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Behind the Seasoning: Ugandan Vanilla Beans

Behind the Seasoning: Ugandan Vanilla Beans
Our Ugandan Vanilla Beans are Grade A, which means they are premium quality. These beans are plump, pliable, succulent, and flavorful. The purchase of these beans supports local farmers in Kampala, Uganda. With a higher-than-average vanillin content, they are suited to a variety of applications. But what makes these beans special? It's more than just the decadent flavor.

Sure, these beans taste good, but they also do good! These beans are sourced from Kampala, Uganda, and support the growth and stability of the local economy, employing Ugandan workers. Many of these workers are women, and some are the family's sole breadwinners. Our Ugandan Vanilla partner ensures that these workers are paid fair wages and can support their families.

What Are Ugandan Vanilla Beans?

Like most vanilla beans from Madagascar, these are "bourbon" vanilla beans. No, bourbon doesn't have anything to do with alcohol in this case; it's an outdated reference to the Bourbon islands (now called Réunion), where these prized vanilla orchids were initially cultivated. Also called Vanilla Planifolia or V. planifolia, these orchids produce most of the world's vanilla flavor. So the reference to Ugandan Vanilla or Madagascar simply reflects where the plant is grown, not that it is a specific or different type of vanilla. (TLDR: Ugandan Vanilla and Madagascar Vanilla come from the same plant.)

Unlike Madagascar, Uganda is landlocked. This geographic distinction means that Uganda is not impacted by many other natural disasters that can affect vanilla production in other parts of the world. Over time, the expectation is that Ugandan vanilla plants will continue to mature and have a reliable, sustainable harvest. In fact, Uganda is unique in that they actually have two harvest seasons per year instead of just one. This means that the beans are generally fresher, and the growing season is more reliable.

What is special about Ugandan Vanilla Beans?

Our Uganda vanilla bean supplier works directly with partners in Kampala, Uganda, who employ locals to build a sustainable economy and provide fair wages. The beans come from over 700 farmers who are trained to meet international standards and who are compensated fairly. They are then processed by local workers who hand-cure the beans over three months, working to ensure the integrity and quality of the product. This team hopes to grow enough to purchase a dedicated facility (instead of continuing to rent) and have the capacity to cure even more of these premium vanilla beans.

What Does Ugandan Vanilla Taste Like?

Ugandan "Bourbon" vanilla has a bold vanilla aroma but also has strong notes of cocoa. The flavor of Ugandan Vanilla can be described as sweet and creamy hints of dried fruit and very subtle milk chocolate notes. 

Vanilla Beans

What other flavors pair well with Uganda Vanilla?

The notes of sweet cocoa, rich tobacco, and dried fruit mean that Ugandan Vanilla pairs well with a variety of spices and ingredients. With a higher-than-average vanillin content, they are suited to a variety of applications and the flavor shines in desserts and when paired with chocolate.

How to use Uganda Vanilla

As with any vanilla, you can use Ugandan Vanilla to make your own vanilla extract. You can also find recipes for DIY Vanilla Bean Paste. To use the beans, as with any vanilla bean, you'll make a cut down the length of the bean. Gently open the bean and use the back of your knife (or a spoon, if you're more comfortable) and scrape out the precious and flavorful vanilla bean caviar. But don't stop there and don't throw your "empty" pods away. There are plenty of ways to use "leftover" vanilla bean pods.

Vanilla ice cream

Recipes using Ugandan Vanilla BeansIce Cream and more!

You don't even need an ice cream maker to enjoy rich, creamy vanilla ice cream. We suggest swapping out vanilla extract for vanilla beans whenever you want! Remember that 1 bean is equivalent to about 1 Tbsp. of extract - but you can feel free to add a bit more or less as it suits your taste. We have a delectable tangy, sweet, creamy No-Churn Buttermilk Vanilla Ice Cream recipe - but if you want to dump the mixture into an ice cream machine, we won't tell!

And in the winter, it's eggnog season. If you haven't tried making your own, trust us when we say that the flavor is unparalleled. If you think you don't like eggnog, it's possible that the store-bought stuff just isn't up to your standards. It takes some time and patience but it definitely pays off. Try our Best Ever Eggnog and use your "black gold" (aka vanilla beans).

This incredible vanilla pairs well with both chocolate and fruit, so consider using Ugandan Vanilla Beans in place of extract in Derby's Spiced Plum Jam or Fudgy Brownies.

For classic Double Vanilla Cupcakes, swap your extract for 1/2 of a vanilla bean. You can add the other half of the bean to your frosting to get those beautiful vanilla bean flecks (or vanilla caviar).

Share your sweet treats and tag us on Instagram (@savoryspiceshop). For even more must-haves, shop our Baking spices.

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Savory Spice - December 6, 2022

Hi Laurel,

The price is $13.99 for 1 Ugandan Vanilla Bean.


Laurel Burgwardt - December 6, 2022

How much? How many in a jar?

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