vanille06_-_credit_irt_-_emmanuel_virin_4.jpgVanilleVanille© Emmanuel VIRIN
© Emmanuel VIRIN

Discover the best vanilla in the world

The most discerning palates know it well, vanilla is much appreciated and can be used in an endless number of ways. Thanks to the tropical climate, which is where this spice truly flourishes, the production of Bourbon vanilla is a key part of life here on Reunion Island.

The history of Reunion Island Bourbon vanilla

The origins of vanilla and its use go all the way back to the 16th century, when the plant was first discovered by Spanish conquerors, in South America. When it was imported to Europe a century later, it was an instant success! The taste of vanilla is much sought-after, to add flavour to all sorts of dishes!

Historical info

A long time before Europeans, the Aztecs had understood how to get the very most from vanilla and they used it to add a sweet flavour to cocoa beverages.

Come and meet Maryse to discover the secrets of the real Bourbon vanilla

Where did the name “Bourbon” vanilla come from ?

Thanks to the tropical climate, the islands of the Indian Ocean quickly became the hotspot for vanilla plantations. With 1,200 tonnes produced in the 30s, Reunion Island, previously known as Bourbon island, was alone producing 3/4 of worldwide production! Vanilla therefore became Bourbon vanilla, in tribute to its origin.

 

Did you know ?

Vanilla production goes back to 1841, when a young slave, Edmond Albius discovered the technique to pollinate vanilla plant flowers.

Bourbon vanilla, traditional expertise and know-how

It’s not that simple to obtain vanilla essence, quite the contrary in fact. There are several steps to respect before obtaining this precious spice:

  • Curing by immersing the beans in hot water: this is the step that triggers fermentation
  • Fermentation: this step adds colour to the vanilla pods
  • Drying: they are left in the sun for 2 to 3 weeks and then in the shade, to stop the fermentation process
  • Storage: they are sealed in a closed box for 2 months, this step produces the flavours and aromas.
Did you know ?

Vanilla leaves and pods feature on the Reunion Island coat-of-arms