From the steamy jungles of Madagascar to our air conditioned shop in Chicago, Spice Boss is here again to teach you about vanilla. This short adventure offers a glimpse at a real vanilla orchid flower. You may be underwhelmed at the flower’s appearance. As most orchids go, the vanilla orchid is unimpressive. It is small and greenish yellow. The true beauty of vanilla is derived from its extraordinary flavors and aromas.
We offer three varieties of vanilla bean, each with subtle differences. There are no rules as to what vanilla you should choose. Whatever flavor you enjoy most is probably the best. Just like the debate over Chicago-style deep dish pizza versus New York-style thin crust pizza… Chicago will always be the best.
At the center of the vanillaverse is the Madagascar vanilla bean. The island of Madagascar produces up to 80% of the world’s annual supply of vanilla. This is the vanilla you are most likely to find in ice cream, cakes, and cookies. Its flavor is also what you might associate with other popular sweets like chocolate, hot cocoa mix, coffee creamers, and even marshmallows. Our Madagascar vanilla beans contain about 2.2% vanillin, the main chemical compound that delivers vanilla flavor.
Mexican vanilla beans are a staple and standby for pastry chefs and home cooks. Richer than other beans, some people pick up notes of honey, butter, roasted nuts, wood, and obviously that distinct vanilla flavor. Mexican beans contain about 1.8% vanillin, hitting more bass notes than other varieties. This bean is delicious with Mexican pastries and drinks, like horchata or scratch-made hot chocolate. Add some paste from the bean to a hot chocolate with a pinch of your favorite chile pepper for a fun Mexican treat.
Tahitian vanilla is the shining jewel of our vanilla trio. This bean is recognized as its very own species, Vanilla tahitensis. The vanillin content in our Tahitian variety runs about 1.6%. While they have the lowest vanillin content, their unique and fruity aroma is a result of higher heliotropin levels. Notes of black cherry, fruit candies, and tropical flowers abound in this bean. If Willy Wonka created spices, he would have invented Tahitian vanilla. This is a fun flavor for spicing spirits or making simple syrups. These beans come at a higher value, as they are larger than our others and contain more seeds.