The mere mention of vanilla cake, vanilla custard or vanilla ice cream makes us drool! This vanilla flavor is relished all over the world. Only some of us are aware of its source and origin.

Let us know more about this flavor -Vanilla that has been a part of sumptuous desserts for centuries.

The vanilla ice cream and other desserts that we love eating attribute their flavor to the presence of vanilla extract which is derived from vanilla beans. These beans are sun-dried pods obtained from the orchids of the genus Vanilla. Its amazingly soft and sweet flavor and fragrance make it a popular ingredient in sweet drinks and confectioneries. These beans are obtained through a labor-intensive process.


• The vanilla plant is an herbaceous climbing vine which requires a supporting tree or pole for optimal growth. It bears trumpet-shaped flowers which are naturally pollinated by bees and humming birds and even hand pollinated.

• Unripe vanilla pods turn yellow when they grow 5 to 8 inches long and are ready to harvest. These are then blanched in boiling water, sweated and sun dried for a few weeks until they turn dark brown and wrinkled.

• Then the white crystalline essence known as vanillin is extracted from some superior quality beans. This essence is referred to as the vanilla flavour.

The most common form of vanilla is vanilla extract which is prepared by percolating chopped vanilla beans in ethyl alcohol and water for about 48 hours. The mixture is stored for several months and then filtered. Several varieties of vanilla are available in the market of which Madagascar vanilla is the most widely used. This rich sweet variety accounts for 75% of the vanilla production while the remaining comprises of vanilla from Tahiti and Mexico.

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