There is good news and less good news this year. With the high pricing of the last two seasons, more farmers have gone back to growing saffron on the La Mancha Plateau and other producing regions in the world, and prices have been coming down. The largest drop in prices is for Persian Saffron, where an enormous crop was produced. Alas, the U.S. reinstated a trade embargo against Iran in late September 2010 that precludes the importation of their Saffron. However, I do have a pleasing new stock of very strong saffron from Northwestern Greece, and of course the dependably beautiful and aromatic Spanish Mancha Saffron at considerably better prices than last year.
Spanish Mancha Saffron
I always look forward to my first shipment from the new La Mancha harvest. This is my favorite moment of the year: I open the containers and am engulfed by the extraordinary fragrance of the new crop. A colleague recently reminded me of the labor intensiveness of saffron harvesting and the low pay the harvesters have normally received. The last two years the saffron farmers in Spain received good wages and, while it may not last, perhaps that is the current upside to this period of higher than normal pricing. While the Spanish farmers are still getting a relative premium price for their crops, prices have come down this year.
Kozanis Greek Saffron
This Greek Saffron comes from the Kozanis Cooperative, which represents over 1,200 growers. This is very strong saffron in terms of coloring power, and it tends to maintain that strength well over time. The flavor profiles have a good complexity and are more similar to the Spanish than the Persian. The aroma is milder than Mancha Saffron. In addition to the Greek saffron that I am offering in large bulk containers, I have a line of certified organic in retail containers labeled with the Kozanis Cooperative Brand.
As mentioned above, it was in late September that the U.S. reinstated an embargo on a number of imports from Iran, including saffron. It is difficult to predict how long this will be in effect.
I am continuing to expand my interest in quality saffron from Morocco and when I find a good dependable source, I will likely add this North African Saffron to my offerings.
Priorities at Bacstrom: I will continue to source the best saffron that I can find and will be meticulous with labeling in terms of purity of product and country of origin . If you have any questions about Bacstrom products or about the industry as a whole, I encourage you to contact me.
VANILLA BEANS and EXTRACTS AND VANILLA BEANS IN GLASS TUBES
I am pleased to introduce a newly expanded line of Single Origin Vanilla Extracts and a new line of Vanilla Beans packaged in glass tubes.
I have in stock an ample quantity of very beautiful oily' large beans, very high in vanillin content, and that have the most recognizable flavor profile. Luckily, pricing remains very attractive. despite the general rise in pricing of agrocomodity products around the world. I am still able to provide the highest quality gourmet beans that I insist on. Extract quality beans are available by special order at prices 40-50% less than the gourmet grades. I have recently added one and two fold extracts made from 100% Madagascar beans available in two retail sizes and two manufacturing /restaurant sizes.
After visiting the vanilla growing region in Veracruz, Mexico, I became enamored of the vanilla grown there. It has a rich history and tradition: the Totonac Indians were flavoring their hot chocolate with vanilla before Cortez ever appeared. Veracruz and other parts of Central America emerged as the birthplace of all vanilla. The Totonacs, whose ancestors first learned how to cure the bean continue to do much of the growing and harvesting of this beautiful premium vanilla.
These whitish yellow orchid flowers bloom in the spring, when intensive work of hand pollination begins. The green vanilla beans typically remain on the vine until an early December harvest. The beans are then subject to hot water or oven heat, after which for the next several months they are laid out in the midday sun for several hours and are then brought inside, covered over, and allowed to 'sweat'. This process continues for 45-90 days, although some of the beans that I buy are sun cured for up to five months before export. The result of the extended cure is a very rich oily vanilla pod, with complex flavors and high vanillin. This variety of vanilla from Veracruz is called Planifolia 'Andrews' and is the variety now grown in Madagascar, Indonesia, and Uganda. This variety evolved from various cuttings taken from one or more of these Central American areas and thence to Europe and on to various tropical areas around the world.
A second variety grown only in Veracruz is called Pompona, a bean famous for its intense aroma, and which i should have available soon. Though the history of vanilla types is quite vague, it is thought likely that the 'Tahitensis' beans now grown in Tahiti are a hybrid blend of these two types found in Veracruz. I have available beans richly flavored beans subjected to both the traditional and also the extended curing times. Also available are varying lengths and number of beans per pound.
* I am also pleased to have in stock a beautifully complex Veracruz Vanilla Extract. Hopefully a new line of strictly organic vanilla beans and extract will be introduced soon.
Prices of vanilla harvested in Tahiti are finally trending downward, but are still well above the broader market. Hopefully this down trend will continue, as a result of the French Polynesians reacting to the market share they are losing to the 'tahitensis' varieties being produced in Papau New Guinea. My current inventory from Tahiti consists of the large 'oily' highly aromatic crop that has given Tahitian vanilla its worldwide reputation.
Papua New Guinea
I have a good inventory of 'tahitensis' vanilla from Papua New Guinea that shares much of the heliotropin aroma of the Tahitian grown beans, and that also have excellent vanillin content that exceeds that found in Tahitian beans. I have added a new PNG 'Tahitensis' Vanilla Extract. However, I have not been able to get a shipment of the 'Planifolia' beans from Papua that meet my standards. Please inquire about when a new shipment might arrive.
Uganda, Indonesia, India, & Costa Rica
Please inquire if you are interested in vanilla from these regions, which is occasionally available.
I have recently found a good source from Madagascar, will soon introduce organically grown beans from Veracruz, and am investigating other origins. Please feel free to inquire about special orders.
Extract Grade Vanilla
Extract grade vanilla beans are available by special order and are subject to a 25 pound minimum order. These beans, whose origins may be Madagascar, Papua New Guinea or Indonesia, have a lower moisture content. However, they can sometimes be provided at less than half the price of the prime and gourmet grades, except when there are widespread shortages. Abundant supplies appear to be available this year.
Please call or email. It will be a pleasure to speak with you about products and trade conditions.
Bacstrom Import Company