It’s Good To Know: Vanilla sky

Vanilla is a flavouring derived from orchids and native to Mexico. However, nowadays Mexico only produces 2.9% of the world’s vanilla.

The main producer is Madagascar (6,200 tonnes or 59% or worldwide production, followed by Indonesia, 23%, and China, 10%) where vanilla is one of the major export income for the country.

Vanilla grows as a vine, climbing up an existing tree, pole, or any other support. The distinctively flavoured compounds are found in the fruit, which results from the pollination of the flower. The flowers can only be naturally pollinated by a specific bee found only in Mexico. Growers have tried to bring this bee into other growing locales with no success. The only way to produce fruits is thus artificial pollination.

The vanilla flower lasts about one day, sometimes less, thus growers have to inspect their plantations every day for open flowers, a labour-intensive task. The fruit if left on the plant, will ripen and open at the end; it will then release the distinctive vanilla smell. The fruit contains tiny, flavourless seeds.

Have you ever wondered what are those little black specks on your favourite vanilla ice cream? That means that they used whole natural vanilla, the little black dots are the seeds.

Source: Wikipedia and www

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