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Encyclopedia > Vanilla
Vanilla pods
Vanilla pods

Vanilla is a flavouring derived from orchids in the genus Vanilla native to Mexico. The name came from the Spanish word "vainilla," meaning "little pod."[1] Vanilla is valued for its sweet flavour and scent and is widely used in the preparation of desserts and perfumes. Today, the majority of the world's vanilla is produced in a small region on the island of Madagascar, an island in the Indian Ocean.[2] The term vanilla can have meanings other than its standard meaning: For vanilla as used in chemistry and flavouring see vanilla. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Size of this preview: 291 × 599 pixelsFull resolution (1057 × 2174 pixel, file size: 400 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) Vanilla : 6 beans Photo : B.navez - 27 NOV 2005 File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to... Image File history File linksMetadata Size of this preview: 291 × 599 pixelsFull resolution (1057 × 2174 pixel, file size: 400 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) Vanilla : 6 beans Photo : B.navez - 27 NOV 2005 File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to... Flavouring (CwE) or flavoring (AmE) is a product which is added to food in order to change or augment its taste. ... Orchid re-directs here; for alternate uses see Orchid (disambiguation) Genera Over 800 See List of Orchidaceae genera. ... Species List of Vanilla species Vanilla Plumier ex. ... Not to be confused with Desert. ... For other uses, see Perfume (disambiguation). ...

Contents

Vanilla orchid

Main article: Vanilla (orchid)

The main species harvested for vanillin is Vanilla planifolia. Although it is native to Mexico, it is now widely grown throughout the tropics. Madagascar is the world's largest producer. Additional sources include Vanilla pompona and Vanilla tahitiensis (grown in Tahiti), although the vanillin content of these species is much less than Vanilla planifolia[citation needed]. Species List of Vanilla species Vanilla Plumier ex. ... Vanillin, methyl vanillin, or 4-hydroxy-3-methoxybenzaldehyde, is an organic compound with the molecular formula C8H8O3. ... Tahiti is the largest island in the Windward group of the French Polynesia, located in the archipelago of Society Islands in the southern Pacific Ocean. ...


Vanilla grows as a vine, climbing up an existing tree, pole, or other support. It can be grown in a wood (on trees), in a plantation (on trees or poles), or in a "shader", in increasing orders of productivity. Left alone, it will grow as high as possible on the support, with few flowers. Every year, growers fold the higher parts of the plant downwards so that the plant stays at heights accessible by a standing human. This also greatly stimulates flowering. This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ...

Vanilla planifolia - flower.
Vanilla planifolia - flower.

The distinctively flavoured compounds are found in the fruit, which results from the pollination of the flower. One flower produces one fruit. Vanilla planifolia flowers are hermaphroditic: they carry both male (anther) and female (stigma) organs; however, to avoid self-pollination, a membrane separates those organs. As Charles François Antoine Morren, a Belgian botanist found, the flowers can only be naturally pollinated by a specific Melipone bee found in Mexico. Growers have tried to bring this bee into other growing locales, to no avail. The only way to produce fruits is thus artificial pollination. Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1427x953, 436 KB) Summary Photo & caption : B.navez - JAN 2006 Licensing File links The following pages link to this file: Vanilla ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1427x953, 436 KB) Summary Photo & caption : B.navez - JAN 2006 Licensing File links The following pages link to this file: Vanilla ... Carpenter bee with pollen collected from Night-blooming cereus Pollination is an important step in the reproduction of seed plants: the transfer of pollen grains (containing the male gametes, sperm) to the plant carpel of flowering plants, the structure that contains the ovule (which in turn houses the female gamete... In zoology, a hermaphrodite is a species that contains both male and female sexual organs at some point during their lives. ... Flower of the spider tree (Crateva religiosa) with its numerous conspicuous stamens The stamen is the male organ of a flower. ... The Pistil is the part of the flower made up of one or more carpels. ... Self-pollination is the activity that arises when a flower has both stamen and pistils. ... Pollination Management is the label for horticultural practices that accomplish or enhance pollination of a crop, to improve yield or quality, by understanding of the particular crops pollination needs, and by knowledgeable management of pollenizers, pollinators, and pollination conditions. ...


