That Wonderful Vanilla Bean

by Lee Wyatt
(last updated January 26, 2015)

Vanilla (or as it is known scientifically Vanilla planifolia) has long been considered the "Queen of Seasonings" due to the strength of its unique flavor and its all around usefulness. For example, vanilla can make just about anything sweet just a little bit sweeter, make your fruit dishes just that much more fragrant, and can even sooth the aggressive tastes of chocolate and coffee. All around, vanilla is a truly benign ruler in its ability to lend strength and elegance to just about any kind of a dish.

Vanilla is actually the fruit of a type of orchid flower that originally only grew in Mexico. In fact, it was the Spanish explorers of Mexico that first gave this flower the name "vainilla," from which we know derive the name Vanilla. Depending on who you ask, the name originally meant small pod, or little scabbard. However, now it is simply the name of one of the most famous flavors on the planet.

While the vanilla orchid plant was originally a native of Mexico, it has since been transplanted all around the world. However, the plant is a very temperamental little thing, and can only grow well in a hot climate. As a result of this, the best vanilla beans come from the countries of Madagascar and Mexico. The vanilla orchid is an exquisitely beautiful plant that has shiny leaves, which also tends to be a bit heavy. When it flowers, the vanilla orchid will stay in bloom up until the flower gives way to the cluster of long green pods which takes its place. These green pods are what we call the vanilla bean.

Speaking in a culinary sense, vanilla has a wide variety of uses. While it can, and often is, used as a flavoring, one of its strongest uses comes in its ability to bring out the good in other ingredients. For example have you ever noticed how a cake recipe often calls for one teaspoon of vanilla? This is not to give the cake a vanilla taste, but rather to hide and down play the taste of the flour and eggs, while bringing out the taste of the other ingredients—like chocolate. Vanilla is also used around the world in a variety of other ways ranging from being used in perfume manufacturing and aromatherapy. Unfortunately, there is no manmade equivalent of this spice which can approach its versatility, though work is still continuing on developing one.

Author Bio

Lee Wyatt

Contributor of numerous Tips.Net articles, Lee Wyatt is quickly becoming a regular "Jack of all trades." He is currently an independent contractor specializing in writing and editing. Contact him today for all of your writing and editing needs! Click here to contact. ...

MORE FROM LEE

Choosing Your Houseplants

Whether you have a huge house or a tiny apartment, house plants can help brighten up any home. That is, if you have chosen ...

Discover More

Helping Wisteria Bloom

Wisteria is a beautiful climbing vine that can add a touch of elegance and mystery to just about any landscape design. But ...

Discover More

Chicken Salad

Chicken salad is one of the easiest salads to make, and beloved of light sandwiches around. Not only is it exceptionally ...

Discover More
More Cooking Tips

Cardamom

Cardamom is an often overlooked and under-rated spice. Surprisingly, this spice has a taste that is similar to ginger, but ...

Discover More

Best Ways to Store Fresh Herbs

Fresh herbs tend to be better for cooking than dried ones. There is, however, the problem of keeping herbs fresh for as long ...

Discover More

Cooking with Fresh Ginger Root

If you love Asian flavors, you're familiar with ginger. Find out how to store it make it last as long as possible.

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Receive an e-mail several times each week with a featured cooking tip. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is two less than 2?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


Videos

Subscribe to the Tips.Net channel:

Visit the Tips.Net channel on YouTube

Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Receive an e-mail several times each week with a featured cooking tip. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)