After saffron comes vanilla in terms of labor intensiveness as well as price. The labor intensity comes in since each plant must be hand-pollinated since it blossoms only for a few hours the whole year. Much later, the vanilla pods are hand-harvested then cured for anything between three to six months. During that curing period, they can shrivel up to a quarter of the initial harvest. They also develop their distinct aroma, which makes the entire process worth every minute.
Interestingly, some of us are heavy consumers of vanilla products but have no clue where in the world it comes from. Vanilla grows in a few countries in the world like Madagascar, Mexico, Tahiti, and Java. It is worth noting that each country produces beans with their unique flavor.
Madagascar vanilla beans and Indonesian beans have the highest vanillin, which is the distinctive flavor compound in the seeds. On the other hand, Mexican vanilla only contains half as much vanillin. However, it is winey and fruity.
Tahitian vanilla has way less vanillin compared to the rest but stands out as the most aromatic and floral flavor that will keep you coming back for more.
Whole Vanilla Beans
Whole vanilla beans have a deeper vanilla flavor as opposed to the extract. You can use the pods and the seeds to infuse sauces as well as custards. Whole vanilla beans are easy to distinguish even when shopping. They are shiny and moist. They also appear to be brownish-black.
To retain the quality of whole vanilla beans, you need to store them with care. Ensure you store them in an airtight container. The good thing is, you can re-use them more than once, hence getting value for your money. After the first use, rinse them thoroughly, dry them, and store for consequent use. You can put the dried vanilla beans in sugar to give your sugar a mild vanilla flavor.
The vanilla-flavored sugar comes in handy in baking as well as in drinks. You can even sprinkle some over your fruit to give it an extra taste.
Like we had mentioned earlier, vanilla extract won’t taste as deep as whole vanilla beans. The extract is made by dipping chopped vanilla pods in some alcohol and water, then letting the strained liquid age. Vanilla extract is mostly used in pastries, baking, as well as other desserts. Ensure that you buy pure vanilla extract because imitation will leave a disgusting aftertaste. For it to last longer, ensure you store it in an airtight container at room temperature.
Substituting Whole Vanilla and Vanilla Extract
Luckily, if you don’t have whole vanilla beans, you can still use vanilla extract and achieve the desired results. However, due to the varying levels of concentration, you need to alter your measurements depending on what you are using.
For instance, if your recipe requires one tablespoon of vanilla extract, you can substitute that with 1/3 tablespoon of vanilla bean. Subsequently, if your recipe requires you to use whole vanilla bean, you can replace it with three times as much vanilla extract.
Health Benefits of Consuming Vanilla
Besides the sweet aroma of vanilla, it has other benefits to your health.
It is Perfect for Your Heart
According to research, vanilla is capable of lowering cholesterol levels. It significantly helps people at a high risk of getting a heart attack.
Vanilla is very rich in antioxidants. The antioxidants are crucial when it comes to the prevention of the breakdown of body cells and tissues. Vanilla also boosts your overall immunity and lowers your stress, making it easier for you to recover from any injury or ailment.
It is Good For Your Hair
Anyone enthusiastic about hair knows how important healthy hair is. There is nothing consoling than taking something so sweet, yet it nourishes your hair. If you are struggling with split ends or hair loss, try vanilla essential oil. The essential oil makes blood flow to the scalp, leading to better hair growth.
Anxious? Try Vanilla
Vanilla is known mainly for its distinctive aroma. The aroma hits straight to your nerves, making you feel calm. It is widely applied in aromatherapy treatment.
To enjoy both the good taste and amazing health benefits, buy vanilla beans. You can order vanilla beans online for convenience.