Vanilla is a flavour derived from some tropical orchids. This is the only orchid grown for reasons outside ornamental purposes.
The vanilla bean is between 12 and 20cm in length and its appearance is black and shiny. When opening the beans, there are little black seeds that contain the intense vanilla flavour.
Native to Central America, the history of vanilla is intertwined with the history of chocolate!
Christopher Columbus tried to bring vanilla to the continent of Europe but it wasn’t until the 19th century that it was possible to produce the vanilla on this continent.
It was at that point that they realized that a specific species of bee, native to South America, played an indispensable role in the formation of the fruit. Vanilla is now produced in all tropical regions of the world but the cross-breeding is done by hand.
Vanilla has many beneficial properties, some proven and many others that have come from the traditions of the Aztecs and Mayan people.
Vanilla helps the body regulate its sleep cycle by fighting against fatigue and insomnia. Vanilla is similar to chocolate in the way that it aids with the effects of stress and depression. Some say that vanilla also soothes the bites of poisonous animals. Used in cosmetics, it has the power to restructure, regenerate and purify which is why it is often an ingredient in anti-aging creams.
Vanilla is known around the world as a strong aphrodisiac and is still used as such in some parts of Central America and South America.
Cut a vanilla bean lengthwise and pull out the seeds with the tip of a knife.
The empty beans may be added into your sugar to give it more flavor! Ground vanilla beans are delicious when added to your yogurt, hot cereal or cakes. They are very fragrant which means that half a teaspoon is enough to flavor your dish!
Make your own vanilla essence with our easy recipe: Perfect vanilla essence
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The Mayans and Aztecs filled their drinks with cocoa and several vanilla beans. This drink, intended only for nobles and warriors, was called Xocoalt.
Ground vanilla beans can be kept for 6 months in the fridge. They should be kept in an air-tight container.
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