Making Vanilla

The vanilla making process is a long and labour-intensive technique that requires years of experience to perfect the art of turning green vanilla beans into fragrant black ones. Over 80% of the world's total vanilla production comes from the north-east of Madagascar in the SAVA region (Sambava - Antalaha - Vohemar - Andapa).

Tired of seeing wholesalers and exporters taking advantage of local farmers and producers by pressuring them on price, Madanilla was created to cut them out of the process and bring vanilla to consumers directly. This means a fairer price for the local communities, who often rely on vanilla preparation as their sole source of income for the year, as well as a lower price to the consumers/customers. Everybody benefits. And this is how it's done!

Vanilla plants need 8 to 9 months to grow and come to maturity from September/October. Each vanilla orchid flower has to be pollinated by hand, one by one, in order to produce the bean or pod. This time-consuming and very labour-intensive work is one of the main reasons why vanilla is today the second most expensive spice in the world (after saffron). When the green beans come to maturity, they are hand-picked in May/June by the local growers and thus starts the vanilla curing process.


SAVA region, in red. Source: Sadalmelik, Wikimedia Commons

Step 1

Harvesting the green vanilla. It takes 6 kilograms of green vanilla to make one kilogram of black vanilla.


Step 2

Soak the green vanilla in warm water at around 60 degrees for 3 minutes


Step 3

Leave it to rest under confined cover for 48 hours to blacken the vanilla


Step 4

After 48 hours, sort and remove the bad beans

Step 5

Dry the vanilla in the sun for 2 to 3 weeks


Step 6

Manually sort the black vanilla by length, quality, cuts


Step 7

Dry the black vanilla on clay racks in a well-ventilated warehouse


Step 8

Sort the black vanilla again by length, category, and quality... and we are now ready for export