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Kauaʻi Traveler magazine features our vanillery

We’re very pleased to have an arti­cle about our vanillery in Kauai Traveler mag­a­zine!

Read the arti­cle here…

8 thoughts on “Kauaʻi Traveler magazine features our vanillery

  1. Dear Roland

    I had the dis­tinct plea­sure of tak­ing a class from Beatrice yes­ter­day and she real­ly likes your vanil­la beans, as you know. Here is my prob­lem. I do not know which ones to order. I have been mak­ing vanil­la, using rum, for many years and I am delight­ed to read all about your operation. 

    What do sug­gest I order? I make it in a fifth bot­tle that I con­stant­ly replenish. 

    Your advice will be appreciated. 

    We once lived on Cosby street in Queens Acres, back in 1987



    1. Hi Ellie,

      For what you’re doing, the grade B is the way to go. Those beans are slight­ly less moist, which is a good thing when you’re doing an extrac­tion. The usu­al for­mu­la for extract is 1 oz. of vanil­la beans to 10 fl. oz. of vod­ka or rum. A full fifth is 25 ounces, but you’re not mak­ing straight extract, you’re just keep­ing a bot­tle of it going. That’s how we do it at home too! In a sit­u­a­tion like that, you’d be using less alco­hol, so maybe 1/2 to 3/4 cup of booze with your ounce of beans. The add more in a few months when it’s run­ning low. It will be good and strong after a few weeks.

      We’d be hap­py to show you around if you want…email us at [email protected] to arrange it.

  2. Roland,
    I am only 10 days in the sweat box and I am see­ing mold grow­ing on the out­side of the beans. I wash it off and put them into the dehy­dra­tor for an hour, but the next day out of the sweat box, it reap­pears. Any sug­ges­tions? Beans were 6 months post pol­li­na­tion, and picked because they were start­ing to turn yellow.

    1. Beans that come off the vine ear­ly (sounds like you had no choice in the mat­ter) are unlike­ly to cure prop­er­ly because they won’t have the sug­ar con­tent you need to pre­vent mold. I would say your best path for­ward is to clean off the mold, then pro­ceed straight to dry­ing the beans slow­ly. A dehy­dra­tor is prob­a­bly the safest way to go there. Once the beans are dry, you’ll be able to tell if they are worth keep­ing. They will still be liable to mold after dry­ing, however.

      1. Roland, I would like to know if you could refer me (and oth­ers) to a source for pur­chas­ing vine that comes from a good bean pro­duc­ing strain of v.planifolia. Your blog is very instruc­tive on the grow­ing and cur­ing vanil­la, but is remiss on where peo­ple can obtain viable stock to start this ter­rif­ic and reward­ing hob­by. Information on this would be key. Please help us to find rep­utable suppliers.

        1. Hi Charlie,

          This is a real­ly good ques­tion and although there seems to be sev­er­al online ven­dors offer­ing root­ed, grow­ing vanil­la vines, it would be hard to deter­mine the qual­i­ty of the plant you would be get­ting form them. Probably best to stick with estab­lished nurs­eries for that.

          The ques­tion of obtain­ing plants that are good pro­duc­ers is not one I’ve seen much, even when you read the agru­cul­tur­al lit­er­a­ture, you don’t see men­tion of mak­ing sure you’re grow­ing a good vari­ety, but get­ting local plants from an estab­lished farmer should give you that. In places where vanil­la is grown com­mer­cial­ly, a new farmer will get cut­tings from a near­by farmer, I’ve done this here for sev­er­al oth­er farm­ers here on Kauai.

          What I usu­al­ly rec­om­mend to peo­ple who want to obtain plant mate­r­i­al for prop­a­ga­tion is to first con­tact your state uni­ver­si­ty Agricultural Exteansion. These pro­grams are there for the pur­pose of help­ing farm­ers, they should have local con­tacts for obtain­ing plants.

          The oth­er thing to try is to find out if there are any vanil­la grow­ers in your area. Maybe through an inter­net search or through a local orchid soci­ety. This is a good way to get plants that are known to do well in your area. At cer­tain times of the year, there should be a lot of prop­a­ga­tion mate­r­i­al avail­able when the vines are get­ting pruned.

          I don’t know of any spe­cif­ic sup­pli­ers to rec­om­mend, I’m sor­ry, I have nev­er had to inves­ti­gate that.

          1. Roland,
            I was for­tu­nate enough to acquire some v.pompona and was won­der­ing how your cur­ing sched­ule would apply to their beans. Should I fol­low the cur­ing you have out­lined for v.planifolia, or would you alter it, as the beans are larg­er and thicker.
            Thank you for all you do for the vanil­la grow­ers around the world

          2. Hi Charlie,

            I don’t have any expe­ri­ence with the cur­ing of pom­pona beans, I’ve nev­er man­aged to acquire the plant. I did advise the per­son I’m buy­ing pom­pona beans from, and they said the tech­niques I used for plain­fo­lia beans were applic­a­ble, but did not go into detail. I’m sure there were dif­fer­ences in terms of the amount of time required, but the basic chem­istry will be the same. In a hot, humid cli­mate, they are often sim­ply air dried under cov­er to avoid direct sun or rain. 

            One impor­tant point that I know only a lit­tle about is deter­min­ing the ripenss of the bean. I believe the beans are inde­his­cent, mean­ing they won’t open on their own. As in the case of Tahitian vanil­la, it can stay on the plant longer, you may even start to see some brown­ing of the ripe fruit. The point is, you will want to avoid har­vest­ing ear­ly, as this will give a low-qual­i­ty cured bean. With plan­i­fo­lia beans, this is a time-crit­i­cal deter­mi­na­tion because the beans will start to open if you wait too long. You won’t have to be con­cerned with that with pompona.

            The sweat and the dry­ing can be done in the same way, but the dry­ing will of course take longer. The beans should end up sup­ple (you can bend them with­out break­ing) but not exact­ly wet inside. It will be com­pa­ra­ble to a raisin or dried apri­cot in how it feels to the touch. Once it’s dry enough, it should be aged for sev­er­al months. I keep them in ziplock bags or weath­er­tight stor­age con­tain­ers for aging. You want to avoid them dry­ing out as they age.

            As you may have noticed, there is almost no infor­ma­tion out there about cur­ing pom­pona. It is gen­er­al­ly con­sid­ered an “infe­ri­or” bean with lit­tle com­mer­cial val­ue, so it seems no-one has both­ered to real­ly do the work of find­ing the best way to cure them. This is a bias I think you can ignore: you may not be able to use it in the same way as Tahitian or Bourbon vanil­la, but it has a won­der­ful fran­grance all its own. I have read that they are some­times used in per­fumery or to add fra­grance to pipe tobacco.

            If you find out more about these beans, I’d love to hear about it. I find them fascinating.

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