A white covering of vanillin crystals is often visible on our vanilla pods and misidentified as mould, giving rise to claims for mould damage and leaving shops and customers without supply. These crystals indicate that the beans are high in natural vanillin and are of very good quality. The crystals are quite edible and very flavoursome.
If you are uncertain whether your vanilla beans are covered with crystals or mildewed, take them into the sunlight. The crystals are similar to mineral crystals and will reflect the sun’s rays, creating the colours of the rainbow. Mildew, on the other hand, will be dull and flat in the light.