Member Jim Donovan presents speaker Hank Kaestner the book “Vanilla: The Cultural History of the World’s Favorite Flavor and Fragrance” to be donated to The Pierson Library in his name. 
John Pane introduced guests Ann Pardee, former member of CSH Rotary and her husband Steve Bechendorf.  Hank Kaestner is also our guest speaker today. 
August 4 - Sam provided an update to the Dragon Boat Festival. A couple of back up’s are needed.
September 13 - Catherine provided hard copy tickets for the Golf Ball drop and the QR code and Eventbrite Event are also up ready for sales.  
Hank Kaestner is our speaker today. Former director of spice procurement at McCormick. 
Dan York introduced Hank Kaestner.  He is also an avid birder and speaks to groups frequently. But as the former Director of Procurement for McCormick, he will talk to us about vanilla today!
Hank began with the Merriam Webster definition of Vanilla: flavored with the extract of the vanilla bean; lacking distinction : plainordinaryconventional
Hank assured the members that vanilla is anything but ordinary! 
In 1453 there was a great historical reference point-the Fall of Constantinople.  This allowed the Ottoman Empire to reestablish land trading routes. 
In 1549,  Indians in Mexico growing vanilla beans was discovered by Cortez. Subsequently, he took the beans to Europe, enabling the explosion of vanilla and it’s popularity.  Grown on orchids, the vanilla plant is native to Mexico.
Around 1850, Edmond Albius, Horticulturist, invented the technique for pollinating vanilla orchids quickly and profitably. This technique is used today. 
Hank was going to Madagascar for McCormick in the 1970’s, establishing relationship with Madagascar, who wanted to sell their vanilla beans. During this time, he was “drafted” by the CIA to spy on the country because it was thought they were communist. 
Cultivation and culture of the vanilla bean:
A labor intensive process to strip the plant and obtain the bean.  The flavor is obtained by a three month curing process.  These steps include:
  • Boiling the beans in hot water
  • Sweating the beans
  • Dry in the sun for two months.  Brought in at night and in the rain.
  • Bundling
  • Quality control
Finally, the beans are ready for world wide consumption.
Vanilla extract is 70 proof due to the existence of alcohol, which is used to extract the flavor.
Hank believes Nielsen Massey is the best vanilla available.  Vanilla ice cream contains no actual vanilla!
80% of the floral and fauna is native to Madagascar. In recent years, conservation has become the focus and the farmers are all fair trade farmers. 
Jim Donovan presented Hank with the book “Vanilla: The Cultural History of the World’s Favorite Flavor and Fragrance” by Patricia Rain to be presented to The Pierson Library in Shelburne in his name.