These pods are kept on the vine a little longer, until they split, before being picked and matured a little longer which allows vanillin crystals to form - highly desirable and an indication of the quality of the pod. The crystals should be used with the pod and the seeds in the usual way. With hints of spice and caramel, the world's only Fairtrade vanilla, grown in the Ndali volcanic field in western Uganda produces some of the very best vanilla in the world. The world's only Fairtrade vanilla, grown in the Ndali volcanic field in western Uganda to produce some of the very best pesticide, herbicide and artificial fertiliser-free vanilla in the world. Vanilla grows best in small-scale agro-forestry, it takes considerable time and care to produce the beans. Vanilla flowers the world-over are pollinated by hand to ensure a good crop since the very specific pollinating insects are not numerous enough to ensure this. So, the famers must be on-hand within 8 hours of the flower opening to perform the delicate operation. After pollination, the beans then take 9 to 11 months to be ready for harvest at which point they are still green. The next stage of vanilla production is to cure the green beans. This is a lengthy (3-6 month) process where the beans are blanched in hot water, sweated in woollen blankets and exposed to hot sunshine repeatedly to allow the vanillin flavour to develop. At this point, the young vanilla pod as you would recognise is ready, although, before shipping, the beans are matured for even better flavour which, like wine, develops with time in the right conditions. Exceptional vanilla has white crystals of vanilla visible on the surface of the pod.
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