9 things you didn’t know about vanilla

9 things you didn’t know about vanilla

9 things you didn’t know about vanilla. Vanilla is one of the most recognized flavors in the world.  It’s so popular in fact that one might say it’s plain.  But what you didn’t know about vanilla might interest you.  Vanilla is a very universal aroma and ingredient. It is amazingly complex in the way it is extracted and produced.  Vanilla has so many different applications that it’s no wonder wars have been fought over it. What you discover about vanilla might increase your appreciation of this amazing and versatile aroma and flavor.  You might even rethink its value and realize it’s not plain vanilla, but so much more!

Did you know there are over 150+ different vanilla flavors and aromas?

9 things you didn’t know about vanilla. Did you know there are over 150+ different vanilla flavors and aromas? The aromas in the world all originate from just three different species of the vanilla bean.  These include vanilla  planifolia, vanilla tahitiensis, and vanilla pompona.  Only two of these species, vanilla planifolia and vanilla tahitensis (the Tahitian vanilla) are cultivated for commercial use as a flavoring or fragrance.

Vanilla planifolia is the most common species of vanilla. It’s grown in several parts of the world including; India, Indonesia, Mexico, and Guatemala. It’s also the species used for “Bourbon” vanilla.  Bourbon in this case refers to its location; the islands of Madagascar off the east coast of Africa. Its aroma offers a sweet, balsamic, spicy base with a slight hint of tobacco.  

Vanilla tahitensis, Tahitian vanilla beans, are grown in the South Pacific. Tahitian beans are shorter and plumper than vanilla planifolia beans and the have a higher water and oil content. The strong, fruity, floral aroma of Tahitian beans is especially prized by European gourmet cooks.

9 things you didn’t know about vanilla
9 things you didn’t know about vanilla

How do we get so many different vanilla aromas and flavors?

With there being 150+ different vanilla aromas and flavors, vanila isn’t so plain  “vanilla” anymore.  But can the average individual’s palette or olfactory identify the different vanilla aromas and how do all these flavors come about anyway?

The variances in the different aromas and flavors is in the process of cultivation, harvesting and curing. Mexican vanilla is said to have a particular flavor and smell that is [unique to] the type of land where it is planted.  Other factors include fertilizing, soil, air and human interaction.

9 things you didn’t know about vanilla – Vanilla comes from an orchid flower

Vanilla does come from an orchid flower. By way of its bean pod. When we think of beans, we often think of beans from vegetables.  But the vanilla bean is grown out of a pod from the vanilla orchid flower.  These orchid flowers originate in tropical areas in warm, rainy, and humid climates.  The fragrant vanilla orchid looks like a lengthy, greenish-yellow flute flower as seen below. 

what you didn't know about vanilla flowers

9 things you didn’t know about vanilla- Vanilla is a complicated crop to cultivate

Vanilla is one of the world’s most difficult and complicated crops to cultivate.  Its life cycle begins with the vanilla orchid flower that’s grown on a vine.  The orchid blossoms pollinate to give birth to the vanilla flower.  The blossoms are difficult to pollinate due to their delicate structure.  Depending on the area of the world they can be naturally pollinated only by certain small bees. Whereas in Madagascar, the vanilla flowers are pollinated artificially with a wooden needle as soon as they open.  This makes for much more expensive vanilla.

Upon pollination, the fruit of the plant grows to a long capsule, reaching its full length of about 8 inches in four to six weeks. When the pods turn golden-green at the base, the unripe pods are harvested.  For full maturity, it may take up to nine months depending on the area of the world in which it is harvested. The beans are harvested by hand and undergo an arduous sun-drying process to cure.  

9 things you didn’t know about vanilla, its birthplace is Mexico

9 things you didn’t know about vanilla, its birthplace is Mexico. You might not have known that Mexico is the birthplace of vanilla.  Some of the finest vanilla in the world is produced in Mexico. But its history was not necessarily a sweet one. 

