Friday Rambles around the table.. Vanilla Beans

Well, hello.. Come in.. knock that snow off your boots and grab a pair of slippers from the basket or did you remember to bring a pair..  I have the water on for a nice big pot of tea and I have made a my favorite lemon loaf.  Would you like a fresh slice of lemon in your tea.. now is one of the few times of the year you will get that on the farm.

Its citrus season and I have been busy making all kinds of marmalade and syrups and dried fruit for future use. As well as lemon cleaner with the scraps

Sorry we missed our chat last week but with the holiday’s it just made sense to spend that extra time with family.  It’s a new year and everyone is all..  I am making all these lists and going to learn this and that.

Me.. o no.. not me.. no extra’s this year.. nope this is a “depth” year for me.. I am going to be working my current skills, increasing my depth on subjects that I already use.  While you can make the point that working those skills in-depth will create new, I can see that.. but it’s not the same as saying..

I am learning a new language or a brand new skill like knitting..  instead, I am saying.. I already shear my own sheep, this year I want to work on being a better Shearer and I want to make sure that every single thing from that shearing is used in the most productive way possible.

I don’t want more stuff or more toys for 2019… no indeed, what I want is to focus on doing things better and exploring idea’s on getting better returns on what I already have.. I think it will be a grand adventure..

2019 is my year of “adding depth” to me and my skills 🙂

Speaking of doing things at home, I had a shock this week, I got caught on something that quite surprised me sort of.. you see I am down to my last Vanilla beans. I have just started my last pint of homemade vanilla.

I could tell you that I didn’t KNOW I was low on whole vanilla beans but that would not be true, I knew that I was getting low and I had been looking for good quality beans at a reasonable price.

And I just got my hand slapped..

I should have gotten those replacement beans when I KNEW I was low.. but instead I went, I have lots and I don’t use that much vanilla in different things, and I can wait it out. and I kept using my beans, making my vanilla and watching and waiting to re-stock

Now look where I am.. down to making my last pint with the beans I have and giving the eye to the future.. wondering if and when the price will come down to the point that I can afford more..

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/vanilla-bean-shortage-madagascar-drives-up-us-prices/

Seventy-nine percent of the world’s vanilla fields are in Madagascar. A shortage there has helped drive up the cost of vanilla beans from about $11 per pound in 2011 to $193 by the end of 2016.

https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2017/06/16/527576487/our-love-of-all-natural-is-causing-a-vanilla-shortage

See I had been tracking this issue since 2017 and been keeping an eye on it.. yes I have. I  have watched those little tiny bottles of real vanilla go from 6 to 10 dollars in the store go up.. last shopping trip that tiny bottle was 63 dollars..

I can honestly say that my homemade is way.. way.. cheaper than buying it in store..

But it’s not looking any better in 2018..

2018 has seen a considerable decline in the availability of high quality vanilla beans. This is mostly due to the fact that the natural home of the vanilla bean for generations, Madagascar, the island in the Indian Ocean just off the African coastline, has suffered a succession of natural disasters since 2015.

This, in turn, has seen their production and largest export drop considerably. Formerly Madagascar exported 12,000 tonnes and 80% of the total world trade in vanilla, but with this current shortage, the bean has now rocketed to around U.S. $ 600 per kg from a normal price of U.S. $ 100-150/ kg

https://www.fft.ie/the-2018-vanilla-bean-shortage/22481

and I am Leary on what we will be getting in 2019.. because lets face it, the weather has not gotten more stable since 2016! It takes three years for the newly planted plants to start produce and its going to take a whole lot of successful crops before you are going to see the price coming down.. maybe there will be lower prices by 2021.. maybe..

I will not be paying the current prices.. it’s just not going to happen.. At the age of 46, I am honestly looking at those whole vanilla beans in my jar of good vodka and it crossing my mind that this might be last “real” vanilla that I make or will use.

I hope I am wrong.. but at what price point does that whole vanilla bean need to come down to before I am willing to spend my hard-earned money on a pound of it to stock up into the pantry..

And what am I going to use to replace it with.. I do not want “fake” in the house.. so where does that leave me..

How about you? Got a stock pile.. going to just buy in little bottles because “you” can afford 63 dollars for 3 oz of the real stuff..  or got a stock pile in your pantry and got your eye on it.. or are you waiting for it to come down.. and if so to what to stock pile a pound or a kilo of it..

How many more of these will be coming.. o we have been so spoiled with our global trading.. we have forgotten that spices and flavourings had such value that they were kept under lock and key.

I think I am going to find this happening more and more in 2019 to be honest, I am watching my pantry stock ups and watching prices on other things in the stores and I am not sure if all of them will be restocked or I will need to find a work around.

hmm, what could be used as a work around?

Well, for chocolate items or spice cakes that vanilla is not a taste but a depth to the item, it can be replaced 1 to 1 with maple syrup.

But what about when you want that vanilla scent and flavour? Thank goodness for sweet woodruff, while it’s not the same.. its close enough and going to be my work around for the near future and its off-market because its grown here on the farm.

https://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/sweet-woodruff-herb-garden-zmaz84zloeck

Be that as it may, this charming little herb can be a vanilla substitute in various sauces and beverages.

Marilyn Hampstead, whose Fox Hill Farm is one source of Asperula plants, reports that sweet woodruff can be steeped in milk — overnight or for several days — to make a refreshing drink that’s especially enjoyed by children … or, to impart a vanilla taste, soaked in whatever liquid is required in a given recipe … or, to make a delicious glaze for tarts and turnovers, steeped in currant juice and strained out before the juice is thickened by cooking with sugar.

I have this plant on the farm and I will need to increase the amount grown and learn to work with it in the coming year, figuring out the challenge of how much to grow and how much to put up for storage.

Ah, climate change, you are going to take that which we think is common in many ways and turn it on its head! Not always because something is truly gone but because it will just be out of the reach of the common person.

We will need to look back to history before global trade became the norm and we will need to adapt or go without.

I never would have guessed that vanilla would be my first “out priced” item due to climate issues..

So be it.. so be it…

 

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5 Responses to Friday Rambles around the table.. Vanilla Beans

  1. Silveryew says:

    I hadn’t realised vanilla had become so expensive!
    We do a similar thing in baked goods back home whose recipes call for saffron to give the finished pieces a nice yellow colour. Back home this is a hugely expensive ingredient, so many use turmeric instead. It’s like you say, either adapt or go without.

    • I am truly hoping the price will go back down but I am not going to count on it. That’s good information about the saffron.. I called my mom and said, what did they do in the old days and she just laughed and said, we didn’t use it.. check your old cookbooks daughter.. not a cake or pudding or more that asked for vanilla because it was just not had.

      Hubby and I had a fairly long chat last night on what price point where we willing to buy vanilla beans at again and if we were willing to look at other counties and qualities.. was B grade something we wanted to consider etc.

  2. valbjerke says:

    Like you, I usually make my own – and no I’m not going to pay the current price either. However, Mexican vanilla is (to me anyway) a very acceptable alternative. Honest I have no idea the price – it’s not a available here – but my daughter brings it back when she vacations down there, as does my old boss (so I’m spoiled). If you know anybody that travels there, you might ask if they would bring some back. 😊

    • Thanks for the tip Valb.. I had read that Mexico was going to be coming online as a bigger producer but did wonder about the quality.. so nice to get a personal recommend. I do not have anyone I know that regular travels down there but I will keep a ear out and see if I can track a supplier down for a more reasonable price 🙂 I really do love my homemade

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