A simple and efficient artificial pollination method was introduced in 1841 by a 12-year-old slave named Edmond Albius on Réunion: a method still used today. Using a beveled sliver of bamboo,[3] an agricultural worker folds back the membrane separating the anther and the stigma, then presses the anther on the stigma. The flower is then self-pollinated, and will produce a fruit. The vanilla flower lasts about one day, sometimes less, thus growers have to inspect their plantations every day for open flowers, a labour-intensive task. Hand pollination (also called mechanical pollination) is a technique used when natural, or open pollination is insufficient or undesirable. ... Portrait of Edmond Albius, circa 1863 Edmond Albius (1829 - 9 August 1880) was an important figure in the cultivation of vanilla. ...


The fruit (a seed capsule), if left on the plant, will ripen and open at the end; it will then release the distinctive vanilla smell. The fruit contains tiny, flavourless seeds. In dishes prepared with whole natural vanilla, these seeds are recognizable as black specks. For other uses, see Fruit (disambiguation). ...


Like other orchids' seeds, vanilla seed will not germinate without the presence of certain mycorrhizal fungi. Instead, growers reproduce the plant by cutting: they remove sections of the vine with six or more leaf nodes, a root opposite each leaf. The two lower leaves are removed, and this area is buried in loose soil at the base of a support. The remaining upper roots will cling to the support, and often grow down into the soil. Growth is rapid under good conditions. Orchid mycorrhiza are a symbiotic relationship between the roots of plants of the family Orchidaceae and a variety of fungi. ... Divisions Chytridiomycota Zygomycota Ascomycota Basidiomycota The Fungi (singular: fungus) are a large group of organisms ranked as a kingdom within the Domain Eukaryota. ... Plant cuttings are a technique for vegetatively (asexually) propagating plants in which a piece of the source plant containing at least one stem cell is placed in a suitable medium such as moist soil, potting mix, coir or rock wool. ...


History

The first to cultivate vanilla were the Totonac people, who inhabit the Mazantla Valley on the Gulf Coast of Mexico in the present-day state of Veracruz. According to Totonac mythology, the tropical orchid was born when Princess Xanat, forbidden by her father from marrying a mortal, fled to the forest with her lover. The lovers were captured and beheaded. Where their blood touched the ground, the vine of the tropical orchid grew.[4] The Totonac people resided in the eastern coastal and mountainous regions of Mexico at the time of the Spanish arrival in 1519. ... Location within Mexico Country Capital Municipalities 212 Largest City Veracruz Government  - Governor Fidel Herrera Beltrán (PRI)  - Federal Deputies PRI: 6 PAN: 11 PRD: 2 Convergencia: 2  - Federal Senators PRD: 1 PAN: 1 Convergencia: 1 Area Ranked 11th  - Total 71,699 km² (27,683. ...

Drawing of Vanilla from the Florentine Codex (ca. 1580) and description of its use and properties written in the Nahuatl language.
Drawing of Vanilla from the Florentine Codex (ca. 1580) and description of its use and properties written in the Nahuatl language.

In the fifteenth century, Aztecs from the central highlands of Mexico conquered the Totonacs, and the conquerors soon developed a taste for the vanilla bean. They named the bean tlilxochitl, or "black flower", after the mature bean, which shrivels and turns black shortly after it is picked. After they were subjected to the Aztecs the Totonacs paid their tribute by sending vanilla beans to the Aztec capital, Tenochtitlan. Page 51 of Book IX from the Florentine Codex. ... For the Spanish language as spoken in Mexico, see Mexican Spanish. ... Aztec is a term used to refer to certain ethnic groups of central Mexico, particularly those groups who spoke the Nahuatl language and who achieved political and military dominance over large parts of Mesoamerica in the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries, a period referred to as the Late post-Classic... Tenochtitlan, looking east. ...


Vanilla was completely unknown in the Old World before in the early sixteenth century gave vanilla its name. The Spanish and Portuguese sailors and explorers brought vanilla into Africa and Asia in the 16th century. They called it vainilla, or "little pod", The word vanilla entered the English language in the 1754, when the botanist Philip Miller wrote about the genus in his Gardener’s Dictionary.[5] Philip Miller (1691 - December 18, 1771) was a botanist of Scottish descent. ...


