If the pod don’t break, vanilla is fresh! Guaranteed!
Vanilla is a variety of an orchid plant, that originally comes from Mexico, which is not cultivated for its flowers but for its fruit: the Vanilla pod. Vanilla pods are one of the most valuable spices in the world. It has a unique scent and some people claim it has aphrodisiac properties. Vanilla pod is black and thin and it can grow up to 30cm long. Once harvested, they are left to ferment and dry. Mexico was the main vanilla producer until the 19th century because most attempts to grow this plant outside its natural habitat failed. When vanilla strated being exported to Europe, its demand boomed. In France, aristocratic women bought vanilla in bulk to perfume rooms.
Vanilla is mainly used to make desserts such as ice creams, creams, cakes and liquors. Vanilla, in Oriental and African cuisines, is also used for savory dishes. You can combine a lot of ingredients with vanilla, the most common are lemon, chocolate, cream and strwberries. It is often used to flavor milk and sometimes coffee too. in the sicilian Cassata, is one of the key ingredients but also, be creative: ever tried vanilla risotto?
Did you know that?
The cultivation of vanilla is very difficult because pollination can only be done with a particular insect, the Melipona bee. Also, one more problem: this bee can be found just in Mexico!