Vanilla: The queen of spices
Posted on March 09 2017 by Amina Karic
What is Vanilla?
Vanilla is a flavor derived from orchids. There are more than 110 kinds of Vanilla. The plant is originally from Mexico. The vanilla beans that we typically use for cooking or baking is the vanilla planifolia species, more commonly known as Bourbon vanilla or Madagascar vanilla, which is produced in Madagascar and neighboring islands in the southwestern Indian Ocean, and in Indonesia.
Only the melipona bee, found in Central America, can pollinate vanilla. In other parts of the world, humans duplicate the process using a wooden needle. The flower that produces the vanilla bean lasts only one day. The beans are hand-picked and then cured, wrapped, and dried in a process that takes 4 to 6 months. Due to the complicated and lengthy fermentation process vanilla is the second most expensive spice of the world, after saffron. This is also why vanilla is commonly called “The Queen of Spices”.
How to use vanilla?
The main flavor carrier of vanilla is the pod itself. To extract the unique aroma from the pod you can simply let it simmer in milk or cream. The vanilla milk or vanilla cream can then be used as base for sauces. Keep in mind that vanilla pods are reusable. Meaning you should always clean your vanilla pods after cooking them in liquid so you can make sure to use it again next time.
Traditionally all your favorite desserts like puddings and ice cream taste amazing with some vanilla aroma. In fact, did you know that 30% of Americans choose vanilla ice cream as their No. 1 flavor? But vanilla isn’t limited to sweet dishes! It can also add great taste to white meat, deer, fish and lobster.
Feeling lazy? If you want to save some time and avoid the boiling down of the vanilla, vanilla powder is a great and simple way – and it is still super tasty! After all, our only seasoning that contains vanilla is our best-selling Oatmeal Spice Blend. Not only your secret weapon for the morning oatmeal but also all purpose seasoning when it comes to sweet dishes or desserts like oatmeal cookies.