Looking for answers, we can help.  Below we provided some great insight on some of our most frequently asked questions.

Any additional questions or concerns please contact us via email and we will be happy to assist.

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How do I store vanilla beans?

If it is your first time using real vanilla beans or you have been doing it for years there are always a few things to consider.  Vanilla should always be stored in an airtight resalable container wrapped in wax paper and tightly sealed in a jar or zip lock bag.  If you have your own food sealer these work great.   Never store your vanilla beans in the refrigerator as this can both dry out the bean and add additional moisture promote a specific type of mold that only grows on vanilla. Ideal storage for vanilla beans are cool, dry and dark places, such as a panty or spice cupboard.

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How do I make vanilla extract and what type of vanilla bean should I use?

This is a great question and one that we get a lot.  It is also one of our favorite to answer so here is our take on this two part question.  First we will address how to make vanilla extract: 

  • Select an alcohol such as vodka, rum, bourbon, or brandy that is 70 proof.
  • For every liter of Alcohol, you will need 3.34 ounces of Vanilla beans split, scrapped and cut. (for a better presentation, you can also split the beans, scrape them and put them in the container whole).
  • Place ingredients in airtight container.
  • Shake vigorously and continue to do so once or twice a week for 90 days. (The vanilla is ready to use after 90 days, but we advise an extra 30-90 days to allow it to fully mature).

Making your own vanilla extract is always more satisfying, a better value, and in our opinion a much better product. To answer the other side of the question of which vanilla bean you should choose, the choice is really up to you as all varities of vanilla beans will produce a great extract with different notes various flavor profiles.  We like to mix and match vanilla beans, even try different alcohols but if your looking for your standard Madagascar bourbon vanilla bean extract use that but if you want an alternative try the Uganda bourbon vanilla beans or perhaps a vanilla Tahitensis from PNG or the queen vanilla Tahitensis from Tahiti.  All beans will work great.  

I want to use fresh vanilla bean instead of an extract with alcohol in my recipes.  How do I know how much vanilla bean to use?

Here is a tough question.  On average one vanilla bean is equal to 1-2 teaspoons vanilla extract.  It should be noted that in some recipes vanilla extract or vanilla powder may work better than the actually bean.  Items we think extract works better in are things like cake batter, cookies etc.  Vanilla bean powder also works well in these recipes and distributes nice and evenly.  Fresh vanilla beans are great but we really do like to pick and choose how and what we use our vanilla beans.  Vanilla extract tends to have a more forward flavor and vanilla bean is a bit more subtle and suggestive rather than a near as direct as vanilla extract.

What grade of Vanilla bean should I use, A grade vanilla beans or B grade vanilla beans?

This question is up for debate so here is our humble opinion on the subject matter.  Both grade A and grade B vanilla beans work great.  They both have advantages and disadvantages.  The comparison can be thought of as fresh herbs with a soup or sauce versus dried herbs in your broth or soup. Grade A vanilla beans are traditionally higher in moisture which can be a disadvantage (you can potentially offset this simply by changing your ratio of water to account for the on average seven percentage points between a grade A vanilla bean and a grade b vanilla bean). Grade A vanilla is also usually higher in vanillin, so while you may get more beans per pound with a grade B vanilla bean what is the actually quality.  Grade A vanilla beans will also be easier penetrated by the alcohol and therefore easier to extract from where as grade B vanilla will take a little bit more time to show as advanced signs of extraction of flavors and compounds.  Grade B vanilla beans are great and usually a little cheaper depending on the current years vanilla market but not always the best bet.  We encourage you to play around and see for yourself.

I just purchased some of your saffron, how do I best use it?

We learned this from a Persian friend years ago during talks of the saffron plant and the wonderful both sweet and savory uses of this beautiful spice.  When using Persian Sargol Saffron, slightly grind  the saffron with mortar and pestle and add to steeping liquid, base or broth. Let stand for a minimum of 10 minutes or overnight for optimal results. Saffron will give of a beautiful golden hue that we finds goes well in our morning glass of almond milk.  Saffron is also said to ward off depression.

What are the fruit powders and why should I use them versus the actual fruit?

Our Fresh As fruit powders are whole fruit that has been freeze dried and then ground and one pound of Fresh As raspberry powder is equivalent to seven to nine pounds of fresh raspberries.  Our fruit powders are great for adding a concentrated dose of fruit flavor to recipes the will be stretched out with other ingredients  but you would still like the raspberry to shine.  We love them in Macaroons, sorbets, and they even work will in simple syrups. 

Why is Ceylon cinnamon more expensive than the cinnamon I already use and labeled as Siagon cinnamon?

Celyon cinnamon is known as true cinnamon for a number of reasons.  From a medicanal standpoint Ceylon is highly prized for various properties and characteristics known for controlling blood sugar levels.  Ceylon cinnamon is also more delicate, sweet with subtle notes of clove. It can also be easily broken.  Cassia or Saigon cinnamon is harsher, thick barked and not easily broken. It is also known to carry high levels of Coumarin German FDA has recommend not consuming large quantities of the Saigon or Cassia cinnamon. Try Ceylon cinnamon for yourself and you will see the difference. 

Why is saffron so expensive?

Saffron is so expensive because it is the worlds most laborious  spice. The saffron flower Crocus sativa, or saffron crocus, flowers once every fall.  Each flower has three tiny little threads known as filaments or stigmas in the center that make up different grades of saffron. When you buy saffron from us you are getting,  ISO  Grade I rated saffron with a  259.3 coloring strength.  When buying saffron you really are getting what you pay for be weary of saffron that seems to cheap.

What is the difference between Vanilla Tahitensis, Vanilla Planifolia, Bourbon Vanilla and Tahitian Vanilla?

This is a great question but where do we start.  Vanilla Planifolia, also known as Bourbon Vanilla is species of the vanilla orchid native to Mexico and Central America.  Vanilla Planifolia is the most common vanilla grown around the world and made famous by Madagascar who have long been known to produce good quality beans with high vanillin content.  Vanilla Tahitensis, also mistakenly referred to as Tahitian Vanilla is another variety of the vanilla plant that is a cross between Vanilla Planifolia and Vanilla Odorata.  The broad based term of calling all Vanilla Tahitensis Tahitian Vanilla is most likely due to the highly prized and desired true Vanilla Tahitensis produce in Tahiti.  Vanilla from Tahiti is some of the rarest vanilla in the world with a quality that is second to none because of the fertile land and the quality and skill of the growers and curers in Tahiti.  True Tahitian Vanilla is also cured at a higher moisture content for such a luxury vanilla bean that the beans themselves can be as high sixty percent moisture.  Try the many different varieties of vanilla beans we offer and see for yourself. We are sure you will come to love more than just one. 

Why are vanilla beans so expensive?

Great question.  One that has a couple different answers.  Allow us to explain.  Vanilla beans are expensive because they are a commodity and like all commodities price fluctuates with supply and demand.  Demand goes up so does price, demand goes down, and the price moves down accordingly.  Another factor to always consider when thinking about vanilla is it is also the second most laborious spice behind that of only saffron.  Each flower needs to be hand pollinated and harvested then cured over a series of week or even months.  

How long will it take for my order to be shipped?

All orders under 10 pounds will be processed within 24 hours of placement.  We use United States Postal Service for all orders unless specifically requested.  Orders under one hundred dollars will be shipped first class, all orders over one hundred dollars will be shipped out 2-3 day priority.  If you have specific needs or would like your order mailed overnight or via a different carrier, please let us know so we can arrange.  Additional  shipping services are at a cost to the client and can be paid via pay pal, visa or master card. 

What is your return policy?

Our return policy is located at the bottom of the page along with our site map and other useful information. Generally speaking our return policy is this: If you are not fully satisfied with any part of your purchase or order we will fully refund your money for any items unused, unopened and returned and received in good order. If you are unhappy with a product that you purchase from Slofoodgroup Spice Company for any reason, simply let us within 30 days. We will replace it or provide you with a full refund for the purchase price and cover the shipping cost to return the items to us. If you need help arranging a return please contact our customer care by calling us at 1 (808) 227. 8057 or sending us an email and we will happily assist in making all necessary arrangements.