Thursday, 25 April 2013

A-Z Challenge --"V" is for Vanilla Bean

Well, Hello there!!! I am so pleased that you stopped by  to visit!

    For the past many years I have had an, make that a fascination with herbs, spices and seasonings. - About how they were used by our ancestors centuries ago for a variety of ailments, and how they are used today to enhance your favorite recipe.

With this in mind I am attempting to present a different herb, spice or seasoning  for each day of the  A-Z Challenge. Please drop by often and perhaps we both will learn something new.

Learn more about these terms
"V" is for Vanilla Bean


These last few "letters" are really making it so difficult to produce posts. Sort of like coming to the end of the long walk, you can see your destination but....... and it is uphill all the way! There were only two options.One was Vietnamese Cassia Cinnamon which was featured before and the other is.....

Vanilla is the fruit of an orchid plant, which grows in the form of a bean pod. Although there are over 110 varieties of vanilla orchids, only one, Vanilla planifolia, produces the fruit which gives us 99 percent of commercial vanilla. Another genus, the Vanilla tahitensis grown in Tahiti, does produce fruit with a more pronounced aroma, but debatable  less flavor. 

In order to produce the fruit, the orchid flowers are laboriously hand-pollinated at a very specific time of the day when the flowers are open during a short one-month flowering period. The fruit is not permitted to fully-ripen, since this will cause the beans to split, thus losing commercial value. Hand-harvesting occurs four to six months after the fruit appears on the vines. 

Once harvested, the green beans go through a treatment process lasting another six months where the beans are soaked in hot water, rolled in blankets to "sweat," dried on flats in the sun to evaporate the water, and then stored in a ventilated room to slowly ferment and produce their unique aroma and flavor. 

The resulting dark brown vanilla bean is usually 7-9 inches long, weighs about 5 grams and yields about 1/2 teaspoon of seeds. 

All this talk about the smell and favor on vanilla has made me hungry. I think this recipe for Vanilla Bean Cake has to be fantastic. 

Medicinal Uses:

Ancient Mayans believed that vanilla drink was supposed to have aphrodisiac qualities. No modern research study, however, establishes its role in the treatment of sexual dysfunctions.

Its extract contains small amounts of  vitamins such as niacin, pantothenic acid, thiamin, riboflavin and vitamin B-6. These vitamins help in enzyme synthesis, nervous system function and regulating body metabolism.

This spice also contains small traces of minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, manganese, iron and zinc. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps control heart rate and blood pressure. Manganese and copper are used by the body as co-factors for an antioxidant enzyme. Iron is essential for red blood cell production.

  • Clockwise from "noon": Ginger,Parsley, Whole Allspice,Bay Leaves,Mustard Seed, Rosemary,Garlic, Cardamom, Herb de Provence, Whole Nutmeg, Cloves, and Dillweed. 

                                                                 Hands: Cinnamon Stick and Vanilla Bean




The material provided on this site is designed for information and educational purposes only. The materials are not intended to be a self diagnostic and/or self treatment tool. I encourage you to use this information as a tool for discussing your condition with your health practitioner.    *The medicinal usages are for informational and educational purposes only*


  1. I had no idea it came from an orchid! Certainly one of my favorite flavors and scents

    1. Hi, Janet. I didn't realize that it came from that family either..... either way it is one of my favs as well. Enjoy the Challenge...

      Patricia, Sugar & Spice & All Things ? Nice

  2. No I didn't know that either. I must confess I use the pure extract more often than I use the bean/seeds although the seeds have a so much more intense flavour. I had no idea how they pods were produced either, imagine hand pollinating, incredible


    1. I have a bottle of the pure extract here that my hubby used when he made ice-cream at a local dairy. It is the "real McCoy" and when I use it, I cut the required amt in 1/2 to 1/4 as it is much stronger than the "store bought" type.

      I would generally be considered a worker, but can't imagine had pollinating a whole tree of blooms at a time!!!

  3. I found out something new today, I did not know that Vanilla Bean is from a orchid :) Great post! I love the smell of vanila

  4. This is a great theme! I can't believe I didn't find your blog sooner. Good luck with the rest of the challenge!

  5. I love vanilla and just recently bought a couple vials of pods and I cannot wait to start baking....crème brulé would be the perfect way to start using those pods!!