Heilala Tongan Vanilla Bean Paste

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If you've paid attention, you know I love Madagascar vanilla bean paste. I actually have rarely used anything else since I was first introduced to it in 2003. That being said, I kept hearing about this small company from New Zealand (using beans grown in Tonga) and wanted to give it a try. Even Bon Appetit listed it as the "best gift for the baker in your life" in a December 2019 article

If you've never used vanilla bean paste, just go ahead, bite the bullet, and let's make magic happen. Your baked goods (and the people who eat them) will appreciate it. 

A little about the company:

Heilala Vanilla’s origins began in 2002 as an aid project founded by New Zealander, John Ross, and his family. The Kingdom of Tonga had been ravaged by Cyclone Waka, leaving the Islands and its people shattered in the wake of an exceptionally vicious natural disaster. Partnering with a local family in the village of Utungake, together they established a small vanilla plantation that robustly grew into the world renowned humanitarian vanilla brand, Heilala Vanilla.

Grown on rich, Pacific soil and dried under the Polynesian sun, this vanilla is an all natural product of a perfect climate. With a highly-scientific, unrefined process (cold-pressed, slow-extract), and an artisan work culture of the hard-working local farmers and families, Heilala Vanilla is innovating outdated Vanilla products and production. Many know orchids to be a delicate, fickle flower, but few realize that Vanilla is a genus of the very same plant, and that beans take 3 to 5 years to grow. Heilala's farmers are dedicated craftsmen, tending to each plant with in-depth wisdom and expertise.

Sustainability is at the heart of Heilala Vanilla’s ‘Reason Why’. Heilala Vanilla supports ‘The Tongan Way’ (Anga Fakatonga), with a working culture that is social, family friendly and has given its people a new industry to adopt, supporting the protection of their local lifestyle. Heilala is building a stable, long-term industry for Tonga, redefining corporate-social responsibility by working with an entire nation to transform their future.

INGREDIENTS: Pure Vanilla Paste, Vanilla Bean Extract, Vanilla Bean Seeds, Sugar (5%), Thickener (Carrageenan 0.5-1%)