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About Niue Vanilla

Niue vanilla, the Tahitian strain from French Polynesia

Niue - map
Niue - map

Genetic analysis shows that this species is possibly a cultivar from a hybrid-cross of V. planifolia and V. odorata. Vanilla Tahitensis is also grown in Tahiti and the Cook Islands.

Tahitian vanilla is sweeter and fruitier and has less natural vanillin than Bourbon and Mexican vanilla. Instead, it contains heliotropin (anis aldehyde), which is unique to its species. This gives it a more cherry-like, licorice, or raisiny taste. It has a very floral fragrance, the bean is fatter and moister than Bourbon vanilla, and the Niue strain has ample seeds inside its pod.

The Tahitian strain is especially nice in fruit compotes and desserts, as well as in sauces for poultry, seafood and wild game. Tahitian vanilla has always been more expensive than Mexican and Bourbon vanillas. This is especially true now as it is less readily available.

The variety grown on Niue Island is Vanilla Tahitensis

Tahitian vanilla is the name for vanilla from French Polynesia, the V. tahitiensis strain. Genetic analysis shows that this species is possibly a cultivar from a hybrid-cross of V. planifolia and V. odorata. The variety grown on Niue Island is Vanilla Tahitensis which is also grown in Tahiti and the Cook Islands.

Tahitian vanilla is sweeter and fruitier and has less natural vanillin than Bourbon and Mexican vanilla. Instead, it contains heliotropin (anis aldehyde), which is unique to its species. This gives it a more cherry-like, licorice, or raisiny taste. It has a very floral fragrance, the bean is fatter and moister than Bourbon vanilla, and the Niue strain has ample seeds inside its pod.

Tahitian is especially nice in fruit compotes and desserts, as well as in sauces for poultry, seafood and wild game Tahitian vanilla has always been more expensive than Mexican and Bourbon vanillas. This is especially true now as it is less readily available.

Vanilla farming is at family plantation level

The small gardens, often near the family home, can be tended conveniently, while there are some larger farms that are more commercially oriented. Because of the amount of time that elapses be ween growing and selling, the farmers sell their crop to the curer and are paid at the farm gate. The curer may take up to five months to achieve a full cure and at that stage the pods are sold on the open market or to a value added producer like Koefaga.

The vanilla orchid is the only orchid that produces a fruit. A climber which is trained up support trees vanillla grows like a runner bean. These trees need to be regularly pruned to provide the vines with support and the dappled shade that vanilla needs along with the warmth and humidity of the tropics to flourish.

A cutting may take three years to produce flowers. Vanilla flowers grow in bunches, and a flower matures every day during the flowering season. Flowers last only a day and have to be hand pollinated each morning. Other than in Mexico where vanilla is understood to have originated, hand pollinating is required.

The vanilla pods take nine months to mature

The pods resemble round green beans and at this stage have no aroma. The aroma develops as the green pods are cured. They turn dark brownish-black, are gradually de-hydrated as moisture is lost and the aroma and flavour develop. The latter part of curing is under open air shady conditions. During the cure pods are handled multiple times, checked for condition and quality. When the cure is complete the moisture content is around 25 to 30% of the original weight of the pods.

All this intensive care right through the production cycle, which can take around two years makes vanilla an expensive crop to produce,. Add to this the time to get a good extraction. But there is no other way to get the quality and flavourful results.

Production of vanilla is seasonal and the Niue crop is very small by international standards. Once the main crop is harvested and cured, that is all until the next main harvest.

This is the time to have in your pantry, pods, vanilla extract and vanilla paste to deliver the 'must have' vanilla flavour and aroma year round.

The small volumes produced on Niue make vanilla quite an exclusive product, one Koefaga is proud to be part of.

While our main production is done in New Zealand, should you be fortunate enough to visit Niue, our range is also hand made on Niue and can be taken home with you.

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Email: salesblablabla@vanilla4cookingblablabla.nz
Koefaga Vanilla
PO Box 201
Motueka 7143
Nelson
NEW ZEALAND

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