V is for Vanilla

I reopened the freezer, took out the Whole Foods French Vanilla Bean Ice Cream. Even though I was doing this in secret, it cannot have stayed unnoticed for long, but I never heard any remarks regarding my guilty little pleasure.

I always appreciated the taste of vanilla, it was probably that ice cream when I was a teen that made me discover it. I did not know at that time that French Vanilla Bean actually has little to do with France. Normally it is called “Bourbon Vanilla”, in honour of the French dynasty, and refers to a specific origin: Madagascar and La Réunion. For a long time that was all I knew about vanilla, which was prominent to me in the form of vanilla extract and over-priced pods that were rather dry and twig-like.

But vanilla doesn’t have to be that way, actually it should not be that way. Vanilla should be fresh when it is bought, moist to certain point, but not too wet either. It has may different origins (originally from Mexico) that are characterised by different sizes, textures, flavours, and smells. When it comes to cooking with vanilla, you are not limited to deserts only.

What else about vanilla?

  • It’s hand-pollinated
  • Most of it comes from Madagascar
  • Mexico mostly exports to the US
  • Tahitian vanilla is the most expensive
  • It is not yellow!
  • I will soon post on a great book about vanilla.

Written by Solveig Werner

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15 thoughts on “V is for Vanilla – A to Z Challenge April 2015

  1. When I was little I asked my grandfather – ‘What’s your favourite flavour of ice-cream?’ he told me it was vanilla and I thought that an unimaginative answer. Later I realised that vanilla is the foundation, and that the flavour is so complex and varied that it was I who was being unimaginative in that instant. I’ve come to appreciate vanilla!

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    1. Well maybe moist it’s the wrong term, it’s not dry but fatty in a way.
      I can recommend Tahitian vanilla which is so unique in flavour but also appearance and price…

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    1. It is. In Mexico there is an insect who can do the job (but I don’t think that even there we rely on it) but in the rest of the world it is done by hand. They had vanilla growing in Reunion and never any fruits until a slave found out how to do the pollination, it does seem quite complicated.

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  2. Reading about vanilla ice cream just made me crave some lol My favorite is cookies n cream but vanilla was originally my favorite. Very interesting facts about vanilla, I didn’t know it’s hand-pollinated.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Did you have some?
      If it weren’t hand-pollinated we’d only have Mexican vanilla (I guess lower numbers too) and the odd self-pollinated crop here and there.

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