Vanilla - Verstegen Algemeen

Vanilla

The spice vanilla is a bean that grows on a creeper that belongs to the orchid family. This is the only orchid with edible fruits (beans). The plant needs a constant tropical moist temperature of 24 to 29 degrees Celsius. The vanilla plant needs a shady environment with plenty of sun to grow in. After 3 years, the vanilla plant is fully grown and produces good quality beans. The bean then has a length between 14 and 26 cm.

Origin of vanilla

Vanilla was not discovered until the 16th century and in Mexico. The origin of the spice therefore lies in Latin America. Here the beans were naturally pollinated by the Melipone, but it only occurs in these historical areas of origin. Since the 19th century, the beans have been manually pollinated and vanilla can also be grown in other parts of the world. Today the beans are still pollinated manually. After saffron, vanilla is therefore the most expensive spice due to its labor intensity.

Using vanilla in the kitchen

Vanilla is mainly used in sweet dishes and drinks, such as ice cream, puddings and cakes. Vanilla is also often used in soft drinks. The most common way to process vanilla is to cut the beans lengthwise, scrape out the pith with a knife and let it steep in a warm liquid, usually milk or cream. The typical vanilla scent is only released when the bean is opened. The full taste of vanilla is partly due to the amount of sugars and amino acids that vanilla contains.