How to use and store vanilla
Vanilla is a spice used both in desserts, meals, sauces and in beverages. It is also used in perfumery, in the manufacture of cosmetics and even in pharmacology because its applications are numerous.
If its cost has already slowed down your hedonistic explorations, our prices will ensure that only the limits of your imagination are a brake on its use.How to recognize the quality of a vanilla:
- Before buying a pod or several vanilla pods, smell it. Whatever its origin, it must give off a pleasant and appetizing perfume. Discard the pods odorless or having an olive kernel odor. They are immature pods.
- Reject the vanilla which has a tangy smell: they have not been refined and will have fermented.
- Discard vanillas that have contaminant notes. Vanillas from new vanilla exporting countries are sometimes coated with shoe wax to color pods black.
- Discard any vanilla that appears to be coated with an amount of oil, it may have been coated with vegetable or mineral oil. A well-prepared vanilla shows the presence of vanilla essential oil on the surface, but it is a very fragrant oil. In addition, this essential oil becomes resinous on good quality vanilla. Also beware of vanilla from new exporting countries, they pull the essential oil out of the pod with a vacuum packaging process but this process reduces the pod's ability to fight mold and other bacterial damage and does not does not replace refining.
- Discard pods that show traces of white mold on the surface. You won't miss them when they have large white or yellow fluffy patches, but you need to be aware of any white spots that may appear on the toe or head hook before it becomes unrecoverable.
- If they are packed under modified atmosphere (carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrogen (N2) - odorless, colorless, accepted by organic certification), they can display a humidity level of 35 to 38% and offer wonderful scents; but in bulk avoid them unless you are used to storing vanilla of this quality or unless you have an immediate plan. Due to our extremely changing climate, vanilla storage is the number one challenge for vanilla specialists in Quebec. Also if you buy dThese loose vanillas, don't take the chance to lose them and choose them a little drier but flexible enough to be wrapped around a finger without breaking.
- Finally, it is better to use a dry vanilla rather than a moldy vanilla. The dry and brittle vanilla forgotten in the back of your wardrobe may still surprise you! Rehydrate it 4 to 6 hours and you will be surprised how happy it can still bring you.
When it is winter, the vanilla that you bring back from your favorite market may experience a little condensation due to temperature changes between the market and your kitchen. If it has a little moisture on the surface, let it air dry for 24 hours before storing it in a glass jar of a size suitable for your vanilla bunch. Keep an eye on it for a few days to make sure no mold develops.
If you notice a white spot, remove the affected pod to avoid contaminating others. Rub the white point and use it quickly. If you don't have time, split it in half and plunge it into your bottle of Rum (who won't complain !!) or put it in your sugar jar. You will stop the fungal development and get a wonderful vanilla sugar!
Similarly, when your pod has dried in the sugar, grind the pod with the remaining sugar and you are with a great vanilla sugar for pastry.
If neither of these methods is at hand, simply dry the pod to stop fungal growth. The quickest method is to light your stove for a few minutes, then switch off and let the loose pod dry in the heat rest of the stove. Your dry pod can be used without a press later; either rehydrated or ground into powder.
The shelf life of vanilla
Well preserved, vanilla keeps and continues to refine and develop its aromas for years.
A quality ripening period lasts eight months, sometimes even two years, as on Reunion Island, but it has become very rare for producing countries to refine vanilla for so long, which is why Colibri Vanille continues curing in its premises until it is delivered to our points of sale or we send it to you by post in bags under modified atmosphere, and in bubble envelopes to limit sudden changes in temperature.
How to use vanilla in natural pods
Although this question seems surprising to Europeans, in America it is more common to use vanilla extract in the kitchen. So some little explanations are needed.
The most fragrant particles in vanilla are found inside the pod. The seed, commonly also known as vanilla caviar, is removed from the pod by splitting the pod in half using a sharp knife blade and scraped to be deposited in the device which will carry the flavor and bind it to food.
The pod itself also carries aromatic molecules that were transmitted to it during ripening, so do not throw it away! You can immerse it in your rum or your table sugar, but you can also immerse it in your bottle of vanilla extract which will be improved or then in a jar of neutral alcohol to make your homemade extract (the manufacture of the extract can be found on another page of this website).
In your homemade preparations, it is heat, sugar or alcohol that diffuses the scent of vanilla. To extract the maximum flavor from the pod, you can also crush it entirely with a food grinder in oil, water, alcohol, milk, sugar syrup or honey, in short everything who crosses your mind; then heat this appliance at least 20 minutes before using it. Soaking your device for 12 hours can also be very successful, if you have time. Then filter for your sauces, pastries, smooties, etc., but you can also fully use this device containing the crushed pod in your cakes, muffins etc. Vanilla is fully edible even if in most recipes only caviar is used.
Moreover, the blue vanilla pods from Reunion Island are so refined and tender that they are eaten in thin strips as a finish on the dishes.