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FAQ

Getting to Know Vanilla

What is vanilla anyway?

Vanilla is the fruit of the world’s only fruit-bearing orchid called Vanilla plantifolia.  It’s been used as a natural flavoring in Europe since the 17th century.  Now it is one of the most popular plant-derived flavors in the world.

Vanilla Beans with Orchids

Bean vs extract – how are they different?

Vanilla beans are vanilla in its purest form with natural nutrients including vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and much more.  Vanilla extract, on the other hand, is an artificial flavoring often with additives like alcohol and sugar.

What are the health benefits of natural vanilla?

Besides its mood-lifting aroma, studies show that natural vanilla contains a variety of nutrients and antioxidants that bring in loads of health benefits to our bodies. To name a few, it helps reverse skin damage, promote hair growth, lowers bad cholesterol, calm an upset stomach, alleviate anxiety, and support better sleep.

Why is the price of natural vanilla so high?

Vanilla only grows naturally within the 20-degree band either side of the Equator.  Besides being one of the world’s most sought-after natural flavorings, natural vanilla is expensive because growing and harvesting the plant is extremely labor-intensive.  Vanilla takes 3 years to grow.  Each flower is hand-pollinated, and each bean handpicked and cured for weeks after harvesting to intensify the aroma before they can go to market.

Vanilla-Hand-Pollination

How do I choose the best vanilla beans?

There are two major differentiators: moisture content and appearance.

Organic Vanilla Caviar

Grade A vanilla beans are often referred to as ‘gourmet’ or ‘prime’ vanilla beans. They are dark and pliable with 25% – 35% moisture content, which allows the flavor and aroma to seep into food and beverages quickly.

Grade B or ‘extraction grade’ vanilla beans only have about 20% moisture content. Since they are too dry to scrape the caviar out, they are mainly mixed with other ingredients to make vanilla extract.

Organic Vanilla Beans by A1 Vanilla

What grade are A1 Vanilla’s vanilla beans?

All our hand-selected organic vanilla beans are Grade A1 and best in its class.  They come with over 30% moisture content and a bold, creamy-sweet and chocolatey flavor profile that’s unique to Ugandan vanilla beans.

Best organic vanilla beans in Hong Kong

Where are A1 Vanilla’s vanilla beans grown?

Our vanilla beans are organically and sustainably grown in western Uganda.

How are A1 Vanilla’s vanilla beans different?

Owing to the climate, soil, curing method and species, our Ugandan organic vanilla beans are known for their creamy flavor and aroma with a unique milk chocolate sweetness.

How does A1 Vanilla support organic famers?

We purchase direct from small-scale rural organic farmers in western Uganda to increase their income, enabling them to sufficiently support their families, and create employment opportunities for their fellow villagers.  This also encourages them to continue to keep their land free of chemicals to reduce soil erosion, and helps lower groundwater pollution to preserve the environment.

Vanilla-Farmer-in-Uganda

Which pack size should I buy?

We recommend you buy the vanilla that is sufficient for 6 months’ consumption. This way you can ensure the freshness of the organic vanilla beans, and enjoy a lower price offered for a larger pack size.

What is the brown liquid in the package?

You may see some brown liquid in the package.  It is simply oil that has been squeezed out of the organic vanilla beans as they were vacuum packed.  It is totally safe and natural so no need to worry.

How to Use Organic Vanilla Beans

How do I convert vanilla bean to extract?

One 15cm vanilla bean equates to 3 teaspoons of vanilla extract, which means a 1/3 bean equates to around 3 teaspoons of extract.

15cm organic vanilla bean

How do I scrape a vanilla bean?

It is very simple!  Just use the tip of a knife to cut the bean lengthwise, then scrape the caviar loose from the pod.  Watch this short video for a quick demo.

Do I need to wash vanilla beans?

We don’t.  But if you feel the need to wash yours before use, just rinse them quickly in running water and dry them with a clean paper towel.

What do I do with the pods?

You can follow our easy recipes and use them to make homemade vanilla syrup or vanilla sauce, or cut them up and stick them in sugar to make vanilla sugar.

Homemade Vanilla Sugar

How to Store Organic Vanilla Beans

How long can vanilla beans be stored?

When put in an airtight container, organic vanilla beans can be stored for as long as 18 months.  We recommend that you remove the beans from the container to circulate the air for 10 minutes every 2 months.

What is the proper way to store them?

Storing your organic vanilla beans in a cool, dry place away from heat and sunlight help keep them in optimum condition.  NEVER put them in the fridge as refrigeration will dry them out, and excess moisture can make them moldy.

Can dried-out vanilla beans be used?

The answer is yes!  You can easily rehydrate them by putting them in hot (not boiling) water or milk and let them sit about 10 minutes until soften.  Or you can toss them in sugar to make an aromatic jar of homemade vanilla sugar.

There are white spots on my vanilla beans. Are they molds?

If they appear shiny and crystalline, they are vanillin, an organic compound naturally developed on high quality vanilla beans.  But if they are fluffy and cottony, they are molds and the beans can no longer be used.

Delivery and Returns

How long does it take for my order to be delivered?

It usually takes no more than 4 working days until you receive your order via SF Express.  Free delivery service within Hong Kong is available when you purchase $250 or more.

If I don’t like the product, can I return it?

We want you to feel perfectly happy with your organic vanilla beans.  That’s why we offer a 30-day return policy on all orders.  You can initiate a return or exchange up to 30 days from the date of purchase.  Simply email us at hello@a1vanilla.com and we will take care of it right away.