India

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Website: http://www.beanilla.com
Vanilla beans reviewed: India planifolia, Indonesia planifolia.
Cost: Beanilla provided this sample for review.

Beanilla’s excellent Madagascar, Tonga, Mexico, and Papua New Guinea vanilla beans are already featured on this site. Recently, they added India and Indonesia grown planifolia pods. Brent at Beanilla sent these vacuum-packed samples for review. Rarely do you find two beans with such different and distinct aromas, it’s an exciting and obvious contrast.

India planifolia (Grade A – $36.50 for 8 ounces, 1/2 pound)

More and more India vanilla is coming on the market. Two years ago it was difficult to track down, but in the past six months I’ve evaluated several samples.

Beanilla’s India vanilla beans are dark brown in color. The skins have a beautiful texture, the smoothness and sheen of the pods are evidence of expert curing. The pods are well-shaped and very flexible.  These vanilla beans are turgid with caviar.

Inside, the vanilla pods are oily and gooey. Sticky strings form as the bean is pulled apart. The aroma is dark and rich, with strong overtones of chocolate and prune. There’s a large yield of thick, moldable, and very oily caviar in each bean.

Indonesia planifolia (Grade A – $35.98 for 8 ounces, 1/2 pound)

Indonesia vanilla beans are often picked too early, and the curing process is typically hasty and unrefined. Gourmet Indonesia vanilla is rare; there’s only one other example on this site.

Beanilla’s Indonesia grown beans are black in color. The pods are flexible, but flat and not plump. The skins are moderately oily and only moderately supple, but these are still among the best cured Indonesia beans I’ve evaluated.

The caviar is pillowy and light. It has plenty of moisture, but isn’t especially sticky. Caviar yield is moderate. The beans have a spicy, cinnamon aroma that is a noticeable contrast to the India beans’ chocolate notes.

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VanillaMart (India)

Website: http://www.VanillaMart.co.uk
Vanilla beans reviewed: 1o each 12-15cm (regular), 15-17cm (gourmet), and 18-21cm (premium gourmet) planifolia from India.
Cost: VanillaMart provided this sample for review.

It’s always nice to see another vendor of India-sourced vanilla beans. India vanilla is not yet widely marketed, but the industry in south India continues to grow. This is a European vendor, selling vanilla beans from the United Kingdom.

VanillaMart’s vanilla beans are grown by a group of farmers’ co-operatives in South India (Malnad region of Karnataka). Pods are intercropped with coffee, cardamom, black pepper, and other spices. VanillaMart has been selling these vanilla beans in the UK for over a year, and has found wide acceptance of non-Madagascar vanilla.

The samples arrived loosely packed, instead of vacuum packed. The pod texture is supple and has a nice, matte sheen. Not overly-greasy, like some vacuum packed beans can be. All have a wonderful, spicy aroma.

12-15cm India planifolia (Regular – no longer sold)

Since I started the review, these vanilla beans are no longer for sale, but VanillaMart sent some as a comparison sample. The regular beans are not as moist as the two gourmet-length varieties, but they have plenty of flexibility. The skin is a bit dry, though, with some light brown streaks.  They have a good aroma and are moderately plump.

The last picture (below) shows the regular-length vanilla.

15-17cm India planifolia (Gourmet – £24.00 per 500 grams)

The gourmet-length variety is my favorite. The skin is supple and dark brown. The pods are flexible and oily. They have an average plumpness. The caviar is also quite oily, and there are some pools of oil left on the plate after cutting. There is an average yield of caviar. Its texture is very nice, quite moist and shapes well.

The first picture (below) shows the gourmet-length beans. The remainder of the photos show the premium gourmet beans because, apart from the length, they are comparable in quality.

18-21cm India planifolia (Premium Gourmet – £27.00 per 500 grams)

These vanilla pods have an average plumpness, a bit more than the Gourmet, but are also very wide. The skin is dark brown in color, flexible and oily. The caviar is slightly oily and has a beautiful texture. There is an above-average caviar yield, due to the size of these vanilla beans.

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Website: http://www.silvercloudestates.com/
Vanilla beans reviewed: 8oz (250g) planifolia from India
Cost: Silver Cloud Estates provided this sample for review.

Silver Cloud Estates’ vanilla beans are grown and cured on the same farm, a real rarity in the vanilla industry. This is definitely vanilla with a sense of place — all the beans are grown on the estate in the Blue Mountains of Southern India.

Click read more for the full review. Read the rest of this entry »

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Website: http://www.orchidsasia.com…
Vanilla beans reviewed: NONE
Cost: orchidsasia.com has offered to send beans for review. I’ve lost contact with JAGS.

The minimum order is a bit large, but perhaps these beans will be available from resellers in the future. Jags at orchidsasia.com has offered to send samples of the latest crop for the review. I’ll add photos as soon as I get the sample. Be sure and check out the Jags’ info on growing and curing vanilla.

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