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This is the second part of my conversation with Maryse Mounier, a hard-working French woman growing bourbon vanilla on the Réunion island.
Maryse will tell us in details about the process vanilla beans go through from the harvest until they are ready to be sold on the market. You’ll probably be surprised by how precise each stage is! (temperature, time, etc.). Vanilla from La Réunion is unfortunately on the decline despite its excellent quality as it suffers from competition from Madagascar.
Maryse will share her best tips on how to tell a good quality vanilla from a mediocre one – if steps are skipped in the process, the end result won’t be as good. Pods looking big and fleshy can actually be deceptive: they’ll be attractive to the customer who may think that they’ll get more out of the pods but these pods haven’t been dried properly and may just rot before you use them!
How best to store your vanilla pods? What’s the difference between vanilla extract and vanilla essence? How can you use vanilla more creatively in your kitchen? Vanilla is often associated to sweetness because it is traditionally used for baking desserts. However, vanilla itself is not sweet and can be used in your next carbonara or mayonnaise recipe! Let the expert tell you more about this!
affinage (nm) = maturing ; refining (sugar)
charnu,e = fleshy, plump
claie (nf) = grid, grating, riddle
échauder = to warm, to warm up, to lightly scald
étuvage (nm) = steaming
fourchette de prix (nf) = price range
griller / sauter des étapes = to skip stages
malle (nf) = chest, box
moulin à café = coffee grinder
mûrir = to ripen
noeud (nm) = knot
récolte (nf) = harvest; crop
souple = flexible, supple
- After the harvest, what are the different stages of preparing the vanilla pods?
- Why doesn’t Maryse grow more vanilla, more intensively?
- What savoury dish with vanilla is famous at La Réunion?
- Echaudage (warming up so the pods don’t crack), étuvage (steaming, sweating: the pods become brown), séchage (drying), Affinage (maturing)
- She makes sure to leave space between the vanilla plant in case a disease kills them (some farmers then lose all their production this way)
- Duck with vanilla
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