Origin: Vanilla bean natively belongs to Central Mexico. The ancient Totonac Indians of Mexico were the first to learn and discover the use of the Tlilxochitl vine, vanilla pods. Once they were defeated by the Aztecs, they took control over this fruit.
The Totonaca people of the Gulf Coast of Mexico were probably the first people to domesticate vanilla. They continue to cultivate the fruit that they consider was given to them by the gods. Vanilla is a sacred and very important part of their culture and their lives.
Later the Aztecs were defeated by the Spanish. The Spanish invaders returned home with the precious vanilla beans - which were used for many years and were enjoyed by the rich people. The vanilla beans and pods were considered a luxury and were quite expensive. After many years, vanilla pods and beans became popular throughout Europe.
Thomas Jefferson is the person who brought vanilla to the United States in the late 1700s. While serving his duty as an Ambassador to France, he learned the use of vanilla beans and brought vanilla beans with him to the U.S.
Nowadays, vanilla beans are produced in different varieties and have different attributes as well. Vanilla beans from different places have distinctive characteristics. These characteristics and attributes suit different uses.
Natively, the vanilla grew on the wild side of the Atlantic Gulf side of Mexico from Tampico around to the northeast tip of South America, and from Colima, Mexico to Ecuador on the Pacific side. It also grew throughout the Caribbean coast.
Scientifically: Vanilla is the fruit of an orchid plant, which grows in the form of a bean pod. Although there are over 110 varieties of vanilla orchids, only one, Vanilla planifolia, produces the fruit which gives us 99 percent of commercial vanilla.
It is derived from “a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material.
The real extract is thicker and darker in color and speckled with seed fragments. Vanillin produced naturally in the bean varies from place to place which results in different flavor profiles. Imitation vanillin extracted from lignin or guaiacol is very standard, rather than distinct.
Usage: Vanilla beans are known for their ethereal and exotic flavor. Vanilla beans are world-famous for vanilla ice cream, fruit yogurts, sorbets, and fruit toppings. Vanilla is also known as Flavored coffee and tea. Vanilla infuse candles and fragrances are preferred all over the world. Vanilla bean extract contains B-complex groups of vitamins such as niacin, pantothenic acid, thiamin, riboflavin, and vitamin B-6.
These vitamins and minerals like calcium, magnesium, potassium, manganese, iron, and zinc help in enzyme synthesis, nervous system function and regulating body metabolism. Vanilla beans are also known to improve sexual dysfunctions and control heart rate and blood pressure. It adds an interesting sweet flavor to sweet dishes, cakes, biscuits, desserts, and puddings. It is also used in other confectionary items to make chocolates, ice-creams, custards, chocolate, drinks, etc.
Below are some DIYs with vanilla:
- Take some vanilla extract and apply on the face for 10minutes. It has anti-bacterial properties, which helps in healing acne.
- Applying vanilla extract or vanilla essential oil on the wounds and cuts helps in healing and soothing the cuts.
- Take some fresh vanilla extract and add a teaspoon of aloe vera gel to it. Keep it on for 15 minutes and then rinse it. This remedy helps in reversing signs of aging and removes dark spots.
- take 5 vanilla beans to scrape out its seeds. Add these seeds along with 3 tablespoons brown sugar and 2 drops vanilla essential oil to freshly squeezed lemon juice. Mix all the ingredients together and apply it on your face. Massage for a few minutes and then rinse off with water. This remedy helps in promoting healthy skin and adds radiance to the face.