Real World Gardener Lovely Vanilla in Spice it Up part 1

April 30th, 2019


Vanilla planifolia and cvs

Have you ever wondered how and when the spice trade started?

Maybe not but did you know that nutmeg was once worth more by weight than gold?

Also that in the 16th century, London dockworkers were paid their bonuses in cloves?

There was so much to tell with the story of this spice that I had to split it up into two parts.

Here's part 1.


To produce the green bean, each vanilla flower needs to be hand pollinated.

I'm talking with Ian Hemphill from

Vanilla_beans.jpgThe vanilla bean is  a long green bean. When it's mature the beans are put on curing racks during the day, then wrapped up in woollen blankets at night. 

this is done everyday for 15 - 28 days.

It's up to the head curer to judge the readiness of this stage.

After the 28 days have been reached, the beans are then wrapped for a further 2 months. 

Vanilla bean curing is very labour intensive and so far hasn't been mechanised successfully enough to give the complexity of aromas reached by the manual method.

Thanks to Ian’s encylopeadic knowledge of the spice trade we can look forward to part 2 of the vanilla bean story next week.

There’ll be plenty of tips on how best to use vanilla in cooking plus a surprise tip that will just delight you. We’ll also re-cap a little tiny bit of the story.

If you have any questions either for me or for Ian, drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

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