Are you a Vanilla lover browsing online to find which type of Vanilla product will suite your purpose?
a Gourmet Chef wishing to try out a new Vanilla recipe,
a perfumer working on your next Vanilla Scented fragrance
a Do It Yourself (DIY) Mum working on your Vanilla Candle Concept or
You’re just a Vanilla buyer searching online for information on how best to store your newly purchased batch of Vanilla Beans.
If you fit one of the descriptions I have mentioned above, then you just might have reached where you wanted to go…!
So please take some time to read through our content because we have compiled this Vanilla Consumer’s Guide to assist you get the most out of the Vanilla beans you buy so expensively from Uganda, Madagascar, Indonesia, Mexico , China or from Papa New Guine (PNG).
New to the Vanilla industry Value Chain, no problem...!
This Vanilla Consumer’s Guide presents to you an opportunity to learn about Vanilla and be able objectively evaluate the quality of different Vanilla Beans and Vanilla products presented to you, before you make your first Vanilla purchase. This Vanilla Consumers’ Guide could also help you launch your very own Vanilla Brand with products to sell at your Vanilla Shop.
On this Vanilla guide you will also be able to follow relevant Vanilla Industry news Updates, Share your Vanilla Story and ask questions about Vanilla.
Your also have the chance to buy Vanilla Beans right from the source!
What is Vanilla...?
On this Vanilla Consumer’s Guide we unveil Vanilla as the most popular flavor in the world; the Vanilla flavor is signified by a very sweet, creamy character imparted by Vanillin, the most abundant flavor and aroma chemical present in cured vanilla beans. The characteristic aroma and flavor of vanilla is the result of various chemical and biochemical processes that take place during the curing and conditioning of vanilla beans. The vanillin content of cured beans of different origins varies from 0.3 percent to 3 percent. The vanillin content of beans depends upon a number of variables, such as species, bean maturity at the time of harvest and curing process.
Although the presence of vanillin in the vanilla bean greatly enhances the quality of vanilla, its absence does not change the basic vanilla character or render the beans worthless. A number of other major, minor and trace constituents play very significant roles in imparting vanilla with its characteristic aroma and flavor.
The vanilla constituents responsible for aroma and flavor include volatiles such as aromatic carbonyls, aromatic alcohols, aromatic acids, aromatic esters, phenols and phenol ethers, aliphatic alcohols, carbonyls, acids, esters and lactones, aromatic hydrocarbons, terpenoids, aliphatic hydrocarbons and heterocyclics. The nonvolatile constituents important in vanilla flavor are tannins, polyphenols, resins and free amino acids.
All of these constituents together produce the delicate, rich and mellow aroma with sweet spicy, woody and balsamic notes.
Researchers have identified nearly 200 different chemical components that contribute to the complex aroma and flavor of cured vanilla beans.
According to the Oxford dictionary, Vanilla is described as a substance obtained from vanilla pods or produced artificially and used to flavour foods or to impart a fragrant scent to cosmetic preparations.
Vanilla is also described as the second most Expensive Spice in the World after Saffron because growing the vanilla seed pods/beans is labor-intensive.
We often hear the term "herbs and spices" often during cooking because herbs and spices are vital ingredients in many dishes. They add flavor, aroma, color, texture and even nutrients.
But what makes Spices different from Herbs?....
Both spices and herbs are parts of plants (fresh or dried) that are used to enhance the flavor of foods. They’ve also been known to preserve foods, cure illness and enhance cosmetics.
The difference between the two is where they are obtained from a plant. Herbs come from the leafy and green part of the plant. Spices are parts of the plant other than the leafy bit such as the root, stem, bulb, bark or seeds. And this is what makes Vanilla Beans a Spice.
So, why is Vanilla so popular…?
Vanilla has become irresistible to world today not just because of the sweet aroma Vanilla imparts to countless food, beverage and Dessert Vanilla recipes; but vanilla has also been found to posses some interesting health benefits when you consume it in your food or apply it on your skin or hair:
Vanilla reduces Cholesterol – Vanilla has been found to reduce cholesterol when consumed in food. High cholesterol can predispose you Hypertension/high blood pressure or worsen already existing disease. High cholesterol can also worsen Diabetes and also cause coronary heart disease.
Vanilla has healing properties – Vanilla has been found to contain Antioxidants, Antibacterial, Immune boosters and Anxielitic chemicals.
Vanilla is hair Food - When used in hair products; vanilla helps to strengthen hair and prevents hair loss (alopecia)
Vanilla Improves digestion – Vanilla when taken in tea can help soothe your gut inflammation and reduce diarrhea
Vanilla aides weight loss – Vanilla can help reduce the amount of sugar you use in your food and also suppress your appetite.
So, where did this Vanilla we love come from…?
Vanilla Beans originated in Mexico, for hundreds of years the Totonaco Indians of the East Central Coast of Mexico were the only known Vanilla farmers in the world. Vanilla grows within the 20-degree band either side of the Equator, the vanilla you know best, Vanilla planifolia, traditionally grew wild on the Atlantic Gulf side of Mexico from Tampico around to the northeast tip of South America, and from Colima, Mexico to Ecuador on the Pacific side. It also grew throughout the Caribbean.
When the Aztecs defeated the Totonaco Indians, one the most important tribute they demanded was of the Thilxochiti Vine , Vanilla Pods/Beans. These pods were used with cacao beans to make a drink called Chocolatl. In 1520 Herna Hernando Cortez, in turn conquered the Aztecs. In his magnificent banquet hall, Montezuma, Emperor of the Aztecs greeted Cortez and offered him this drink in a golden goblet. Cortez astounded by the delicious flavor of Chocolatl demanded to know the ingredients. Montezuma, the gracious host told him it contained ground corn, cacao beans , Vanilla pods and honey. Alas, Montezuna not only lost the secret to his favorite beverage, his riches and his empire, but also his life, as Cortez executed him shortly thereafter.
When Cortez returned to Spain, he brought with him a great deal of Gold, Silver and jewels plundered from the Aztecs. Of even greater importance, he also brought Cacao beans and Vanilla pods, which the Spaniards called “Vainilla” meaning “Litte Scabbard”. The drink made from cacao beans and Vanilla pods was an instant success in and extremely popular throughout Europe. At first it was a luxury only the nobility and very rich could afford as for eight years , vanilla was used in the chocolate drink. In 1602, Hugh Morgan, apothecary to Queen Elizabeth I , suggested that vanilla could be used as a flavoring itself. This was the first step on the path toward dominant position vanilla now hold in the flavor world.
Until the mid-19th century, Mexico was the chief producer of vanilla. In 1819, French entrepreneurs shipped vanilla fruits to the islands of Réunion and Mauritius in hopes of producing vanilla there.
Vanilla, a species of a climbing Orchid, grew beautiful foliage and flowers in each of these regions, but never produced any Vanilla pods. A mystery to the world until 1836, a Frenchman observing very closely the original Vanilla plant, in Mexico, discovered the reason. Each of the orchid blooms was visited by the small ""Melipona"" bee. This specialized little creature provided the pollination which produced the fruit! Only in Mexico is the Melipona Bee found.
In 1837, Belgian botanist Charles François Antoine Morren pioneered a method of artificially pollinating the Vanilla flower but the method proved financially unworkable and was not deployed commercially.
In 1841, Edmond Albius, a slave who lived on the French island of Réunion in the Indian Ocean, discovered at the age of 12 that the plant could be hand-pollinated. Hand-pollination allowed global cultivation of the plant.
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