Vanilla-Harvest and storage
The pods of vanilla ripen in about 9-11 months’ time. Before attaining maturity, the fruit is dark green in colour. At harvest time yellowing commences from the tip of the pod.
The pods are collected from the vine manually. If allowed to remain on the vine further, the pods split.
Free vanillin is not present in the beans when they are harvested. They also do not have the aroma. Vanillin is developed as a result of enzyme action on a glycoside occurring during the process of curing of beans.
Curing of vanilla involves immersing the beans (2-3 days after harvest) in hot water. The temperature is maintained at 63 to 65ºC for three minutes. The process will kill the bean by arresting the vegetative development.
The hot beans are given a rapid drying in woolen blankets. Then they are kept in chests lined with blankets. Next day, they are spread out in sun on blanket for three to four hours and rolled up to retain the heat.
Repeat this for six to eight days, during which the beans lose their weight. The beans become supple and can be twisted on finger without breaking. This is followed by slow drying in the shade for a period of two to three months.
Properly dried beans are kept in trunks where the fragrance is fully developed. Finally, they are graded according to size and bundled and placed in iron boxes lined with paraffin paper. The vanillin content of properly cured beans will be about 2.5 per cent.