In Melbourne, a city full of food and obsessed by coffee, I cook, I eat, I share the good news and the bad. essjay eats

Vanilla Pods from Papua New Guinea

Vanilla from PNG  header

This week, as I was leaving the Collingwood Farmers’ Market, I spied an interesting sign promising vanilla pods from Papua New Guinea.

Turns out it was a fundraiser for a small community off the coast of PNG which is being forced to move off their coral atoll, Carteret.  This atoll is about 80km from the coast off Bougainville, a larger island off the coast of PNG.  Carteret atoll has been submerging for the last few decades.

So their taro swamp is salty, their land is being eroded and the living conditions are such that an evacuation of the atoll is underway.  As they move to the mainland however, they find themselves without a source of income, or food. The elders of the community have set up an organisation called Tulele Peisa or “sailing the winds together” to help and support these villagers.

A group of villagers on a near by island grow vanilla orchids in their yards. With the help of the Australian Conservation Foundation, with sales facilitated by Friends of the Earth, and stall space from the Farmers’ Markets, this sustainably produced vanilla is being brought direct “to market” to support this organisation.

Vanilla from PNG

The pods aren’t as soft as some of the very expensive ones I’ve bought – but at $10 a bag – which in my case contained 10 long straight pods, and another 5 that were shorter of curlier, you can’t argue with the value.  I made a poaching syrup today with the pods and they smell quite delicious.  And I feel very ‘rich” with so many to use! (and a little bit virtuous).

The pods will be on sale again and Gasworks Farmers’ Market next week, and if there are any left, you might see them at the Twilight Xmas markets. A real case of buying when you see it at the farmers’ markets as it might not be around long.

If you’d like to donate to the cause you can do so via Friends of the Earth – or look out for some of this fabulous vanilla.


7 thoughts on “Vanilla Pods from Papua New Guinea

  • Hi Stella, sorry for the delay approving this comment – I’ve been out of action.

    The PNG vanilla is dried more than other more commercial varieties, so it’s not such an obvious aroma, but it is noticeably strong once scraped or infused into custard. The flavour has some savoury, almost salty sea water, notes.

    I’ve made custard and vanilla shortbread with them so far, both delicious. And I’m infusing a whole heap of sugar with the left over beans.

    I’ve got some tahitian beans on order which I am looking forward to comparing.

    Comment from: essjayeats

  • Papua New Guinea has a vanilla crop? Wow! How do you think the flavor of the vanilla compares with the flavors of vanillas from some of the more traditional locales? I’m very intrigued! Vanilla from Tonga was my latest happy find, now I’m intrigued for something new!

    Comment from: Stella

  • Hiya SJ-have a lovely Christmas-cheers Steve

    Comment from: Steve

  • I’ve been advised by ACF that they will sell out at Gasworks this Saturday. I’ll try to let you know if there are more for the New Year.

    It’s a great cause – so if you miss out on the vanilla, perhaps you could consider a donation?

    Comment from: essjayeats

  • that’s fantastic. What a bargain and a great story. I’d feel rich with that many pods too!

    Comment from: Bells

  • Hi Ivan, If you’re really keen might I suggest you head to gasworks market next Saturday. I don’t think they will have enough stock for the next Collingwood Market – though there might be some left for the Slow Food twilight market at Abbotsford Convent on 23 December from 3pm to 8pm

    Comment from: essjayeats

  • 10 Bucks!??!!! so cheap!! it’s off to the collingwood farmers market for me- thanks for the info

    Comment from: ivan

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