Vanilla grows as a vine, climbing up an existing tree. The vanilla bean grows quickly but is not ready for harvest until maturity, which takes approximately ten months.
Pale yellow discoloration that begins at the end of the beans furthest away on the vine is an indication of the maturity of pods.
Harvesting vanilla beans is just as labour intensive as this burgeoning phase. Each bean ripens in its own time, which means a daily harvest for the farmer.
To ensure the finest flavour, every bean must be picked by hand just as it begins to split on the end.
The success of a vanilla bean yield depends on the care and management given to these hanging and fruiting vines.
Now that you know a little more about this intricate process, you may want to read about one of our customers. Gourmet Gardens grows vanilla in the Congo.