Growing vanilla is a labour-intensive process.
Every vanilla flower must be hand pollinated using a toothpick during one critical window that lasts 24 hours every year. In Mexico where vanilla originates the Melipona bee or a hummingbird performed the pollination. In 1841 on Réunion Island 12 year old Edmond Albius invented a technique for pollinating vanilla orchids. Albius’ technique revolutionized the cultivation of vanilla and made it possible to profitably grow vanilla beans away from their native Mexico.
Nine months after pollination vanilla beans are ready for harvest after which they undergo a length preparation of blanching, sweating, drying and fermentation to bring out the vanilla flavour we know today.