From ice creams to baked and culinary items, vanilla is almost used everywhere. This spice is made of orchids that belong to the Vanilla family. This spice got its name from vanilla which translates to the little pod. Thus, its name refers to the fact that vanilla is obtained from the Mexican pods of this species. And the flavoring agent of this spice comes from its pods.
Vanilla has three different varieties, i.e., west Indian vanilla, Bourbon or Mexican vanilla, and Tahiti vanilla. And all of them are the native species of South America, Mexico, and Central America. This spice is used to add flavor to a wide range of edible items and even drinks. Especially, the addition of this spice in chocolates adds a great taste to them and enhances their flavor. Vanilla was an unknown species in most parts of the world until it reached Europe, which boosted its use and increased its fame.
What does Vanilla Look Like?
The plants of vanilla spice have long and fleshy stems. The stems are attached to the trees through ariel rootlets. The plant contains numerous flowers which open at different times during the season of blooming. Once the flowers open, they last around two months. That’s due to the dainty structure of the flowers. The color of vanilla flowers varies based on their type, including creamy white, pale green, and yellow colors. When the fruits grow, their length becomes around 20 cm. And it may take around 4 to 6 weeks for that. But for the fruits to get completely mature, you have to wait around 9 months.
Where does Vanilla Come From?
The original vanilla comes from Mexico, which is the birthplace of this spice. For centuries, this spice remained a secret ingredient in the Totonac Indian cuisines until other people got acquainted with it. Its fame in other parts of the world started after when Aztecs conquered Totonac Indians. On his way back to Spain, he brought this secret ingredient to the country. And gradually, its use spread all over Europe and ultimately to other parts of the world. Today, vanilla is the most used flavoring agent in all cuisines worldwide.
How is Vanilla Made?
Vanilla is mainly used for its famous vanilla extract. And that’s is super easy to make. For making vanilla extract, you should take vanilla beans. Cut them in half lengthwise. You can use a knife and scissors for this. Then, put the cut beans in the jar and add alcohol. Shake the alcohol-filled jar very well. Afterward, select a dark and cool place and place the jar there. Leave it on the same spot for around two months. Remember, the longer you put it, the tastier it will become. But don’t leave it untouched. Make sure to shake it after every few days.
What Does Vanilla Taste Like?
Vanilla’s popularity is due to its exceptional taste. This herb gives a combined flavor of smoky, woody, and sweet taste. Besides, it also has a very perfumed aroma. Therefore, Mexican vanilla is considered the tastier of all types. And it is always in high demand among people with a good sense of taste.
How is Vanilla Used in Cooking?
For cooking, people mostly use vanilla extract. And using this spice does not demand high expertise. Just a few drops of its extract in your cuisines will add a great flavor to it. It is often combined with eggs and few other ingredients in the baked items.
What Types of Cuisines Use Vanilla?
Vanilla is normally used in baked items, ice creams, sauces, and beverages. In baked items, vanilla is a must ingredient. This is because it plays a very important role in enhancing the flavor. While it is also used in hot and cold beverages like milk, tea, coffee, etc.
What is a Vanilla Substitute?
Vanilla is a substitutable product. You can easily substitute it with other ingredients like citrus zest, maple syrup, almond extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom. So, next time when you get out of vanilla, use these ingredients. They cannot give the exact flavor or vanilla, but they will make good substitutes.
Where to Buy Vanilla?
Since vanilla is used in a wide range of cuisines, you will hardly find any grocery store that does not have this spice. Plus, there are numerous brands offering vanilla, making the right choice of the product even more difficult. But don’t worry because we have picked the few best products for you. These products have better quality and taste than the others. These products are named in the below list.