For many years Herbie has been frustrated with the inability to source a really good Vanilla Bean Paste.
Why is this so?
Most vanilla bean pastes are made up of:
- spent vanilla (that’s the organic material left over after the process of making vanilla extract)
- sugar syrup
- various thickeners
- vanilla extract in alcohol added back in for flavour.
These products contain a very small percentage of vanilla, as this image of an unnamed brand shows:
Notice how gummy the paste looks!
What really cracks Herbie up is that nearly all these products are labelled as “Pure Vanilla Bean Paste”!
So, what did Herbie do?
Due to his concerns about vanilla bean pastes, Herbie visited the Papua New Guinea Highlands in late 2016, where a number of spices are produced. As well as sourcing beautiful Bird’s Eye Chillies, Wild Sogeri Ginger and Green Chilli Powder, Herbie assisted his supplier to develop a truly rich, thick, unadulterated Vanilla Bean Paste.
A true vanilla bean paste made simply from ground up vanilla beans, sugar, water and a very small amount of lemon juice to help stabilise the paste.
As you can see, this thick paste may not pour easily, but it delivers a real vanilla hit, undiluted by other ingredients.
For more information about vanilla and many other herbs and spices, see the 800 page Spice and Herb Bible by Ian “Herbie” Hemphill with recipes by daughter Kate Hemphill.