FAQ

How should I store my vanilla beans?


Please store your vanilla beans in a cool, dry place. Keep them away from heat sources, like stoves and ovens to prevent them from drying out. In addition, avoid areas of excess humidity to prevent molding. Finally, do NOT store beans in the refrigerator or freezer. This will damage them.




What is the ratio of vanilla beans to alcohol when making extract?


According to FDA standards, you need 13.35 ounces of vanilla beans per gallon of a 35% alcohol solution. In simpler terms, this is equivalent to 1 gram of vanilla beans per 10 mL of alcohol. So, you would need 75 grams of vanilla for a 750 mL bottle of alcohol. Vodka that is 80 proof contains 40% alcohol by volume, which makes it a great choice for a base for your vanilla extract. Visit this blog post for a step-by-step video on how to make your own vanilla extract.




Can I use any type of alcohol to make vanilla extract?


You need an alcohol that has at least 35% alcohol by volume in order to make extract. We highly recommend that you use vodka because of its neutral flavor. However, you could also use bourbon, rum, brandy, tequila, or even mezcal.




How long do vanilla beans last?


Vanilla beans are best if used within one year of purchase. However, if your beans dry out, you could always grind them up to make vanilla powder or add them to your sugar for an extra hint of flavor.




Are your vanilla beans organic?


Our vanilla beans are not certified organic. However, our growers attempt to use organic compost and practice bioforestry whenever possible.




How is the vanilla packed?


Your vanilla beans will come in vacuum-sealed plastic to maintain their freshness. Our extract and gourmet grade beans will also come inside a resealable kraft paper envelope. Vanilla extract is bottled in amber glass bottles.




What shipping materials do you use?


Your vacuum-packed vanilla beans will be shipped in a water resistant poly bubble mailer.




Why is Mexican vanilla so expensive?


There are several reasons why Mexican vanilla tends to be more expensive than vanilla from other countries. 1) Mexican vanilla is very scarce due to farmers not being paid fair prices by large companies or middlemen. As a result, many farmers turn to other more profitable crops like corn. 2) Mexican vanilla beans are still grown and cured using traditional methods unlike in other countries like Indonesia and Madagascar. This means that each bean is sundried rather than baked in industrial ovens in order to achieve maximum aroma and flavor. 3) Mexico is the birthplace of vanilla and in the past has benefitted from the perfect growing conditions for the plant -- sunlight to shade ratio, humidity, altitude and rainfall. However, in recent years due to climate change, Mexican vanilla farmers have struggled greatly with their crops due to excess heat and rainfall damaging entire lots.




Can I buy in wholesale quantities?


Yes, please contact us directly at info@voladoresvanilla.com. Let us know what amount and type of vanilla you are interested in purchasing.




What if I have more questions?


We'd love to hear from you! Please send an email to info@voladoresvanilla.com and let us know how we can help you.




How can I guarantee that this vanilla is grown in Mexico?


This is a question we feel passionate about because we have noticed an increase in companies claiming to sell "Mexican vanilla" for much cheaper than the actual market price without providing any proof that it is indeed true Mexican vanilla. While there is currently no official certifications of this type, we attempt to photograph ourselves with our vanilla partners during each of our trips to ensure that the product you are getting is grown and cured in Mexico. We visit their vanilla farms in person and have even worked alongside them. Please visit the "Our Vanilla Partners" page to find out more.




What variety of vanilla beans do you sell?


Our extract, gourmet, premium, and vanilla pieces are vanilla planifolia. Our pure vanilla extract is also made with vanilla planifolia. We occassionally sell vanilla pompona too. You can check out our shop to see if it is available.




Do you accept returns?


Since this is a food product, we unfortunately cannot accept returns. However, if you are unhappy with your purchase, please contact us directly at info@voladoresvanilla.com.




What is the difference between extract, gourmet, and premium beans?


Extract grade beans have less moisture content and often times a blemish or two. They are recommended for use in making vanilla extract although they can occassionally be added to other liquids. Gourmet grade beans have great moisture content, no blemishes, and are extremely pliable. They contain more vanilla seeds (AKA caviar) than extract grade and are recommended for use in recipes like cakes, cookies, ice creams, etc. Premium grade beans are longer, fatter, and contain even more vanilla caviar than our gourmet grade beans. We like to call these chef grade beans because they are super plump and would be great in any recipe where you want to showcase vanilla. We also recommend these beans to give as gifts to friends and family who like to bake.




What makes Mexican vanilla different from other varieties?


Mexico is the birthplace of vanilla and as such has the perfect soil and growing conditions for the plant to flourish. Similar to wine, vanilla fruit can also have terroir meaning that the final product has a distinct taste and aroma based on the soil composition, sun exposure, climate, altitude, rainfall, etc. In fact like tequila, champagne, or Parmesan, "Vanilla from Papantla" has a designation of origin (DO) that protects the mature fruit of the orchid and several subspecies. Thirty nine munipalities in the states of Veracruz and Puebla are included in this recognition.




I've read that Mexican vanilla is smokey and spicey. Is this true?


Somewhere along the line someone described Mexican vanilla as "smokey and spicey" and since then, many websites and vanilla sellers have adopted this description. Unfortunately, this couldn't be further from the truth. Anyone who has worked with Mexican vanilla will know that it can have a myriad of aromas and flavors. In fact, each of our vanilla partners' crops have their own unique smell and this can even change from season to season. We have had some crops that smell like dark chocolate and others that give off a buttery marshmallow perfume.




How many times a year is vanilla harvested?


Vanilla is harvested only ONE time per year! In Mexico, vanilla orchids begin to flower in April and May. They are hand-pollinated during this very short season. Then, the vanilla beans grow and are left on the vine for 8-9 months to achieve full maturity. In late November-January, the green vanilla pods are harvested. Finally, the beans undergo the curing process which lasts from December through March. We usually receive new shipments of vanilla in March-May. Beware of any seller who claims that they get shipments of "fresh vanilla" on a recurrent basis. This is misleading propaganda as vanilla from any country is picked only ONCE each year.




Do you use artificial or natural flavors in your vanilla extract?


Absolutely not! We believe that our vanilla extract does not need to be altered with any misleading flavorings. Not only does synthetic vanillin mask the incredible nuaces of true vanilla, but it also made using questionable processes and ingredients, such as wood pulp, coal tar, cow feces, clove oil, and pine bark. Read about it here.




Do you sell clear vanilla extract?


No, pure vanilla extract is always dark brown in color because of the oils that come from the vanilla bean. Please know that any vanilla extract that is transparent is NOT the real deal. It is likely glycerin or alcohol flavored with synthetic vanillin.




Are there any added sugars in your pure vanilla extract?


No, our extract is made with only two ingredients: whole vanilla beans and alcohol.