Vanilla beans reviewed: Sampler Vanilla Bean Pack
8 Each of Grade A Madagascar, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, and Uganda Gold ™.
Cost: $20.49 (plus minimum order charge and shipping)
Amadeus shipped the beans in loosely sealed plastic bags. Watch out for the minimum order charge if you just get the sampler, like I did. Glenn at Amadeus has been a great resource for this article. This is “the” place to buy Uganda Planifolia vanilla beans. Their sampler pack is a great way to start your extract collection.
Indonesia Planifolia (Grade A)
A darker-smelling bean, very moist. The fragrance was warm and spicy, like cardamom, coffee, or incense, but also a bit chemical somehow. Very long and pretty beans, but not the strongest fragrance.
Madagascar Planifolia (Grade A) Regular and Super Long
These have the ‘classic’ vanilla aroma. Both the regular and super long varieties had plenty of caviar. The super longs are well cured, with a pliable but firm skin. Instructables member cdrivanova ordered the 1/4 lb sampler pack with the regular sized Madagascar beans, you can verify the quality of these beans in her Flickr photo set.
Glenn at Amadeus Trading sent me the Super Long beans to replace an order of regular sized beans that were short, dry, and stick-like (see Madagascar vanilla comparison). Amadeus acknowledged the problem and sent replacement beans. While there was nothing wrong with the original beans flavor-wise, they didn’t meet my (or Glenn’s) expectations for Grade A vanilla beans.
Papua New Guinea (PNG) Planifolia (Grade A)
While these were the next-smallest beans (after Madagascar) from Amadeus, their caviar yield was rather high. It smelled the most “vanilla-like” of all the beans, with a soft and velvety fragrance that made me think of ice cream, or some kind of skin lotion. The smell was decidedly creamy. This is my favorite (smelling) vanilla to date.
Uganda Gold ™ Planifolia (Grade A)
Very big beans, longer and thicker than most I’ve seen. They were so big that they were the obvious choice for the pictures in this instructable. Yields a lot of caviar. The smell was tangy and fruity, like figs or certain multicolored breakfast cereals. Amadeus appears to be ”the” source for this particular bean. Glenn says these are available in extract grade:
“The organic grade 1 Bourbon beans we sell on our website are Uganda origin beans. So if you want to give those a try, you should get some impressive results. We have just had our latest shipment tested, and one supplier’s beans tested at .27% vanillin content — that’s extremely high (a good vanillin content for Madagascar beans is .17% – .19% — in past years we saw “really good” results as high as .19% – .21%. So these Uganda beans are really something!” Glenn Gottlieb, Amadeus Trading Company, e-mail, 22-DEC-2007.
UPDATE: Instructables member pbwingman11 posted some pictures of the Uganda extract beans on flickr.
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