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The Distinct Grades and Uses of Vanilla

Slofoodgroup Team June 30, 2019

How to distinguish differences in grades of vanilla beans

Vanilla is delicious. It's also somewhat rare to find, which explains why it can sometimes be expensive. Vanilla is the only edible fruit of the whole orchid family, which includes about 25,000 orchid varieties and more than 10,000 hybrids. The vanilla bean is harvested by hand-picking and then gets cured before being dried for a period of up to six months. The shortest drying period is at least four months.

Uses of Vanilla

Vanilla fruit is widely used to make flavoring, as well as medicines. It is used to treat intestinal gas and fevers. It is also used as an aphrodisiac. Vanilla fruit, as stated above, is used in foods and beverages. In foods, for example, it helps in reducing the amount of sugar required for sweetening.

The Grades of Vanilla Bean

There are two grades of vanilla and each is distinguished from the other by appearance and moisture content. 

Grade A vanilla beans are also known as gourmet vanilla. These beans normally have higher moisture content when compared with grade B.  Grade A vanilla bean flavor is much more diluted than grade B, thus it does not take as long for the flavor to be transferred to your dish.

Grade B vanilla beans are also referred to as extraction grade vanilla beans. The extraction grade are the beans chosen to make vanilla extracts because of their much lower moisture content. The lower the moisture content the higher the concentration level of the vanilla flavor it can produce.

Professional chefs and home cooks alike, however, prefer grade A vanilla beans when cooking since the higher moisture content in them allows the flavor to seep into the dishes being prepared much quicker. In short, the grade A type gives out their flavor more readily compared to their grade B counterparts. Therefore whether you are preparing a savory cream sauce or just a sweet treat, choosing grade A will give you the best results.

Why Buy Vanilla Beans in Bulk?

You may be asking why you'd want to buy these sometimes pricey beans in bulk, and is it worth it? Most people prefer buying vanilla beans in bulk online or reputable vanilla stores offline. Here is why you need to buy bulk grade b vanilla beans.

  1. Supporting ethically sourced and traded vanilla: No matter where you buy them, always ensure you pick ethically traded vanilla beans in a vanilla food store or online store; by doing so, you will be supporting the farmer. Vanilla, just like coffee and chocolate, is a labor-intensive crop. By buying ethically sourced vanilla, you will be supporting the local farmer to get a reasonable wage from their labor-intensive crop.
  2. Great for gifts and sharing: Bulk grade B vanilla beans, just like grade A vanilla beans, make a great gift idea to those you love and care for. When you gift anyone that loves its flavor, you will be sure to put a smile on their face. There are people who are fond of purchasing freshly ground vanilla, bulk grade B vanilla beans, or even freshly ground vanilla bean powder and willingly split their order with friends.
  3. Saving time: Whether you are buying bulk grade B vanilla beans, grade A beans, or freshly ground vanilla bean powder, it saves time. There are many times when you have decided to bake in the urge of the moment only for you to find that you don't have enough of this vital ingredient. Therefore, purchase in bulk and check you cupboard from time to time to ensure it is not yet exhausted. You will realize that you have saved a lot of time and money by buying vanilla beans in bulk.