24 May, 2011

Vanilla Beans And One Barrel

Something that I didn't know is that vanilla comes from an orchid originally native to  Mexico and Belize. Vanilla comes from from the Spanish word "vainilla", which means little pod. The Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés is supposed to have introduced vanilla and chocolate to Europe.

Vanilla is right behind saffron as the most expensive spice, partly due to the labor required to grow the seed pods.

Cultivation of vanilla vines was pretty much impossible until a 12-year old slave on Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean figured out the plant could be hand pollinated, thus allowing vanilla to be grown just about everywhere.

You can find more about vanilla at ( Also, just Google 'vanilla' for recipes and even more information.

And now, you're probably asking yourself, "Why have I written this little bit about vanilla?"

Well, Here's why. I mentioned previously about some cooking shows on the tube that Dianna and I have been watching. Michael Smith, the host of Chef at Home, has a home-made bottle of vanilla extract that he uses liberally a lot of the time. It really intrigued us. So, we thought we might create our own bottle of vanilla extract, using One Barrel rum as the base, if we could find a local and relatively inexpensive source for vanilla beans.

I put a message out on the local email Friendship Listing, and surprisingly, within about two days, got an answer from Tanya (Tatian) Goleva, Manager of the Delite Cafe, who said (over the course of two or three emails), that she was located in Placencia; that they had Belize grown vanilla beans for sale for 2-dozen beans for $36.00 BZD; and that they also had fresh, strong black pepper, also locally grown for a small 4 oz. pack for $6.00 BZD, or loose pepper for $20.00 BZD a pound.

The way you complete payment is to deposit the required money to their bank account and then she will put the beans/pepper on Tropic Air for shipment, in our case, to Corozal. All we have to do then is go to the airport, pay the shipping (probably $6 - $10.00 BZD) and we then have 24 fresh, locally-grown vanilla beans in our grubby little mitts.

If you're not familiar with this process, this is the common way for business transactions to be conducted all over Belize. Sometimes using either Tropic or Maya airlines or by BPMS package delivery (a sort of UPS-like service within Belize), or even using the various bus lines to get purchased goods where they need to go.

You can reach Tanya at:, or by phone at 501-629-3269.

A couple of days after the emails from Tanya, I got another email from Alan & Ondina in Consejo Shores recommending I try the folks at the Maya Mountain Research Farm, The Vanilla Project ( They got a couple of vanilla vines from the Vanilla Project that they're growing in pots.

Just this morning, I deposited my money to the bank, so now I'm waiting to hear back from Tanya as to what flight the beans should be arriving on. I'll have to get a bottle of One Barrel primed and ready to go. After I get the beans, I'll post a photo or two, showing the beans and then the beans in the One Barrel. Should be yummy!


James L. Voris said...

I am looking forward to my arrival to sample this culinary delight as I LOVE the possible combination of the maple-ly flavor of the One barrel mixed with the vanilla. Yummy! I think I will be hulling back come "special vanilla"

Dave Rider said...

Hi Jim,

Not sure the vanilla extract will be ready when you're here. It apparently takes a few months soaking in the rum.
However, we'll make sure you've got a bottle to take back with you.