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Vanilla: how to choose and what to do with it

Vanilla is most often used for making desserts and baking. Here is the most common idea of ​​using this spice.

And few people know that the possibilities of vanilla are much wider.

And only units are able to choose it.

The vanilla pods in the store are dark brown, almost black, 17–22 cm long.

Inside the pod is from a quarter to 0.5 tsp. seeds. Vanilla has the sweetest aroma of all spices, although it tastes poignantly bitter. Particularly appreciated the length of the pod.

There is even such a thing: “exquisite long» vanilla.

In nature — the genus of perennial vines. The Latin name comes from isp. vainilla — «pod». After harvesting, whole fresh pods are blanched, fermented and dried for 4–6 months.

Light pods become dark brown, after which they are usually packaged in glass tubes.

On the vanilla plantation

Where does vanilla grow and how does it differ from each other

The most popular varieties of vanilla grow in Mexico, Madagascar and Tahiti.

Mexican vanilla It has a strong sweet-spicy aroma with light woody notes.

Vanilla with a little Reunion Islands, which is a little east Madagascar, called «bourbon«.

She has a complex, active, slightly wine smell and a sweet, creamy taste.

It is great for baking, because it stably keeps its smell at high temperatures.

An employee of the Sambava manufactory in Madagascar checks the quality of vanilla pods

Vanilla with Tahiti it is distinguished by thinner pod walls, which are shorter and thicker than others and more juicy than Madagascar vanilla.

Tahitian vanilla has an unusually rich aroma, which is described as the aroma of cherry, prune or licorice.

We advise you to choose pods that are plastic, smooth, and oily to the touch, which can be bent without breaking.

A raid of white crystals on the surface — vanillin — a sign of quality vanilla.

First of all, cut the vanilla pod along the entire length, not cutting through, but opening like a book. With the blunt side of the knife, scrape the seeds. Soak the pod itself in milk or cream if you plan to use vanilla milk.

Or cook homemade vanilla sugar (see below for cooking recommendations).

Remember, the pod itself is not edible!

For an attractive aroma and characteristic rich sweet taste — add vanilla seeds to ice cream and puddings, creams and mousses, sauces and syrups, baking and porridge, jam and even in tea.

For the harmony of taste and connection between the various ingredients — add vanilla in cream sauces, in the dough for pancakes, in the egg-milk mixture for omelets (sweet and salty).

Add vanilla to fried or grilled meat, bird, game and seafood — better in the form of a mixture of vanilla seeds with olive oil «extra virgin«.

To soften the sharpness — add vanilla to citrus, to reduce acid — in tomato sauces.

To add depth and brightness — add vanilla to out-of-season greenhouse fruits and berries.

Use vanilla to enhance the natural sweet taste of vegetables — when frying potatoes, onions, garlic, carrots, pumpkins, tomatoes; For a delicate and subtle taste — add to vegetable salads and green salad mixes.

What can be vanilla derivatives

In stores it is easy to find vanilla not only in the form of pods.

There are, for example, vanilla essence and vanilla sugar (or powdered sugar with vanilla).

Vanilla extract — an alcohol solution infused over crushed vanilla pods for several months. Vanilla essence — a type of solution with a high content of vanilla. When buying, examine the label.

It should be written natural vanilla flavor, What means «the product contains pure extract or essence«.

Before cooking, be sure to check the quality and “strength” of the extract and essence on a small amount of dough or a portion of the sauce.

It is very easy to overdo these vanilla derivatives — down to poisoning!

Vanilla sugar it is also sold in stores, but we recommend preparing it yourself, by pouring (literally inserting) 2 vanilla pods 500 g of fine granulated sugar.

It remains only to keep the sugar in a sealed container at room temperature for at least 7 days, stirring it periodically.

If you still buy sugar or caster sugar with vanilla in the store, pay attention to its “structure” (in the caster sugar it appears especially brightly).

Among the sugar or powder should be visible black spots — this is just vanilla seeds.

Well, the taste and aroma should be appropriate for the product — vanilla.

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