Growing vanilla beans takes patience and care. A member of the orchid family, the vine blooms once a year in the spring and must be hand-pollinated within 12 hours of opening. When the beans are picked, they look more like a green bean than the vanilla bean we would recognize in the store. After harvesting the beans are cured and dried, a labor intensive process that includes wrapping them in cloth to sweat, laying them in the sun to dry, and placing them in air tight boxes. The time between harvesting and selling takes months.