WHAT IS VANILLA?
Vanilla beans are grown from orchids, which belong to a variety of species in the Vanilla genus. These pods are widely used in the fragrance, flavor, confectionery and ice cream industries.
Did you know that?
- Did you know that saffron is the most expensive spice in the world while vanilla is the second most expensive?
- It takes 4 years for the vanilla orchid to bring in its first harvest?
- It takes 9 months to pick the pods?
- And another 3 months until the beans are cured?
Since the 1660s "pod of the vanilla plant", diminutive of vaina "sheath", from Latin vagina "sheath of an ear of corn, shell of a plant", from Spanish vainilla "vanilla plant". The pods got their name because of their distinctive shape. Hernando Cortes' men discovered it in 1521 on a reconnaissance mission in southwestern Mexico. In 1728 the term "vanilla bean extract" was used to describe the aroma.
Because vanilla was first used as a noun in the late 19th century and then as an adjective (often used to describe vanilla ice cream) in the 1940s, the term now means "plain and ordinary". This usage dates back to the 1970s and most likely stems from the widespread use of vanilla ice cream and the notion of whiteness.
After saffron, vanilla is the most commonly used flavor in baking, confectionery and ice cream. It has a delicious smell and taste.
Vainilla is a diminutive of vaina (pod) in Spanish, and its aroma - often considered the world's most popular aroma - is extracted from the dried, immature pods (vanilla pods) of orchids of the genus Vanilla.
The vanilla flavor comes from an orchid, which is one of the few in a family full of oddballs. The vanilla plant stands out among the 27,800 members of the orchid family not only because it is the only one cultivated for a commodity that is used worldwide.
First, it is a vine, which is rare in the entire family other than vanilla. Vanilla planifolia, the flat-leaved vanilla identical to the species properly named Vanilla fragrans, is the source of 90% of the pure vanilla on the market. This tropical group includes about 50 members or species, several of which produce aromatic pods.
Orchids are unanimously considered the most beautiful flowers in nature from an aesthetic and artistic point of view. The wild vanilla plant grows in the same way as the Virginia milkwort or any other vine. This plant can grow up to 30 feet long and 30 feet tall when at the base of a tree, clinging to the trunk with its aerial roots.
Apart from the ground-dwelling orchids, all other orchids have their roots in the soil. The aerial roots, the spongy white sucker roots of tropical species that usually begin their life cycle in trees, provide support and nourishment to these plants, which have no true terrestrial roots.
Vanilla, on the other hand, is unique in that it uses both types of roots at the same time. It is both a terrestrial plant and an epiphyte and due to its dual nature it survives mainly in the atmosphere. Also, the vanilla orchids are the only ones with succulent leaves and stems, and the only ones with fleshy seed pods instead of the dry ones.
The seeds and pollen grains of vanilla are remarkable even when magnified. Unlike other orchids, the pollen grains, bound together in a sticky mass, do not have the usual connecting threads; each grain remains for itself.
Rather than having a microscopic, web-like structure, vanilla seeds have a transparent wall that is thick and black, the contents of which may account for the oily, balsamic pulp in which they are immersed.
Selenipedium (also known as "vainilla chica" in Spanish) is one of only two or three orchids that produce similar seeds, and is commonly used as a substitute for true vanilla in the Latin American regions where it is endemic.
Just a drop of nature's best flavors! This range of Baking Extracts and Flavors is for the serious chef who wants a lot of flavor in their food.