New Caledonia: Cultivation of Exceptional Vanilla
New Caledonia has a special place in our heart because this beautiful island is where we source the world-famous vanilla pods and flowery honey. The vanilla, for example, is of such exceptional grading that even Michelin-restaurants in Singapore partner with us to feature it in their dessert creations! So you can tell that we only offer you the finest standards of vanilla in our online shop. But how much do you know about New Caledonia and why does this island in the South Pacific offer such a diverse range of natural foods?
New Caledonia is a French territory that comprises of a dozen islands and its capital is Noumea. It is world renowned for its sandy beaches lined with palm trees that sway gently in the wind and a lagoon that’s teeming with marine life. Incidentally, the lagoon is the world’s largest which also means it is a haven for scuba diving enthusiasts! And here’s the best part: because of its relative seclusion and efforts put in to ensure protection of its flora and fauna, much of the biodiversity on the island remains natural and pure. Evidently, this is why we insist on sourcing our vanilla pods and honey from New Caledonia!
Take for instance, Vanilla. It was introduced on the island of Lifou in 1860 by Pastor Marc Fariane from Madagascar. However, it was only until 1980 that real cultivation efforts were undertaken to turn it into the thriving industry that we know of today. Typically, it takes at least 3 years for the vanilla plant start producing and after the annual flowering, the beans reach maturity in about 9 months before being harvested by hand with extreme care because this critical stage determines the eventual quality of the pod. We are impressed by this extra attention to harvesting the plant because vanilla is delicate and how it’s being cultivated (by hand or by machine) could make a difference in the subtlety of its taste. Most importantly, the islands on which the vanilla is cultivated are free from agricultural diseases and the farmers do not use any pesticides or fertilisers. In their place, natural compost made of coconut and vegetables are used instead.
Find all the unique flavours and fragrances of our vanilla at established cafes and restaurants today. You can also visit https://thefrenchgrocer.com/shop/vanilla for the complete experience: available in pods, extracts, pastes and powders.