In 1998, an old slaughterhouse in Paauilo, Hawaii, underwent a drastic change in design when it transformed into a sustainable organic vanillery, the only vanilla operating facility in the country. Vacationers with resort rentals in Hawaii can take a tour of the Hawaiian Vanilla Company and taste a variety of gourmet products including delectable baked goods and savory entree dishes.
From start to finish, it can take about five years to produce one vanilla bean. Because of its labor-intensive process, vanilla is the world’s second most expensive spice, behind the potent and flavorful saffron spice. The company is in the process of growing its vanilla bean farm from a 30,000-square foot greenhouse to a 180,000-square foot space. Together, founder Jim Reddekopp, his wife, Tracy, and their three children – who are 11, 10 and 8 years old – pollinate the orchids during the growing season.
The family hosts morning tastings, lunch and afternoon tea to visiting guests on timeshare vacations. Vanillery tours and luncheons offer palate-enticing meals such as chicken marinated in vanilla bourbon citrus, served with vanilla caramelized onions on Hawaiian sweetbread and a side of vanilla-infused whiskey.
The trip to the vanilla company would not be complete without the delicious taste of dessert to complement the meal. A scoop of vanilla ice cream – made in house, of course – and a cup of local coffee from the Hilo Coffee Company can be a sweet ending to your unique Hawaiian getaway.