Is It Ok to Source Vanilla Pods Online?
Should I buy vanilla pods online?
Ahh, vanilla pods, natural vessels for that gorgeous black, vegan caviar that bakers’ dreams are made of—rich, fragrant, vanilla seeds. A finicky product of orchids, with lengthy growing times, small yields, and ample curing time, yet a popular flavor found in everything from sweet to savory, it’s no wonder vanilla beans are one of the most expensive spices in the world, coming in second only to saffron.
If you’re like many folks in the world, you're a huge fan of vanilla flavor and fragrance. When pondering sources for vanilla beans, though, you have to take into consideration many variables: were they sourced ethically, can you trust the quality, are they the optimal type of bean for your purpose, and so-on.
You may be asking yourself: should I buy vanilla pods online?
There is no absolute answer to this question but there are precautions you can take to ensure you are getting what you want out of a vanilla bean when buying vanilla pods online.
Though, you will find forums and blog posts telling you not to trust your vanilla buying to online sources because you can’t examine them by looking closely, feeling for plumpness, or smelling for that incredible fragrance. What they should be saying instead, is to take care when choosing an online provider. Actually, in brick and mortar stores, you usually don’t have the chance to engage your senses prior to purchase either because the beans come in packaging that prevents doing so.
Making your vanilla purchase online doesn’t necessarily mean you will be taking a gamble on quality. The important thing is to ensure you find a reputable online source. Here are some tips to help you find the best vanilla from a trusted source!
Check out testimonials of vanilla bean quality for that vendor.
Professional chefs, home cooks, and culinary enthusiasts alike get very serious about the quality of their vanilla beans. When they find a great online source, they aren’t afraid to shout it from the virtual rooftops! Take the time to skim through reviews for the vendors you are considering and ensure others have been willing to attest to the quality.
Ensure the vendor has a money-back guarantee.
Plain and simple, if the company truly believes in the quality of their product, they are going to offer a satisfaction guarantee on their vanilla beans. It builds trust with the consumer and they understand that if a consumer is going to go to the trouble of ordering a product ahead, rather than purchasing from a brick and mortar right before making their recipe, they are looking for an optimum product, care about their ingredient choices, and aren’t going to return it unless the vendor doesn’t meet their standards of quality.
Determine whether or not the beans are sustainably and ethically sourced.
There is much more to finding a great online vanilla bean vendor than ensuring the quality of their beans is up to par. Sadly, because the market price of vanilla beans is so high, vanilla producers worldwide are being robbed and those beans are being sold on the black market. There are some online vendors who have purchased their beans on the black market and are selling them through their online shops, despite the dreadful cycle this creates. Learn more about how these atrocities are affecting the overall price of vanilla.
Know the grade and type of vanilla bean you require prior to ordering.
Vanilla beans are graded based on uniformity, aesthetics, and moisture content. So, if you are purchasing grade A, also referred to as gourmet, beans online, you can know you are getting moisture content right around 30% (as long as you are buying from a reputable vendor). Grade B, or extraction grade, vanilla beans will contain a moisture content between 15-25%, may vary in length, and may have slight imperfections like scarring or sunburn. These imperfections don’t alter the flavor of the bean and the moisture content simply means the vanillin is more concentrated and may take a longer infusion process.
The type of vanilla bean may also alter the results of your recipe. Beans of various regions and species will bring forth different flavor notes.
Consider the recipes you have in mind before choosing your vanilla beans to ensure your culinary creation is the best it can be! Need more help choosing the best vanilla bean for your use? Check out this article.
So you see, there is no need to put your recipe in jeopardy of being mediocre when purchasing vanilla pods online. You just need to do your due diligence prior to purchase.
Oh yeah, and in case you are curious, Slofoodgroup meets all of the above requirements of a reputable online vanilla vendor. Check out some of our non-GMO, ethically-sourced, world-class vanilla beans here!