Vanilla - Queen of Spices
Vanilla, The Queen of Spices
Origin of Vanilla
Vanilla has its origin in Mexico and was discovered and cultivated by the Aztec.In the Year 1822 brought the French the Vanilla plant to the Island Bourbon today called Reunion and started cultivation thereof.
Vanilla (botanical name: V. Fragrans / Planifolia)
Today the Vanilla grows around the globe in a warm, humid, subtropical climate. In the trade it is differentiated in length and country of origin: the Planifolia V. from Madagascar and the island of Reunion is called Bourbon. The variety planifolia from India is competitive in taste and aroma with the Bourbon variety, but must not be called bourbon vanilla. Its cocoa aroma of the Planifolia from India is very distinctive and is due to the soil quality and the professional cultivation. The largest producers of the spice today are Madagascar and India. Smaller growing areas are Reunion, Tahiti, Tanzania, and Mexico.
Production of the Queen of Spice
The spice plant is a ranking vine (Orchid) and is left to tendril around trees. The trees spend the necessary shade for the plant and its fruits to flourish. In its third year, the orchid flowers the first time for up to twelve years.
Pollination of the Vanilla Orchid
The Vanilla orchid is in flower only in the wee hours of the morning. In Mexico, the Melipona Bee and a special kind of a hummingbird pollinate the orchid. If the pollination doesn't take place in these hours the pods don't grow. The cultivation nowadays takes place by hand and is very time-consuming.
In the early hours of the morning during the flowering time, the plant is pollinated by hand with wooden sticks, just like toothpicks. Twenty-four hours after successful pollination, the plant builds the pods, which grow for the next 4- 6 weeks to the desired 13-20 cm long beans.
Cultivars and Quality of Vanilla
TodayVanillaa grows around the globe in the warm and humid climate of the subtropics. Commerce distinguishes the quality of the beans by its length and its origin.
Madagascar Papua New Guinea and India are the world's leading producers of Vanilla beans, smaller growing areas: Island Reunion, Tahiti, Tanzania, and Mexico.
The length of the beans varies from 13 cm to 20 cm, as their color from red to black Gourmet.
The processing industry uses the beans (13-15 cm ) or cuts - broken pods.
End customers, gastronomy, and ice manufacture use the black gourmet pods with a length of 16-18 cm with 1,7-2 % Vanillin.
Vanilla and their Origins
The Planifolia from Madagascar and the Island Reunion carry the name Bourbon Vanilla whereas the Planifolia from India is in taste and aroma comparable with the Bourbon from Madagascar. The prominent cocoa aroma from the Planifolia rises from the quality of the soil in India.
Tahitensis vanilla from Papua New Guinea has a distinct anise aroma and is preferred used for the preparation of ice cream. This kind of pod is a hybrid of the Pompona and Planifolia. The most aromatic pods of this variety are 16-18 cm long.
The Tahitensis from the island of Tahiti is very rare. There is only a small amount available for the world market. European Chefs preferred this type of Vanilla.
Very thick and bendable pods indicate the Tahiti vanilla with a round flowery smell of anise and wild prunes.
Spices should be stored in an airtight box at a temperature around 15 °C in a dark and dry place.