27 May, 2011

On the Trail of the Elusive Vanilla Bean

Yesterday, I picked up the vanilla beans from Tropic Air up at the Corozal Airstrip. $6.00 BZD to ship the beans - not a bad deal at all.

As I opened the package at home, the delicate and enticing smell of absolutely fresh vanilla began to waft its way around the kitchen - in fact, through our whole house. Not overpowering, but noticeable and very pleasant.
 Our Fresh Vanilla Beans
So, if you figure the $36.00 BZD for the beans themselves and the $6.00 BZD shipping, that makes it $42.00 BZD for the beans. To put it another way, each bean (I bought 24 beans) cost $1.75 BZD or if you still need to convert to US funds for comparison, that's $0.88 for each bean.

For a further comparison, I checked at a gourmet spices web site, a single Mexican vanilla bean (they offered Madagascar beans and Mexican beans, with the Mexican being higher quality and cost) sells for $4.75 US. At that price, my 24 beans would have cost $114.00 US. Wow! Can you say 'markup?' Sure, I knew you could.

This morning, I had to go into town for supplies and such. While I was there, I picked up a couple smallish bottles of One Barrel Rum and a Bottle of Traveler's Brandy. These will be the recipients of the vanilla beans and after a couple, three months, become our bottles of vanilla extract.
Rum and Brandy Waiting For Vanilla Beans
Once I got home, it was time to slice up the beans. I had read on a couple of cooking websites, that they recommended slicing the beans lengthwise before putting them into the bottles of spirits to help the flavor disperse to the rum and brandy.
Slicing the Beans Lengthwise
And, here we are stuffing the sliced beans into the bottles. BTW, Dianna took this series of pictures.
Stuffing the Bottles
Of course, after doing that, it was necessary to examine the product to see if it met with our approval. It did. I'm looking forward to using the extract in a few months.
Examining the Product
This is the final result of our efforts. Some mighty fine looking stuff right there. I'll tell you, after slicing those beans (even before), the smell just permeated throughout the house. What a nice smell. So much better than 'vanilla'-scented air freshener or something.
Our Finished Vanilla Extract Bottle
Just to recap where we got the beans.

Tanya (Tatian) Goleva, Manager of the De-lite Cafe in Placencia.
You can reach her at 501-629-3269 or by email at:
She sells the beans for $36.00 BZD for 24 beans, shipping within Belize on Tropic Air costs extra, depending, I'm sure on how many you buy.

An aside here... We had met Tanya some months ago when she was managing the Don Quixote Hotel in Consejo Shores (See our posting on that at ( A nice, energetic Russian girl, who along with her partner Kayo, have now moved to Placencia and are managing the De-lite Cafe.

We also found out about the Maya Mountain Research Farm, The Vanilla Project ( You can buy the orchid vines from them if you want to grow your own vanilla. I don't know if they sell just the beans. I don't know about costs, transportation, etc.

And finally, someone told us about Goss Chocolates, here in Belize. I didn't see from their website ( that they sold vanilla beans, but their chocolate definitely looked yummy. They're in Blue Crab Beach, Seine Bight, Stann Creek, Belize. You can reach them at 501-523-3544, or by email at:

Well, that's all I know for now. I'll let you know in a few months how the vanilla extract turned out. Right now, I'm all for a sandwich, then it's time to get the pool ready for the lady's swim time and later, happy hour.



Anonymous said...

Just reminding you to try your extract, should be all set now, and thanks for the blog :)

Dave Rider said...

Hi there 'anymouse'... Could this be Mary? Anyway, thanks for the reminder. We'll have to cook up something and give it a try. It's now about the color of molasses. Hopefully it will be good. Long time to wait if it isn't.