Vanilla beans: 16 Tanzania planifolia
These Tanzanian vanilla beans were listed on eBay by Kim. Kim met the vanilla growers while working as a teacher with the Peace Corps. The money raised from these beans went to Tanzania to cover the cost of school and school supplies. Read the previous stories.
The beans are flexible and brown-red in color, but are not very oily, supple, or moist. They have a nice coating of frost. Vanilla frost, while not a strict indicator of quality, shows that the beans contain vanillin and were properly cured. It’s also pretty rare, as most beans are sold vacuum packed, which prevents the frost from forming.
A majority of the beans have small to large splits in the end, indicating that they were harvested when ripe (and not too early). The number of split ends reminds me of these beans from Vanuatu. As Piero explained, to ensure maximum flavor, the growers are taught to wait until the end just splits before harvesting a bean. Premature harvest is a huge source of low quality beans, and frustration for new growers.
These beans seem to have a very high concentration of vanillin, like the Ugandan vanilla I reviewed. They do lack the sophisticated curing that comes from a vanilla region like Madagascar with a specialized curing industry. However, these beans are the embodiment of terroir. They are farm-cured, and come direct from the grower. Cool! I can’t wait to sample the extract.
If you would like to buy Tanzania grown vanilla and support small farmers, Kim says that there are plenty of growers eager to sell their vanilla. Let me know through the contact form, and I’ll put you in touch with Kim.