Vanilla Weddings in the South Pacific

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Post by Suzanne R Banks

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Hi APJ,

A vanilla wedding in the South Pacific? How about hundreds of them every year? Forge on to discover how organic vanilla is grown on the tropical island of Lifou in New Caledonia, with my gorgeous pics!

Vanilla Weddings in the South Pacific

img_5924The vanilleraie on Lifou

On my recent trip to New Caledonia I found a small organic vanilla plantation in the Botanic Garden on the island of Lifou. Watch the story unfold ….

In a nutshell:

  • Mexican vanilla was introduced by the missionaries in the 1800’s
  • The plantation is growing each year as more vines are planted – cuttings are taken from the original vines
  • It takes about 7 years from planting to produce beans
  • The plant flowers in October to November
  • The flowers are not scented

img_5744This is the beautiful vanilla flower

  • As the plants are an introduced species the local insects and birds do not pollinate the flower – this has to be done by hand
  • The male organ in the flower is gently touched to the female organ – this is the pollinating process
  • Pollinating must be done in the morning as the flowers close in the afternoon
  • Once the flower has dried and died, the vanilla beans grow

img_5745The young vanilla bean

  • When the time is right the beans are picked and plunged into boiling water for 3 minutes
  • The beans are dried in both sun and shade for 3 months then placed into aging boxes to develop – just like wine
  • Lifou currently sends all its harvest to Noumea but is aspiring to export worldwide when the crops are more bountiful

img_5778My wonderful guide

It was so hot and the tour continued onto other beautiful sights, like a tribal hut and he Cliffs of Jokin. I wish I had asked a few more questions but the tour party pressed on. And I can’t believe I forgot my guide’s name. The heat got into my brain!

img_5764The Cliffs of Jokin

The picture does not do the water justice – it was a stunning turquoise blue. We also spotted a shark swimming around.

(Ed: All photos donated by Suzanne R Banks)

Remember to treat yourself first, then everyone will benefit.

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Australasian Artisan Botanical Perfume Expo in Sydney, 24th April 2016

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