I'm just back from Maui where I enjoyed some time helping Sinead with the farm tour we do there. Vanilla beans were just harvested about a month ago and they are curing nicely. Ashen, our orchard manager has kept a watchful eye on them as they are highly susceptible to mold at this stage.
I wish we had smell-o-vision on the computer and I could share the intoxicating aroma . This years crop is pretty decent in yield and bean length, a testimony to improved culture of the vines themselves and the attention to hand pollinating which must be done everyday throughout the flowering period, in the wee hours of the morning. Pollination party anyone? Once the moisture content reduces to about 30% the beans will be stored in a wooden curing box for approx 4 months to further develop flavor. What a long process from flowering to ripe pods (approx 6 months, the initial kill and sweat process, about 3 weeks, further sun & shade drying, (another month) the curing (4 months). We will probably make the first Maui Vanilla extract with these which means another 4 -6 mo.Patience !
Inspired by Chaco Canyon, Cacao Santa Fe has released a Chaco Pottery Shard collection of chocolate truffles with local and wild harvested fruits, berries, nuts, and spices in addition to its bean to bar chocolate.