What Are The Best Vanilla Beans In The World?

by Kindi Lantz December 13, 2018

How To Determine The Best Vanilla Bean In The World For Your Project

There are numerous types of vanilla beans from a multitude of growing regions around the world, each with unique flavor and aroma profiles. The diversity in beans provides opportunities to find and utilize the perfect bean to enhance the flavor of a particular dish. But to many, the variety of vanilla is slightly intimidating—a feeling that will likely spawn a wide array of questions. How can I tell the difference between types of vanilla beans? How do you know what to look for when buying vanilla beans online? Where are the best vanilla beans in the world cultivated? We've gone over the first two questions in previous blog posts. Now it's time to address the third. 

So, which region does produce the best vanilla beans in the world? Because climates, cultivation methods, and curing processes differ from place-to-place, the beans from the various locations each have distinct flavor properties that lend to different applications. To answer the original question, we need to get a little more specific with the question. Rather than asking about the best vanilla beans in the world, expand the inquiry to include your intended use of the vanilla bean.

I’ve addressed the question revolving around the best vanilla beans in the world as it relates to some of the most common uses for vanilla beans.

What are the best vanilla beans for hot chocolate?

Quite often, Mexican vanilla beans are used for adding a hint of vanilla to hot cocoa because they are quite smooth, with hints of spice. While you can’t go wrong when adding vanilla to hot chocolate, I prefer the Bourbon style beans from Indonesia for contributing an extra lift to my cocoa. You see, Indonesian beans are sweet, pungent, and have subtle hints of smokiness, which lends well to anything chocolate! Plus, the unique curing process used in Indonesia produces a finished product that holds up remarkably well in heat applications!

What are the best vanilla beans for making perfume?

Vanilla Tahitensis is commonly used for making perfumes due to it's unsurpassed, almost intoxicating aroma. It is incredibly floral with notes of cherry and peach. We recommend trying extract grade vanilla beans from Tahiti for infusing rich vanilla aroma into your perfumed products because they have far less moisture than the grade A variety.

What are the best vanilla beans for vanilla extract?

When searching for vanilla beans online, you’ll typically come across two grades of vanilla beans: Grade A, or gourmet vanilla beans and Grade B, or extract grade vanilla beans. As the name suggests, the extract grade vanilla beans are more commonly used for making homemade vanilla extract. The reason is simple, Grade B vanilla beans have a much lower moisture content, meaning the vanilla flavor is highly concentrated. It is best used for vanilla applications requiring an extended infusion process, much like vanilla extract!  Most extracts are made using Grade B Madagascar Bourbon vanilla beans, though there are many different varieties of extract beans, and the types of culinary masterpieces you will be creating with your extract should absolutely influence the type of extract bean you use.

What are the best vanilla beans for savory dishes?

The vanilla bean you use for savory dishes should be chosen based on the other flavors of the dish you are making. That said, for a lot of savory dishes, I lean on this Vanilla Planifolia variety from Uganda. It is earthy and bold, with warm and rich undertones of butter and figs. The pods of this particular variety of vanilla bean host caviar with higher-than-average vanillin content, meaning it is clearly recognized in even the most heavily seasoned dishes.

What are the best vanilla beans for ice cream?

Vanilla bean ice cream is most commonly made with Vanilla Planifolia and, regardless of growing region, Planifolia is a great choice for a sweet and buttery vanilla bean ice cream with those luscious little flecks of vanilla caviar. If your goal is to produce a classic vanilla bean ice cream, look for a Bourbon variety. We especially love these extra long Madagascar Bourbon vanilla beans for the deep classic vanilla flavor they contribute.


Did I miss anything? What are you planning on using vanilla beans for? Let us know in the comments section and we’ll make a suggestion for an ideal vanilla bean.

Or, you can check out the descriptions on our product pages, where we suggest uses for individual types of vanilla beans.





Kindi Lantz
Kindi Lantz

Author

Kindi Lantz discovered her love of cooking long before she could even reach the kitchen counters; her grandmother gave her access to nearly every ingredient in her kitchen for her (mostly inedible) experiments. Kindi’s culinary capabilities continued to grow even when she had reached her peak height at just under 5’. Her first job was as a Chef’s Assistant on her relatives’ farm at the age of 11. Throughout high school and college, she worked in a wide variety of restaurants—from American pub food to Japanese, Korean to Cajun, and down-home diners to Italian— and with each, she developed techniques and expanded her culinary expertise. For the better part of 10 years, Kindi managed and even took on part ownership of a gourmet catering company in the Portland, OR metro area—it was there, alongside some of the most talented chefs, planners, and entertainers, that Kindi’s passion developed the most. Kindi is obsessed with only using fresh and sustainably-sourced ingredients in the recipes she creates, which is what led her to SloFoodGroup!


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