Tahitian vanilla is the only vanilla, together with the one from Reunion, considered by professionals as high-end product.
It is famed for its glossy texture, supple form and aromatic content of its beans.
It is unique for its genetic characteristics, but also for the favourable environment of French Polynesia, thanks to the nature of the soil, climate but also so its Polynesian planters and processors.
Vanilla beans are odourless when green. The so-called aroma appears only after the curing process. Aromatic molecules content vary during curing and according to the humidity rate of the bean.
With the help of Mrs. Christel Brunschwig's thesis at the University of French Polynesia (http://www.upf.pf/BIOTEM.html), the Etablissement Vanille de Tahiti, has for the first time succeeded in decrypting the aroma of the Tahitian vanilla, with the combination of chemical and sensorial analysis that led to identifying more than 200 components.
Chemical analysis carried out at Etablissement Vanille de Tahiti, at the University of French Polynesia and at the Cagill laboratory, Grasse, have pointed out, with several analysis techniques, aromatic specificity of the Tahitian Vanilla and set it apart from other farmed vanilla species.
Vanillin is low in the total aroma of Tahitian vanilla and anisic components are more important. Anisic components such as anisic alcohol and aldehyde are essential because they are in large quantities while having an important olfactory impact, contrary to vanillin.
French Polynesian Tahitensis Vanilla is different from planifolia vanilla with a rounder, more balanced sensorial profile and some "caramel" and "anisic" notes, while Bourbon vanilla is more "fruity/pruny", "woody" or "spicy".
French Polynesian Tahitensis Vanilla is different from Papua New Guinea Tahitensis Vanilla, because more "vanilla", less "woody", "smoked".
Legend: Polynesian Tahitensis Vanilla (in blue), planifolia (claret red) an Papua New Guinea tahitensis (red) sensorial profile
While organoleptic properties of vanilla beans are mostly due to fragrant volatile molecules, lipids have a role in modifying aroma perception. During curing process, they can fix volatile molecules and limit their evaporation form the beans. Polynesian vanilla beans are richer in fat acids than other vanilla species (an average of 2.5%, 1.2%-2.4% for V. planifolia) partly explaining this glossy and supple aspect, so attractive to the users.
Tahitian Vanilla and its cultivars are richer in fat acids than other vanilla species. And despite slight differences, all contribute to make the Tahitian Vanilla a particular product.
|composés||Vanilla planifolia (Madagascar)||Vanilla tahitensis (French Polynesia) ||Vanilla x tahitensis (Papua New Guinea) |
|Alcool p-hydroxybenzylique|| nd||331||nd|
|Acide p-hydroxybenzoïque|| 452||6467||4059|