Indonesian Vanilla Beans
Indonesia is a country located in South East Asia between the Indian and Pacific Oceans that exports Indonesian vanilla beans. It is the world’s largest island country with more than 17,000 islands, with the most populated island being Java. Indonesia lies along the equator on lands that are highly volcanic; this makes its climate and topography ideal for growing vanilla orchid plants. About 1/3 of the total cured vanilla beans sold worldwide comes from Indonesia. [Wikipedia and Hand book of Vanilla Science and Technology /pg-215].
Crops can vary widely, so it’s important to source your beans from a trusted source. Indonesian vanilla beans are often noted for their smoky and tobacco flavor notes. Experts suggest that this reflects the curing process in Indonesian where beans can spend long periods of time drying in the sun.
About Indonesian Vanilla Bean Farmers
These insights on Indonesian vanilla bean farmers is from Patrica Rain [Vanilla, the Cultural History of the World’s Favorite Flavor and Fragrance/ pg-199]. She paints a picture of the remote, lonely and scary existence of the Indonesian Vanilla Bean Farmer:
[Indonesian] Vanilla plantations are small with farmers tending their own individual plots. Because of theft, it is common to build small huts and lean-tos in their fields, and to sleep in the huts, machetes by their sides, from the time when the beans appear until the vanilla is ready to harvest. Usually these huts are within walking distance of their homes in the village. Additionally, families have guard dogs on their property to alert them to potential robbers.
When you buy Indonesian vanilla beans, you are supporting the Indonesian economy and farmers as described here. When the quality is outstanding, I source Indonesian vanilla beans and incorporate them into my bean blend for batches of Manion’s Vanilla.
Indonesia is thought to be at severe risk by Climatologists. Global warming trends show that a rise of 1 degree C by mid century would result in an explosion of scorching days by mid century. This would impact wet and dry seasons, which directly impact vanilla bean crops. Just think about how weather patterns in tropical lands far from America may someday directly impact our ability to source quality vanilla beans in order to make the world’s favorite flavor and fragrance!