“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles” – Sun Tzu
In vanilla preparation, the enemy is quick curing. Madanilla supports traditional methods and we only work with growers and producers who don’t quick cure. We don’t fear the hundreds of battles against inferior vanilla beans.
Technological progress and this human need to endlessly want things “faster” and “now” often leads to beneficial innovation, but sometimes, the effect can be wholly negative and detrimental to everyone but the person who makes the fast buck. Today, there are more and more cases of vanilla curers using quick curing to “mature” vanilla beans faster, to get that quick dollar. So what is quick curing, and why does it produce beans with inferior quality?
The major problem with quick curing is the lack of time drying and sweating naturally in the sun. We have replaced Mother Nature with an industrial oven. The reduced time in the sun inhibits enzyme production and the natural development of vanilla’s complex aroma and flavour. We’ll explain more below.
Quick curing is the process of quickly drying green vanilla in industrial ovens. Green beans aren’t sorted by hand to determine quality, thickness and length – they are roughly machine-chopped and oven dried. It is very easy for unripe, immature and low quality beans to mix with higher quality ones. The time spent drying in the sun is reduced by at least half. This process increases the risk of mold (machine sorting not as precise as experienced human curers) and it means the product doesn’t have uniform quality. You’ll pay more for an inferior product, while also contributing to unemployment. The quick curers peddle it as having no effect on quality – where have we heard that before? The benefit is only for their pocket.
Let’s compare this to traditional Madagascan hand curing methods. It takes about three to four months to cure the green vanilla. The vanilla beans are inspected and separated by hand daily, ensuring consistent size, weight, moisture, quality and the inhibition of mold. The beans are dried in the sun. At night, they are also sweated under hefty coverings to retain moisture and heat. This slow, natural process encourages the development of that intricate vanilla aroma and flavour. Curers also believe that the physical interaction with the beans helps to produce a superior bean – just like when you hand massage the cabbage in the salad, or the squid in the sushi. Foodies know what we are talking about! There really is no substitute. It is a quintessential slow food and the traditional trumps the technology.