Delicious vanilla crop
PORT Douglas vanilla bean growers Russell and Mary Spanton have been nominated as finalists for the 2012 delicious magazine produce awards.
Vanilla Australia, located in the foothills of Port Douglas and owned by the Spantons, is considered a pioneer of the industry in Australia.
The Spantons are growing Australia’s first and finest vanilla beans using biodynamic and biological methods and their vanilla has one of the highest vanillin contents in the world.
They are in the middle of harvesting this magic bean after having just finished pollinating their 45,000 vanilla plants which has taken four months.
“The pollination process is done by hand and we have to wait until the flowers open and then Russell and I have to hand-pollinate the flowers before they close again,” Mrs Spanton said.
“If we get the timing wrong and not get the flower pollinated then after the flower closes it will simply die and drop off the vine.”
It is a very labour-intensive crop to look after and there is also a complicated timeconsuming drying process once the beans have been harvested, but Mrs Spanton said all of the hard work was paying off because the beans are producing excellent vanilla and people are enjoying it.
Nearly 2000 nominations were received for the delicious magazine produce awards this year. Products were judged by a panel of leading chefs in each state, and their shortlist of finalists will now go to the next round.
The five primary produce national judges will decide on the stand-outs in each category -Earth, which the Spantons have been selected in - Dairy, Paddock, Sea and Artisan.
The judging has uncovered an abundance of quality from some of Australia’s top producers and artisans.
The national judging panel comprises some of Australia’s most respected chefs, including Matt Moran (ARIA Restaurant), Philip Johnson (E’cco Bistro) and Maggie Beer.
The winners will be announced in the August issue of delicious magazine, which is released on July 18.
Mrs Spanton said it felt heart-warming to be recognised for your work.
“We are prouder still that we have been able to deliver beautiful organic vanilla essence and vanilla beans to all of our clients,” she said.
Cream of the crop: Mary and Russell Spanton