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By Piero Bianchessi, Former Owner and Operator of Venui Vanilla
Goal 1 : to harvest vanilla beans as ripe as possible – just before they over-split
When : approximately 9 months after pollination – harvest twice a week
(1) A ‘sugar’ (glucovanillin) develops in the flesh of the beans during the last days of maturation
(2) This sugar is essential for the development of the vanilla aroma; fruits harvested fully ripe will have a higher concentration of vanillin.
(3) The Vanilla planifolia beans split when fully ripe, with a consequent loss in market value.
(4) The smart farmer will let the bean get as ripe as possible to reach a maximum of glucovanillin, and will be ready to harvest the bean as soon as the split appears. A bean rich in glucovanillin will develop a good amount of glucose during the curing. The glucose (a sticky, liquid sugar) will glue together the (slightly) split ends of the beans.
(1) Harvest twice a week only harvesting the ripe beans in the bundle, leaving the unripe beans on the vine to ripen fully.
(2) With one hand hold the inflorescence axis; with the other hand hold the bean close to the peduncle and lift gently.
(3) Begin curing the process as soon as possible.
(1) Do not harvest unripe beans
(2) Do not harvest sick beans
(3) Do not harvest beans growing on wilted vines
(4) Do not harvest the full bundle (raceme) of fruits when ONLY ONE bean is ripe