Vanilla is the second most expensive spice in the world after saffron. It is the only fruit-bearing member of the orchid family. This species of orchid is native to South Eastern Mexico. These fruits are shaped like pods. It is one of the most popular ingredients in different culinary preparations.
According to FDA standards, the pure extract contains approximately 13.35 ounces of vanilla beans per gallon during the process of extraction. One tbsp of the pure extract has 37 calories. Vanilla vines need to be supported by a host tree or post. They can grow up to 30-50 feet.
Fun Facts: –
- There are more than 150 different varieties of vanilla plants. It is the only edible fruit of orchid family.
- It is the most favorite ice cream flavor in the United States. 30% Americans prefer this.
- Vanilla can be pollinated by the melipona bee only. This bee is found in the Central America.
- Flowers are hand pollinated by using a wooden needle to duplicate the process in other parts of the world.
- The United States is world’s largest consumer of this spice, followed by Europe.
- It is considered as a sacred herb in some cultures and also used to heal and soothe.
- This tropic orchid species grows best 10-20° North or South of the Equator but only in moist humid regions.
- The Olmeca people on the Gulf Coast of Mexico were the first to use it for flavoring.
- There are two types of the beans which are Vanilla planifolia and Vanilla tahitensis. They are mainly used for cooking.
- Clean or white extract is made from synthetic vanillin. In the US, it is also known as ‘Imitation Vanilla’.