How is vanilla produced?

How is vanilla produced?

One of the best-known spices in the world, not only for its delicious flavor but also for its exquisite aroma, is vanilla, a product whose uses and properties are truly magnificent. Vanilla is a product derived from the vanilla planifolia orchid, which has its origins in Mexico. From this plant thin pods are released and once mature are subjected to boiling and left under the sun until they turn brown and acquire a hard consistency, resulting in what we know with the name of vanilla.

Vanilla can be commercialized in the form of pods, powder or essence and is often used for the preparation of desserts and beverages, and thanks to its delicate aromatic properties, also in perfumery. In prehispanic times, vanilla was also used as an offering for the gods and as a medicine, since it has wonderful therapeutic properties. But, how is vanilla produced? Next, you can find step by step its production process, so you can fully understand it.

Next, you can find step by step its production process, so you can fully understand it. 

1. Planting: the first flowering occurs 3 years after planting.

2. Blossoming: vanilla orchids produce racemes attached to the vine and grow upward toward the sunlight. Typically one flower blooms at a time with each raceme. (mid Sept - mid Dec)

3. Pollination: works must check daily--after blossoming, the workers have 12 hours to pollinate. (from 6 weeks to 2 months, mid Sept - mid Dec during blossoming)

4. Harvest: the beans are ready to harvest when the tips become yellow. The plantations are visited daily so that the pods can be picked as soon as they are ready. (June - July, 7-9 months after the pollination)

5. Blanching: curing should begin within 1 week of harvest. (2 -3 minute process, wood fire at 65°C –around 150°F)

6. Sweating: allows for oxidation and enzymatic hydrolysis, then the "sweated" vanilla beans are usually placed on wool blanket. (24-48 hours)


7. Drying (Aug - Sept) a) Sun Drying: several hours per day, on wool blankets, elevated about 70 cm off the ground (1-2 weeks) b) Shade Drying: beans are spread out on rack spaced 12 cm apart in a well-ventilated room. The beans are sorted regularly, when beans have expelled sufficient moisture and are “supple” to the touch with pronounced, rich color, they are immediately removed—to avoid mold/mildew growth. This procedure is repeated weekly. (2-3 months) c) Rack Drying: beans are removed for conditioning, sorted again, and are straightened by drawing them through the fingers. The beans are next tied into bundles of about 50 beans, wrapped in wax paper, then placed in wax paper-lined, metal conditioning boxes. (3 months)

8. Selecting: culled by color, length, moisture content—the beans are sorted by quality category. (Oct - January)

9. Conditioning: the beans are packed following the different categories. For extraction, the appearance is not a key factor, more important are the moisture and vanillin content. Lastly, the beans are given a final grading and packed for shipment. (February - March) Source:

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