Until the mid-19th century, Mexico was the chief producer of vanilla. In 1819, however, French entrepreneurs shipped vanilla beans to the Réunion and Mauritius islands with the hope of producing vanilla there. After Edmond Albius, a 12-year-old slave from Réunion Island, discovered how to pollinate the flowers quickly by hand, the pods began to thrive. Soon the tropical orchids were sent from Réunion Island to the Comoros Islands and Madagascar along with instructions for pollinating them. By 1898, Madagascar, Réunion, and the Comoros Islands produced 200 metric tons of vanilla beans, about 80 percent of world production.[6] Alternative meaning: Nineteenth Century (periodical) (18th century — 19th century — 20th century — more centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 19th century was that century which lasted from 1801-1900 in the sense of the Gregorian calendar. ... Portrait of Edmond Albius, circa 1863 Edmond Albius (1829 - 9 August 1880) was an important figure in the cultivation of vanilla. ... The Union of Comoros (until 2002 the Islamic Federal Republic of the Comoros) is an independent country at the northern end of the Mozambique Channel in the Indian Ocean, between northern Madagascar and northern Mozambique. ...


The market price of vanilla rose dramatically in the late 1970s, due to a typhoon. Prices stayed stable at this level through the early 1980s despite the pressure of recently introduced Indonesian vanilla. In the mid-1980s, the cartel that had controlled vanilla prices and distribution since its creation in 1930 disbanded. Prices dropped 70 percent over the next few years, to nearly US$20 per kilo. This changed, due to typhoon Huddah, which struck early in the year 2000. The typhoon, political instability, and poor weather in the third year drove vanilla prices to an astonishing US$500 per kilo in 2004, bringing new countries into the vanilla industry. A good crop, coupled with decreased demand caused by the production of imitation vanilla, have pushed the market price down to the $40 per kilo range in the middle of 2005. Cyclone Catarina, a rare South Atlantic tropical cyclone viewed from the International Space Station on March 26, 2004. ... For the American pop-punk band, see Cartel (band). ...


Madagascar (mostly the fertile region of Sava) accounts for half of the global production of vanilla. Mexico, once the leading producer of natural vanilla with an annual 500 tons, produced only 10 tons of vanilla in 2006. An estimated 95% of “vanilla” products actually contain artificial vanillin, produced from lignin. [7] Vanillin, methyl vanillin, or 4-hydroxy-3-methoxybenzaldehyde, is an organic compound with the molecular formula C8H8O3. ... Lignin (sometimes lignen) is a chemical compound (complex, highly cross-linked aromatic polymer) that is most commonly derived from wood and is an integral part of the cell walls of plants, especially in tracheids, xylem fibres and sclereids. ...


Chemistry

Main article: Vanillin

Though there are many compounds present in the extracts of vanilla, the compound vanillin (4-hydroxy-3-methoxybenzaldehyde) is primarily responsible for the characteristic flavour and smell of vanilla. Another minor component of vanilla essential oil is piperonal (heliotropin). Piperonal and other substances affect the odour of natural vanilla. Wikipedia does not have an article with this exact name. ... Wikipedia does not have an article with this exact name. ... Chemical structure refers to the spatial arrangement of atoms in a molecule and the chemical bonds that hold the atoms together. ... Vanillin, methyl vanillin, or 4-hydroxy-3-methoxybenzaldehyde, is an organic compound with the molecular formula C8H8O3. ... Vanillin, methyl vanillin, or 4-hydroxy-3-methoxybenzaldehyde, is an organic compound with the molecular formula C8H8O3. ... An essential oil is a concentrated, hydrophobic liquid containing volatile aromatic compounds from plants. ... Piperonal (heliotropine, protocatechuic aldehyde methylene ether) is an aromatic aldehyde that comes as transparent crystals, C8H6O3, and has a floral odor. ... Odor receptors on the antennae of a Luna moth An odor is the object of perception of the sense of olfaction. ...


Vanilla essence comes in two forms. Real seedpod extract is an extremely complicated mixture of several hundred different compounds. Synthetic essence, consisting basically of a solution of synthetic vanillin in ethanol, is derived from phenol and is of high purity.[8] Fragrance extraction are processes which involve extracting aromatic compounds from the raw materials using various methods such as distillation, solvent extraction, expression, or enfleurage. ... Grain alcohol redirects here. ... Phenol, also known under an older name of carbolic acid, is a colourless crystalline solid with a typical sweet tarry odor. ...


