Grade A Organic Vanilla from Tonga

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Organic Vanilla beans
from Vava'u Tonga

To purchase Tongan Vanilla Beans contact: for information

The Guttenbeil family of Vava'u, Tonga, has been harvesting and curing organic vanilla for 20 years. Their vanilla is the only organic vanilla produced in Tonga. It is the very best grade A vanilla, winning prizes in Tonga and Europe. They take special pride in their own careful curing process developed over time to produce the best grade A vanilla bean. They harvest the vine-ripened beans at just the right moment to get plump, smooth beans ready for curing.

The first vanilla plant was brought to Tonga about 100 years ago; it was brought by cuttings from Union Island and planted at 'Utungake in Vava'u where most Tonga vanilla is grown.

Vanilla is a native of Mexico and is the only edible fruit of the orchid family, the largest family of flowering plants in the world. This tropical orchid, is one of about 150 varieties of vanilla, though only two types -- Bourbon and Tahitian -- are used commercially. Before Europeans discovered America, it was used for flavouring a beverage (drink) based of Cocoa Beans reserved for the Aztec Emperor. It was a product of great rarity collected from forests when matured and dried.

Until the late 19th century, Mexico had the monopoly on growing vanilla, but now Madagascar and Indonesia grow the majority of the world's crop. Additional countries that grow vanilla include Guatemala, Costa Rica, Uganda, China, India, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Fiji, Tahiti, and the Philippines.

Vanilla is the world's most labour-intensive agricultural crop, which is why it's so expensive. Vanilla was not cultivated commercially until the discovery of a method of manual pollination by Edmond Albus in 1841. It can take up to three years after the vines are planted before the first flowers appear. The fruits, which resemble big green beans, must remain on the vine for nine months in order to completely develop their signature aroma. However, when the beans are harvested, they have neither flavour nor fragrance. They develop these distinctive properties during the curing process.

The natural vanilla is used mostly in ice creams, yoghurt (fresh and frozen), and other flavoured dairy products, confectionary, and medicine. The soft drink industry has also discovered the benefits of the Vanilla flavour. Throughout the world vanilla cured beans are increasingly being used by chefs in restaurants and in home cooking to flavour cream, also in custard, pastry, and fruit salad. These beans are sold individually or in small lots so the quality of vanilla is very important.

Vanilla is not only used as a flavour in foods and beverages, but also in perfumes. It's also used in many industrial applications such as a flavouring for medicines and as a fragrance to conceal the strong smell of rubber tires, paint, and cleaning products. The dairy industry uses a large percentage of the world's vanilla in ice cream. Despite all the wonderful ice cream flavours available in the market place, most customers still choose "Vanilla!"



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