Vanilla is one of many wonderful spices and flavorings to add to food. It is an airy space with a rich and intense taste that dates back to the ancient world when the first civilization began to harvest and process vanilla beans. Vanilla beans have a thin shell that protects the inner seed inside from the air, preserving the flavor for a longer shelf life. Vanilla beans are also high in antioxidants making them good for your health.
Vanilla is a light spice extracted from orchids belonging to the family of Vintonaceae, more commonly known as Vanilla Carrara. The common name for this spice is Vanilla, derived from the Spanish word vanilla, the diminutive of manna, the word for garbanzo. Vanilla beans themselves are noteed and thus cannot grow on the open plains or hills of Africa or the Arabia Desert. They are only found in places with dry climates and warm climates like Mexico, Brazil, Indonesia, Peru and the Caribbean.
Vanilla beans are high in oil content. This characteristic makes them a perfect ingredient for many dishes, from desserts to breads and stews. In fact, they are so versatile that the list of possible uses is quite long. Vanilla is added as a finishing touch to many recipes such as cakes, cookies, custards, ice cream and more. It can even be added as a flavoring to sauces and gravy mixes for deep-fried foods.
Vanilla beans are highly aromatic and can vary greatly depending on the specific bean. They can have a fruity or herbal flavor, a nutty or woodsy flavor, a spicy or sweet flavor or a totally clear and subtle flavor. Different varieties of vanilla bean produce varying amounts of flavor. Some varieties of vanilla have a prominent and pronounced flavor, whereas others offer a more subtle, earthy flavor.
Vanilla beans are used primarily as an ingredient for vanilla flavorings and flavoring. However, there are many recipes that call for vanilla beans but no other flavorings. As a result, the versatility of vanilla beans is much higher than one would imagine. Vanilla can be used as a main ingredient in baking recipes, breads, sweets and savory items, or it can be added to flavor other ingredients, creating a complex flavor profile.
When choosing a flavor type or brand to add to a recipe, it’s important to first choose a high intensity level of flavor. The flavor intensity of any given blend depends largely on the beans chosen to create the blend. The intensity level of a flavor will vary greatly based on the beans used, the quality of those beans, the quality of processing methods used and other variables. Therefore, it’s necessary to do some research to determine how similar a product will taste with different levels of intensity. If two recipes call for identical beans, but one adds a Madagascar vanilla bean and another uses a priority variety with a lower intensity level, it’s more important to choose the right means to achieve the desired results, which may require further study.