Stages of production

A vanilla plantation in a wood on Réunion Island
A vanilla plantation in a wood on Réunion Island
  1. Harvest
    The pods are harvested while green and immature. At this stage, they are odourless.
  2. Killing
    The vegetative tissue of the vanilla pod is killed to prevent further growing. The method of killing varies, but may be accomplished by sun killing, oven killing, hot water killing, killing by scratching, or killing by freezing.
  3. Sweating
    The pods are held for 7 to 10 days under hot (45º-65°C or 115º-150°F) and humid conditions; pods are often placed into fabric covered boxes immediately after boiling. This allows enzymes to process the compounds in the pods into vanillin and other compounds important to the final vanilla flavour.
  4. Drying
    To prevent rotting and to lock the aroma in the pods, the pods are dried. Often, pods are laid out in the sun during the mornings and returned to their boxes in the afternoons. When 25-30% of the pods' weight is moisture (as opposed to the 60-70% they began drying with) they have completed the curing process and will exhibit their fullest aromatic qualities.
  5. Grading
    Once fully cured, the vanilla is sorted by quality and graded.

ImageMetadata File history File links Download high resolution version (1728x2592, 2265 KB) A vanilla planifolia vine growing up a tree in a vanilla plantation on Réunion Island. ... ImageMetadata File history File links Download high resolution version (1728x2592, 2265 KB) A vanilla planifolia vine growing up a tree in a vanilla plantation on Réunion Island. ... Réunion is an island and overseas département (département doutre-mer, or DOM) of France, located in the Indian Ocean east of Madagascar, about 200 km southwest of Mauritius. ...

Culinary uses

2006 Top Vanilla Producers
Country Production
(tonnes)
 %
Flag of Madagascar Madagascar 6,200 59%
Flag of Indonesia Indonesia 2,399 23%
Flag of the People's Republic of China China 1,000 10%
Flag of Mexico Mexico 306
Flag of Turkey Turkey 192
Flag of Tonga Tonga 144
Flag of Uganda Uganda 195
Flag of the Comoros Comoros 65
Flag of French Polynesia French Polynesia 50
Flag of Réunion Réunion 23
Flag of Malawi Malawi 20
Flag of Portugal Portugal 10
Flag of Kenya Kenya 8
Flag of Guadeloupe Guadeloupe 8
Flag of Zimbabwe Zimbabwe 3
Source:
UN Food & Agriculture Organization
[5]

There are three main commercial preparations of natural vanilla: Image File history File links Flag_of_Madagascar. ... Image File history File links Flag_of_Indonesia. ... Image File history File links Flag_of_the_Peoples_Republic_of_China. ... Image File history File links Flag_of_Mexico. ... Image File history File links Flag_of_Turkey. ... Image File history File links Flag_of_Tonga. ... Image File history File links Flag_of_Uganda. ... Image File history File links Flag_of_the_Comoros. ... Image File history File links Flag_of_French_Polynesia. ... Image File history File links This is a lossless scalable vector image. ... Image File history File links Flag_of_Malawi. ... Image File history File links Flag_of_Portugal. ... Image File history File links Flag_of_Kenya. ... Image File history File links This is a lossless scalable vector image. ... Image File history File links Flag_of_Zimbabwe. ... Possible meanings: Faro Airport (Portugal) Federation of Astrobiology Organizations Financial Aid Office Food and Agriculture Organization This page expands a three-character combination which might be any or all of: an abbreviation, an acronym, an initialism, a word in English, or a word in another language. ...

  • whole pod
  • powder (ground pods, kept pure or blended with sugar, starch or other ingredients)[9]
  • extract (in alcoholic solution)[10]

Vanilla flavouring in food may be achieved by adding vanilla extract or by cooking vanilla pods in the liquid preparation. A stronger aroma may be attained if the pods are split in two, exposing more of the pod's surface area to the liquid. In this case, the pods' seeds are mixed into the preparation. Natural vanilla gives a brown or yellow colour to preparations, depending on the concentration.

Vanilla output in 2005
Vanilla output in 2005

Good quality vanilla has a strong aromatic flavour, but food with small amounts of low quality vanilla or artificial vanilla-like flavourings are far more common, since true vanilla is much more expensive. Image File history File links Size of this preview: 800 × 351 pixelsFull resolution (1425 × 625 pixel, file size: 57 KB, MIME type: image/png)This bubble map shows the global distribution of vanilla output in 2005 as a percentage of the top producer (Madagascar - 6,200 tonnes). ... Image File history File links Size of this preview: 800 × 351 pixelsFull resolution (1425 × 625 pixel, file size: 57 KB, MIME type: image/png)This bubble map shows the global distribution of vanilla output in 2005 as a percentage of the top producer (Madagascar - 6,200 tonnes). ...


A major use of vanilla is in flavouring ice cream. The most common flavour of ice cream is vanilla, and thus most people consider it to be the "default" flavour. By analogy, the term "vanilla" is sometimes used as a synonym for "plain". Although vanilla is a prized flavoring agent on its own, it is also used to enhance the flavor of other substances, to which its own flavor is often complimentary, such as chocolate, custard, caramel, coffee etc. Missing image Ice cream is often served on a stick Boxes of ice cream are often found in stores in a display freezer. ... For other uses, see Chocolate (disambiguation). ... This article focuses on egg-thickened custards. ... Caramel candy For other uses, see Caramel (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Coffee (disambiguation). ...


The cosmetics industry uses vanilla to make perfume. Make-up redirects here. ... For other uses, see Perfume (disambiguation). ...


The food industry uses methyl and ethyl vanillin. Ethyl vanillin is more expensive, but has a stronger note. Cook's Illustrated ran several taste tests pitting vanilla against vanillin in baked goods and other applications, and to the consternation of the magazine editors, tasters could not differentiate the flavour of vanillin from vanilla;[11] however, for the case of vanilla ice cream, natural vanilla won out.[12] Bimonthly American cooking magazine, founded and edited by Christopher Kimball. ...


Medicinal effects

In old medicinal literature, vanilla is described as an aphrodisiac and a remedy for fevers. These purported uses have never been scientifically proven, but it has been shown that vanilla does increase levels of catecholamines (including epinephrine, more commonly known as adrenaline), and as such can also be considered mildly addictive.[13][14] This article is about agents which increase sexual desire. ... An analogue medical thermometer showing the temperature of 38. ...


In an in-vitro test vanilla was able to block quorum sensing in bacteria. This is medically interesting because in many bacteria quorum sensing signals function as a switch for virulence. The microbes only become virulent when the signals indicate that they have the numbers to resist the host immune system response.[15] Quorum sensing is the process by which many bacteria coordinate gene expression according to the local density of bacteria producing signaling molecules. ...


The essential oils of vanilla and vanillin are sometimes used in aromatherapy. An essential oil is a concentrated, hydrophobic liquid containing volatile aromatic compounds from plants. ... It has been suggested that Aromatherapy Candles be merged into this article or section. ...


Specific types of vanilla

Bourbon vanilla or Bourbon-Madagascar vanilla, produced from Vanilla planifolia plants introduced from the Americas, is the term used for vanilla from Indian Ocean islands such as Madagascar, the Comoros, and Réunion, formerly the Île Bourbon.


Mexican vanilla, made from the native Vanilla planifolia, is produced in much less quantity and marketed as the vanilla from the land of its origin. Vanilla sold in tourist markets around Mexico is sometimes not actual vanilla extract, but is mixed with an extract of the tonka bean, which contains coumarin. Tonka bean extract smells and tastes like vanilla, but coumarin has been shown to cause liver damage in lab animals and is banned in the US by the Food and Drug Administration.[16] The tonka bean is the seed of Dipteryx odorata, a legume tree in the neotropics, of the Fabaceae family. ... Coumarin is a chemical compound; a toxin found in many plants, notably in high concentration in the tonka bean, woodruff, and bison grass. ... “FDA” redirects here. ...


Tahitian vanilla is the name for vanilla from French Polynesia, made with Vanilla tahitiensis. This species is descended from V. plantifolia that was introduced to Tahiti before mutating into a distinct species.[17][dubious ] Tahiti is the largest island in the Windward group of the French Polynesia, located in the archipelago of Society Islands in the southern Pacific Ocean. ...


