Interesting Facts

Tree covered with hearts [Submitted by Wikipedia User Johntex].›››  The aroma of vanilla is known as calming, relaxing and sensual - making vanilla an aphrodisiac.

››› Tummy-ache?  Vanilla can be used as a stomach sedative, and can help calm agonizing upset stomachs.

››› Red Chile Pepper.  [Taken by 	Luciano Roth Coelho.]Vanilla is an antacid and heat neutralizer, it can reduce the acidity, spiciness and add sweetness to citrus items, or hot foods!

››› Spiders don't like vanilla. Use whole vanilla beans to keep them away and at bay!

››› Vanilla has often been suggested to have addictive properties, but, luckily for the vanilla-lovers of the world, no studies have been fullyFree Stress-Test Table. [Taken by David Sifry]. conclusive. 

››› Stressed-out?  Vanilla has long been praised for its usefulness in aromatherapy in calming even the most strained nerves.  It has even been used to calm patients before MRI and CAT scans!

››› Another benefit of its powerful scent, vanilla can be used to mask other unpleasant, or strong odors. 


Several Beans.  [Taken by the Agricultural Research Service, the research agency of the USDA].››› The fruit of Vanilla is often improperly called a 'bean', but because Vanilla is not a legume, the products are typically referred to as 'pods.'

 

Interested in the trip from vine to the bottle of extract on your shelf...?

››› The journey from vine to extract is a lengthy three-step process: cultivation, curing, and extraction. 

    Dried Vanilla planifolia pods [Submitted by Wikipedia User Bouba].       Two bottles of Vanilla extract.  [Taken by Wikipedia User Glane23.]
››› Natural vanilla contains many compounds that artificial vanilla just can't match.  “Cured vanilla beans contain a large number of substances which include vanillin, secondary aromatic compounds, oils, resins, organic acids, sugar, gum, tannin, wax, cellulose, and water. The vanilla flavor is due to a complex mixture of aromatic aldehydes, alcohols, and esters. The full chemical composition of vanilla is still not thoroughly understood. Vanillin, a minor component of the ripe beans, is only one of the many natural flavorful constituents of the cured vanilla bean. Yet only vanillin is imitated. This vanilla flavoring, produced by chemical synthesis, lacks the flavors of the other natural constituents,” (Henderson and Knutton, 1991).

››› Many other plants contain the characteristic chemical vanillin, like, surprisingly, potatoes. 

Vial of Vanilla Extract.  [Submitted by Wikipedia User Itinerranttrader.]››› Vanilla extract itself is a very complicated product. "It consists of over 250 compounds and is the only flavor/extract in America which the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has strict standards of identity.  Vanilla extracts are made using vanilla beans, alcohol, and water. The majority of vanilla extracts on the retail market are a single-fold vanilla. This means the manufacturer must use 13.35 ounces of ground vanilla beans per gallon and have at least 35% alcohol," ("About Vanilla").  

››› So what exactly is "artificial vanilla"? "Artificial vanilla is not made with vanilla beans and is manufactured with a by-product from the paper industry. It is also produced from artificial flavors.  The two most commonly used chemicals are lignin vanillin or ethyl vanillin. Lignin vanillin is a by-product of the paper industry and is chemically treated to achieve a vanilla flavor.  Ethyl vanillin is a coal derivative,” ("About Vanilla")

››› Why exactly is vanilla so darn expensive?  40% of the total labor cost in vanilla production is the cost of hand pollination, the means by which nearly all vanilla is pollinated.

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