Vanilla is the most romantic spice in the world, because its pods are the fruits of a wonderful orchid. At home, vanilla flowers pollinate the smallest hummingbirds in the world. Their existence is geographically very limited, and vanilla can grow only far from hummingbirds with human help; it has to be pollinated manually.
It is not easy to do: flowers open only once a day and for a very short time.
This is such a spice — an extraordinary sissy!
Vanilla — immature, fermented and sun dried long thin pods of a climbing tropical plant Vanilla planifolia.
After a long fermentation, the green pods decrease in weight by four times, become dark brown and acquire their own unique flavor.
Vanilla’s homeland is South Mexico, and its modern name is derived from Spanish vainilla, in turn going back to latin vagina, meaning both the “sheath” (the shape of the pod really resembles a narrow sheath), and … a female intimate organ.
Ancient Aztecs cultivated vanilla, they called it tlilxochitl (black flower) and added chocolatl (chocolatl) from cocoa beans, honey, hot water, red pepper to the chocolate drink.
The first European to try «Divine nectar», was Hernan Cortes, and this significant event occurred November 14, 1519.
In gratitude for the food in less than three years, the great Aztec capital Tenochtitlan was completely destroyed.
And the ancient recipe is still used — it turned out that vanilla successfully emphasizes the taste of chocolate.
At the beginning of the 16th century, the Spanish conquistadors brought the pods of the “black flower”, then vanilla cost very expensive and was delivered exclusively to the royal table.
Interestingly, the Americans (meaning immigrants from Europe), whose pods grew literally under their noses, were really addicted to vanilla only at the end of the 18th century, after Thomas Jefferson (author of the Declaration of Independence) who had visited France (the Declaration of Independence) tasted spice that gourmet french dessert.
Probably, the slogan “Give vanilla to the masses” was perceived by the masses with understanding and glee, and by the XIX century, Americans could not imagine how to enjoy life without vanilla ice cream: according to experts, in 1932 75–80% produced in the USA ice cream was just vanilla.
Vanilla pods harvested green.
If they are allowed to ripen at the gathering place, they will open up and lose commercial value.
They are subjected to semi-annual processing: first soaked in water, then wrapped in cloth to sweat, then dried in the sun to evaporate the water … And finally, they are left to refocus in a ventilated room, where the pods will develop their unique aroma and taste.
Vanilla (rare among spices) does not have strong healing properties.
Except for one thing: her beautiful festive and homely scent can lift your spirits and can help in the treatment of depression.
There are more than one hundred orchids of vanilla family in the world, but Vanilla planifolia provides 99% vanilla on the market. Another 1% is accounted for Vanilla tahitensis come from Tahiti. She has a pleasant aroma, but the taste can not even be compared with the market leader.
Vanilla orchids grow in the tropics Mexico, Reunion, Uganda, Tongo, Tahiti and Indonesia, but the supplier of the highest quality vanilla is Madagascar.
Traditionally, vanilla and its derivatives are used in desserts: milk puddings, ice cream, sweet sauces. But vanilla can be seasoning and to savory dishes: fat meat and poultry, some types of fish and seafood.
Vanilla sugar is easy to make by placing the vanilla pod cut along the fine crystalline sugar and sealing it for 3–5 days.
Vanilla extract is an infrequent visitor in our stores, but you can easily make it like at home. 3-4 pods of very fresh vanilla need to be finely chopped on the surface, from which it will be easy to collect all the precious seeds, and put them in a tightly closed glass jar (it must first be boiled and dried).
Pour in 1/2 glass of vodka, close and place in a dark place for at least 1 month.
But the aroma and taste of the “extract” that stood for 6 months is much better.
The larger and thicker the pods, the more valuable seeds in them.
High-quality vanilla is always shiny and stored in a sealed package (the most valuable varieties are one pod each, in transparent sealed cones).
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