Surprising facts you didn’t know about vanilla
Some people love it, some don’t. Most people in the US say that vanilla is their favorite ice cream flavor. Whether you like it or not, you’ll be amazed by how many things you actually didn’t know about this little beauty.
The story of vanilla is everything but ordinary. Vanilla is the only fruit-bearing member of the orchid family. It is also the only edible fruit of the orchid family, the largest family of flowering plants in the world. Here is something we bet you didn’t know – there are over 150 varieties of vanilla plants!
No two vanilla beans are the same in flavor, aroma or color.
Now here’s an interesting fact! Did you know that the flower that produces the vanilla bean lasts only one day? How amazing is that? It’s almost poetic when you think about it.
Vanilla beans are hand-picked and then cured, wrapped, and dried in a process that takes 4 to 6 months. That’s a lot of time, but we believe it’s worth it! Vanilla is grown in a hot, moist, tropical climate, close to the equator.
The spice we all love is one of the most expensive spices in the world after saffron.
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.
One tablespoon of vanilla extract has 37 calories, a large portion of which comes from sugars and alcohol.
President Thomas Jefferson was the first American to bring vanilla to the United States in 1789.
There are many different uses of vanilla. In Europe, vanilla was once used in the production of certain medicines such as nerve stimulants and was also used as an aphrodisiac. Vanilla is not only used as a flavor in foods and beverages but also in perfumes. Maybe your favorite perfume contains a bit of vanilla.
Vanilla has many industrial applications such as a flavoring for medicines and as a fragrance to conceal the strong smell of rubber tires, paint and cleaning products.
The definition of the word vanilla is “little pod” in Spanish. The Aztecs called vanilla tlilxóchitl, which means black flower. This shows that they were more interested in the cured bean, which is a dark brown, rather than the flower itself which is a greenish white.
Vanilla first left Mexico in the early 1500s on ships that were bound for Spain. It was originally believed that vanilla only had value as a perfume. It wasn’t 1519 that the Spaniards learned it was also a flavor.
Until the late 19th century, Mexico had the monopoly on growing vanilla plants. Nowadays Madagascar and Indonesia grow the majority of the world’s vanilla crop. Countries that also grow vanilla include Guatemala, Costa Rica, Uganda, China, India, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Fiji, Tahiti and the Philippines.
We hope you loved the vanilla story. As we said at the beginning – it is everything but ordinary. After reading all this you have to admit you’re a bit surprised to learn all this about vanilla. We think a story about vanilla is a beautiful one.
We love using vanilla to add delicious flavor to our food. If you love vanilla as much as we do, we recommend you try our Homemade Nutella pancakes topped with vanilla sauce and water sticks. Or maybe our Red Velvet Waffle with vanilla cream-cheese, fresh strawberries, walnuts and chocolate sauce.