The Magic of an Orchid

Vanilla, the “queen of spices”, has a long history of adventure and magic. Legend has it that the Aztec emperor Montezuma welcomed the conquistador Hernan Cortez with xocolatl, a vanilla flavored chocolate drink, served in golden cups. The tale begins during the Mayas and Aztecs era, after which vanilla was introduced to Europe, Bourbon Island (now called Reunion), and finally to Madagascar where it has flourished for over 180 years.

Originally pollinated by a bee (the Melipona bee) indigeneous to Mexico, the hand pollination of the vanilla orchid was discovered around 1815, and this delicate operation is still nowadays applied on each flower to produce the fruit. Similar to a large green bean, it grows in bunches on the vine. It is harvested when ripe and then matured through a long curing process: from blanching to sweating where the beans turn from green to brown. During the following stages of sorting and drying over several months, a subtle enzymatic fermentation will develop countless aromatic molecules to produce the complex fragrance that we know so well. Six months are needed to transform six kilos of green pods into one kilo of dark brown pods, ready for use.

PROVA sources its finest vanilla beans from protected plantations in Madagascar and Tahiti, which provide outstanding flavourings.