­vest than last year. There were not as many flowers…not sure why but the crowd­ing in the vanillery could be one factor.

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The New Vanillery has been Built and Planted

We’ve been work­ing on get­ting this new vanillery (locat­ed on the north­west cor­ner of our prop­er­ty) built for a cou­ple of years now. This bit of land was not in use, and sev­er­al very large “weed” trees were in the way and need­ed to be removed. No point in plant­i­ng under a tree you’re going to cut down, so we had to wait until we had the help we need­ed to get the trees down. The sto­ry of get­ting rid of those trees is long and con­vo­lut­ed, it took sev­er­al tries to get the job done…but thanks to lots of able help (maha­lo: Jonathan, Tim, Christopher, Freddy) and sheer per­se­ver­ance, we got it done. Once the trees were cleared, we need­ed… (read)

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Building a Vanilla Sweat Box

This arti­cle is an addi­tion to the 2‑part How to Cure Vanilla Beans arti­cle.  A crit­i­cal stage in the cur­ing of vanil­la is the “sweat,” where the enzy­mat­ic process that devel­ops the vanillin takes place. The sweat box cre­ates an envi­ron­ment that holds the beans at the opti­mal tem­per­a­ture for this process. In the How to Cure Vanilla Beans arti­cle, I describe how to put togeth­er an ad hoc sweat box using a cool­er and hot water bot­tles. In this arti­cle, I will describe how I built the elec­tri­cal­ly heat­ed sweat box used to han­dle larg­er quan­ti­ties of vanil­la pods.

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How to Cure Vanilla Beans, Part 1

I occa­sion­al­ly get ques­tions from peo­ple who are grow­ing their own vanil­la and want to know the best way to cure the beans. Getting a good cure out of your beans can be a lit­tle chal­leng­ing, but hope­ful­ly, this guide will make it eas­i­er. It is essen­tial that vanil­la be prop­er­ly cured in order to obtain the desired aro­ma and fla­vor from your vanil­la beans. Processing vanil­la beans is a mat­ter of sup­port­ing both the vanillin devel­op­ment and the slow dry­ing of the bean in order to pre­serve it.

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