Not So Simple Vanilla

 

Vanilla Beans

Vanilla Beans

I’ve always really liked vanilla.  Even though it’s the most popular flavor, I don’t think it’s appreciated enough.

First, vanilla deserves recognition for being so botanically interesting.  Vanilla comes from the fruit of an orchid and it’s unique in that it’s the only orchid variety to have an edible fruit.

And vanilla is the most labor intensive agricultural product.  That’s why it’s so valuable and expensive.  In his book, Vanilla: Travels in Search of the Ice Cream Orchid, Tim Ecott explains that one U.S. importer of vanilla has to store his vanilla bean shipments in separate warehouses, miles apart.  The vanilla is worth so much that if it’s all stored in one location and something happens to that warehouse (such as a plane hitting the building), the company would be ruined.

 

Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Extract

Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Extract

Vanilla is remarkably complex.  Beth Nielsen, Chief Culinary Officer at Nielsen-Massey, a leading producer of vanilla and flavors, compares vanilla with wine.  The flavor profiles of both wine and vanilla vary depending on the growing region.  She typically uses Mexican vanilla in recipes with chocolate or in spicy dishes.  When using fruit, particularly berries or cherries, she adds Tahitian vanilla.  Madagascar Bourbon is the most popular type of vanilla and it’s her “go-to-gal” as it has the most universal flavor profile and will enhance any recipe.

Let’s not take vanilla for granted!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: