Vanilla beans are used in many foods, such as cakes and drinks. Vanilla gives a special taste and odor that will invite your appetite. What are vanilla beans? How does it make food so nice? Let’s find out.
Vanilla, The Best Spice For Sweet Foods And Drinks That Came From Mesoamerica
Vanilla beans come from the plant of the Vanilla genus, like Vanilla planifolia. This name is taken from Italia’s word vaina, which means pod. Vanilla is a kind of plant that produces a pod with the beans in it, such as green peas or soy.
This plant can be found in many countries, but the famous ones are from Mexico, Tahiti, Madagascar, and Indonesia. The plantation of this plant is difficult and needs many workers, so this commodity becomes the second winner of the most expensive spices in the world. The first one is saffron.
People believe that the Aztec Mesoamerica people were the first to plant vanilla. They called it tlilzochitl. One day, Hernan Cortes, a European explorer after his visit to America. He also brought chocolate with him. It’s understandable because Mesoamerica’s people use vanilla for their chocolate drinks. So that’s how European got this excellent tasty spice and started planting it.
How To Plant Vanilla Beans?
In Hernan Cortes’s time, to plant vanilla, people needed the help from Melipona bees, that only live in Central America. A botanical expert from Belgium knew this and tried to find pollination without the bees. But he can’t find it. Somehow, a slayer found the simple pollination from Reunion island, Edmond Albius, in 1841. After that, people can plant vanilla all over the world.
Natural planting takes a lot of time, and it grows naturally like orchids. However, lately, since the profit margin is relatively high, most vanilla farmers plant it from cutting. Put the cutting in the fertile land. Some farmers can grow vanilla together with cocoa or other trees. As they act like orchids, then they can grow well together. So that the farmer can harvest both of the plants, other farmers plant vanilla on a pole.
Most vanilla farmers plant three species of this genus:
- Vanilla tahitensis that planted in South Pacific countries.
- Vanilla planifolia that farmed in Madagaskar, Reunion, and other tropical countries in the Hindia Ocean.
- Vanilla pompona that planted in the west area of Honda Ocean, Central America, and Latin America.
Of these three special, Vanilla planifolia is the most widely planted. The reason is that this species can produce more vanilla extract than the others.
Vanilla plants grow like other vines, so they need other plants or a pole. Naturally, these plants need a little sunshine so that they can grow well on the branch of a tree. In Reunion, people grow this plant while they plant trees in forestation.
It has green leaves with an oval shape. The flowers appear only a day. When the flower grows, it comes time to do the pollination process. As the natural pollination will take time, farm workers help the flower to do pollination. This makes the workers should check around the plantation to find the flowers and help them to do the pollination every day. That’s why vanilla plantations need a lot of workers.
After the pollination, the pod will appear and grow. It will be ripe after six months. As the flowers aren’t grown together, the pod will be the same. They won’t be ripe together. Workers should only harvest the ripe ones at the right time. If it is too ripe, the pod will break, and the beans will separate. It will decrease the harvested beans. But if harvested too soon, the pod will have only a few beans. This can reduce the products, too. But for this too soon harvested pod, it still can dry up to become spice, but the price will be lower than the ripe ones.
How To Get The Vanilla Beans?
Vanilla beans can get by cutting the dried pod with a sharp knife. This will divide it into two long pieces. Take one of them. Use a spoon to collect the seed from one side to another. Do the same to the other cut. Put the seed in a dry can and close it tight. The skin also can use as ingredients for drinks and food.
Add vanilla seed to the cake’s ingredients at first to make sure it mixed well. If it adds at the end of the mixing process, it can be clotted. This will decrease the taste.
Vanilla beans are widely used as a spice for food and drinks. This special plant can grow in any kind of place and doesn’t need a lot of sunshine. These famous beans have become one of the most spice in the world.