Vanilla Planifolia is the world’s most popular, familiar variety of true vanilla, with richly sweet, custardy, dried fruit fragrances and flavors. Though versatile enough for any recipe, this rendition from Sambava, Madagascar, transcends the status quo thanks to exquisite attention in both the field and the fermentation process. The result is exceptional aromatic intensity and delicate crystalline pulp that glitters and glows when scraped out of the pod.
To preserve and maximize the value of vanilla beans, we recommend submerging them in vodka, gradually creating a top-quality vanilla extract. After just a couple of months, the liquor will be wonderful for everyday use. Whenever a recipe needs a strong amplification of vanilla flavor, the beans themselves can be pulled from the extract and cut lengthwise to yield superbly potent pulp and seeds, ready for mixing into sauces or pastes.
1oz vanilla (~6 beans)
Bracingly distinct from the everyday planifolia variety, Pompona Vanilla is found only from southern Mexico through northern South America. Because it is far less amenable to high-yielding domestication than planifolia, Pompona remains exceedingly rare, sparking a degree of esteem even before asserting its excellence in practice.
These Pompona Vanilla Beans are foraged by hand from Vanilla Orchids in Veracruz, where they grow to roughly triple the size of their skinny planifolia counterparts, and are cured for twice as long. This process entails meticulously massaging each bean by hand to ensure that their oils disperse evenly once the beans have been pulled from the orchid. This technique, combined with the Pompona’s innate size, yields roughly ten times the amount of interior pulp and seed prized for cooking when compared to traditional Vanilla. The result is a fittingly intense, refined ingredient.
With an earthy and rustic character evocative of leather, oak, and allspice, Pompona Vanilla lends itself equally well to simple, indulgent sweets as it does to complex and layered sauces.
To preserve the beans, we recommend submerging them in vodka. Over time, their exterior oils will transform the liquor into a potent extract. On any occasion that calls for an elegant amplification of vanilla’s presence in a recipe, simply cut a bean lengthwise, scraping out the pulp and seeds. Outside of a vodka bath, we suggest storing in a cool, dry place, wrapped in parchment paper, in an airtight container - we do not recommend refrigerating, which will degrade the oils. As is the case with many fresh and wild ingredients, a little bit goes a long way, assuring that these beans and their extract will enjoy a considerable lifespan in the pantry.
This item is 1oz Pompona Vanilla Beans (~3-4 beans)
Sourced in collaboration with Afro-Indigenous communities in Chocó, Colombia’s isolated and densely forested Pacific coastal region, this wild vanilla gorgeously defies expectations as both an ingredient and a supply chain narrative. While “everyday” vanilla planifolia pods tend to be small and slim, with sweet, creamy, and hyperbolic aromatics, this Colombian vanilla has a diversity of sizes and figures, with an immediately striking fragrant complexity that evokes spices such as anise and clove or delicate florals like jasmine and honeysuckle. When infused into a recipe, the flavors evoked are far more layered, piquant, and herbaceous than traditional vanilla, though the familiar essence cuts through enough for it to remain a worthy replacement.
At Regalis, our obsession with exceptional ingredients has kept rare vanilla on our radar for years. We have had the opportunity to work with producers from Mexico, Madagascar, and New Guinea, and we recently reconnected with Carole Prouteau, a French entrepreneur with a strong background in agriculture, based in Bogotá, Colombia. In 2020, Carole launched AIA Source & Trade, a startup with the broad but critical mission of facilitating smallholder farmers’ access to global markets while heightening supply chain traceability from producer to end consumer. Working on wild vanilla with two communities along Colombia’s western coast, Carole explains that she “created this company thinking that sometimes what producers need is only somebody to find the market that is open to reinterpreting the food supply chain, to supporting new supply chains to emerge,” going on to describe her role as “being a link between these communities that have very good products but can’t make a good match with actors in the market.” These are projects that we are truly proud to support, and ingredients we are lucky to share.
Bahia Solano, Colombia