Vanilla History

Vanilla History

Discovering Vanilla

Fernando Cortez arrived on April 22, 1519 off the coast of Veracruz. His squadron has about 600 men.
Arrived on the ground, he goes to the city of Tenochtitlan or sits King Moctezuma.
When Moctezuma sees Cortez, he imagines that this one is none other than the priest king, Quetzalcoatl.

If Moctuzema and his lunar calendar had not had this doubt, the Spaniards would have been quickly ousted by the Totonac warriors.

The Spaniards are immediately attracted by the Aztec Cocoa and especially, these exceptional pods with this extraordinary perfume: The Vanilla.

Charles V will have the privilege of being the first king in Europe to taste this vanilla-based drink.

We are immediately interested in this new fragrance, this aromatic, and from the beginning of the 17th century, we find vanilla in the kitchen of the European courts.

The Totonacs were careful not to explain the secret of vanilla.

European botanists did not understand why this orchid did not give fruit on the lands of Overseas France.

For more than two centuries after its discovery by Cortez, Mexico retained the monopoly of Vanilla production.

Vanillier in addition to Sea and Implantation of cuttings in Reunion

In the 1700s, Guadeloupe, Martinique and Guyana already have vanilla trees listed on their soil.
Species like vanilla pompona or vanilla fragrans derivatives were already present before the implantation in number by the colonists and botanists of the kingdom of France.
In the region of the Wayampis tribes, in French Guiana, many scented vanilla species were used to make necklaces.

With the help of the Governor of Cayenne, Pierre Henri Philibert, a native of Reunion Island, naval officer and captain of the ship, brings back on his island many species of vanilla.
These cuttings his plantation issue of Guyana but also many countries where he made a stopover with his sailors.
On a second trip, he also brought back plants from the Philippines, specifically from the region of Calabarzon.

David de Floris, brought back from his ship some cuttings from the claws of the head of the King's Garden.
He became a vanilla producer on his return and devoted his life to this spice. Thanks to him, the preparation of the vanilla was significantly improved.
Today his family continues this know-how on the island of Reunion.

First fertilization of vanilla

If the Melipus bee fertilizes vanilla in Mexico, it is not present on Bourbon Island.
The hummingbird, the bird fly, can sometimes help the fertilization of some pods.

It is Edmond Albius, at 12, who in Reunion Island discovered in 1841 the process to fertilize a vanilla flower.
The surname Albius was given to him at the abolition of slavery, with reference to the white color of the flower (Alba in Latin).

Thanks to its technique of pollination the development of vanilla could be set up on the island of Reunion.

To carry out the fertilization, only the manual technique is a guarantee.

Each vanilla flower giving birth to a pod that will have to leave 8 to 10 months depending on the species on the vanilla.

Today, the technique discovered by Edmond Albius remains the reference technique for fertilizing each vanilla flower around the world.

Madagascar and Réunion - Development of Bourbon Vanilla

The development of vanilla was all the more important, once Ernest Loupy, a vanilla producer in Réunion, invented the technique of scalding.

This technique consists in putting the green vanilla in full maturity in a hot water bath between 65 and 70 ° C for 3 minutes.

The goal is to stop the enzymatic development of the pod and thus "kill" the pod (producers' lingo).

The result is a parboiling in crates, rolled in canvases so that the pods can keep the heat and lose as much water as possible.

After this stage, alternating on jutes in the sun and shadows in the shade will allow our vanilla pods to develop their aromatic intensity.


Madagascar and Reunion, enjoys rich soils and ideal temperature for growing vanilla.

Reunion Island has various volcanic soils that are very rich in nutrients for the proper development of vanilla.
The best-known regions for vanilla growing in Reunion are those of Saint Philippe and Saint Suzanne.


It is from 1870, that the first cuttings and refining techniques arrived and were taught in Madagascar.
Northeast of the island, the SAVA (Sambava-Andapa-Vohémar-Anatalaha) is the region par excellence of vanilla.
Soils rich in organic matter and hot and humid temperatures are ideal for its good development.

Also, vanilla yields from Andapa (Ankaibé region) are better than other areas.
This confined area, a few hours drive from Sambava, produces exceptional vanilla pods and yields per hectare more advantageous.


Nowadays, 80% of the vanilla produced in the world is Bourbon vanilla from Madagascar.

Posted on 2019-01-08 by Vanillevanille Free Resources 0 185

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