The term French vanilla is not a type of vanilla, but is often used to designate preparations that have a strong vanilla aroma, and contain vanilla grains. The name originates from the French style of making ice cream custard base with vanilla pods, cream, and egg yolks. Alternatively, French vanilla is taken to refer to a vanilla-custard flavour.[18] Syrup labelled as French vanilla may include custard, caramel or butterscotch flavours in addition to vanilla. This article focuses on egg-thickened custards. ... For other uses of Cream, see Cream (disambiguation). ... An egg yolk surrounded by the egg white An egg yolk is the part of an egg which serves as the food source for the developing embryo inside. ... Caramel candy For other uses, see Caramel (disambiguation). ... For the singer/beatboxer who appeared on Americas Got Talent, see Butterscotch (performer). ...

References

  1. ^ "Vanilla Miller" by James D. Ackerman, Flora of North America 26:507, June 2003.
  2. ^ Rodelle Vanilla Products - About Vanilla
  3. ^ The Hindu : Flower with money power
  4. ^ Hazen J (1995) Vanilla. Chronicle Books. San Francisco, CA.
  5. ^ Correll D (1953) Vanilla: its botany, history, cultivation and economic importance. Econ Bo 7(4): 291–358.
  6. ^ Rasoanaivo P et al (1998) Essential oils of economic value in Madagascar: Present state of knowledge. HerbalGram 43:31–39,58–59.
  7. ^ Rainforest Vanilla Conservation Association
  8. ^ http://www.baktoflavors.com/pdf/vanilla%20dafna%20ishs.pdf
  9. ^ The U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires at least 12.5% of pure vanilla (ground pods or oleoresin) in the mixture [1]
  10. ^ The U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires at least 35% vol. of alcohol and 13.35 ounces of pod per gallon [2]
  11. ^ Vanilla Essence VS Imitation Vanilla Essence - Discuss Cooking Forum
  12. ^ Tasting lab : The Scoop on Vanilla Ice Cream
  13. ^ http://www.organicmd.org/faq.html[3]
  14. ^ http://wwwwww.nwcr.ws/adam/healthillustratedencyclopedia/1/003561.html[4]
  15. ^ "Inhibition of bacterial quorum sensing by vanilla extract." (2006 Jun). Lett Appl Microbiol. 42 (6): 637-41. PMID: 16706905. 
  16. ^ IMPORT ALERT IA2807: "DETENTION WITHOUT PHYSICAL EXAMINATION OF COUMARIN IN VANILLA PRODUCTS (EXTRACTS - FLAVORINGS - IMITATIONS)". U.S. Food and Drug Administration Office of Regulatory Affairs (30). Retrieved on 2007-12-21.
  17. ^ www.vanilla.com FAQ.
  18. ^ www.vanilla.com FAQ.

“FDA” redirects here. ... “FDA” redirects here. ... Year 2007 (MMVII) is the current year, a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar and the AD/CE era in the 21st century. ... is the 355th day of the year (356th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ...

External links

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Image File history File links Wikibooks-logo-en. ... Wikibooks logo Wikibooks, previously called Wikimedia Free Textbook Project and Wikimedia-Textbooks, is a wiki for the creation of books. ... The Open Directory Project (ODP), also known as dmoz (from , its original domain name), is a multilingual open content directory of World Wide Web links owned by Netscape that is constructed and maintained by a community of volunteer editors. ...


  Results from FactBites:
 
Vanilla - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1372 words)
Vanilla is a flavoring, in its pure form known as vanillin, derived from orchids in the genus Vanilla.
Vanilla was a highly regarded flavoring in Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, and was brought back to Europe (and from there the rest of the world) by the Spanish Conquistadors.
Vanilla essence comes in two forms: the actual extract of the seedpods, and the far cheaper synthetic essence, basically consisting of a solution of synthetic vanillin in ethanol.
Vanilla (orchid) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (490 words)
Vanilla is a genus of about 110 species in the orchid family (Orchidaceae), including the species Vanilla planifolia from which commercial vanilla flavoring is derived.
The short, oblong, dark green leaves of the Vanilla are thick and leathery, even fleshy in some species, though there are a significant number of species that have their leaves reduced to scales or have become nearly or totally leafless and appear to use their green climbing stems for photosynthesis.
Vanilla species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Hypercompe eridanus and Hypercompe icasia.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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