Vanilla was first cultivated by the Totonec people of Mexico. In the 15th century the Aztec Indians went to war with the Totonec peoples and conquered them.  After a victory in battle, the Aztec civilization demanded that a tribute be paid. Vanilla beans were used as a form of payment by the Totonec. The Aztec Indians were later conquered by the Spanish Conquistadors.  The Spanish were soon schooled on the wonderful flavor of vanilla. They returned to Europe with their newly founded vanilla bounty and the joys of vanilla spread throughout Europe.

Once in Europe the Europeans, and especially the French, created perfumes from the vanilla pods

These perfumes were used to wear, fragrant products, homes, and tobacco. European women would dab vanilla extract behind their ears and on their wrists to create the utmost in perfumes.  This seductive aroma also evoked the domestic joys of freshly prepared food and was quite an exotic aroma in its early introduction.

Today, women have found that fragrances with strong vanilla notes draw an attentive audience with minimal effort.  It’s an aroma easy on the nose and enjoyable for most people.  It’s a unisex aroma that’s enjoyable and enticing for both sexes.

Vanilla can improve your sex life

Speaking of sex….vanilla can improve your love life.  That’s right, vanilla has been used as an aphrodisiac for centuries.  In the 1700’s vanilla was recommended for impotence by physicians.  As the Europeans discovered, vanilla is an intoxicating and alluring aroma that helps set the mood.  According to Science Direct, there’s undocumented data that vanilla can help relieve problems of impotence, erectile dysfunction, frigidity, loss of libido, and arousal.  The perfume industry has capitalized on this exotic and sweet aroma for years. 

The vanilla scent is still one of the top-selling perfumes in the world

The vanilla scent is still one of the top-selling perfumes in the world. Vanilla’s uniqueness is not duplicated by any other spice. Vanilla’s smell has a strong, rich, creamy, sweet, and almost hay-like aroma.

Vanilla works well with others. Its flavor and aroma can be both the main star in a recipe, or a base flavor in which other ingredient flavors can build along with it.  The flavor of almond for example, when added to vanilla intensifies both flavors. Other flavors, such as chocolate, can also blend nicely with others, but vanilla provides the versatility to blend, layer, or build upon hundreds of various flavors.  For example, vanilla can be added to fruits, herbs, liquids, nuts, honey, grains, and even some vegetables to enhance or alter the flavors.

Crave vanilla, a medical necessity?

what you didn't know about vanilla beans

Ever wonder why you crave vanilla? Something sweet made with vanilla or the aroma of vanilla in a wood wick lotion candle? Vanilla offers a variety of medicinal aids especially beneficial on your autonomic nervous system.  The autonomic nervous system regulates your involuntary physiologic processes.  One might argue it is a medical necessity that you couldn’t control your vanilla ice cream craving… 

Your brain might crave vanilla for its medicinal emotional qualities

Vanilla’s aroma is very calming and that’s because vanilla contains sedative properties which alleviate anxiety.  Its nostalgic profile is comforting.  It offers the ability to transcend a mood to harmony and take you to a place of peace to help you feel at ease.

Vanilla offers high levels of antioxidants

Antioxidants are substances that can prevent or slow damage to cells caused by free radicals. The next time you bite into a vanilla cupcake, you can enjoy the satisfaction of reaping some

Not just plain vanilla double vanilla cupcakes
Garrett McCord’s, Double Vanilla Cupcakes

emotional medicinal advantages in addition to the delicious sweet taste.  Speaking of vanilla cupcakes, Garrett McCord agrees that there is “nothing plain about vanilla!” Here’s his ‘Let’s Celebrate Vanilla’ with a double vanilla cupcake recipe.

Enjoy the aroma of vanilla by burning clean candles

What you didn’t know about vanilla is that it offers calming effects just by inhaling its aroma.  And you can enjoy that calming effect of vanilla aroma by burning clean candles.  Clean burning candles offers no air pollution or toxin emission.  You enjoy only the authentic vanilla aroma without the soot release.  Clean burning candles are made with plant-based wax instead of paraffin (gas-byproduct) wax. 

Enjoy the vanilla aroma put out by candles to spice up your love life, create a room that you can relax in, or just enjoy the warm aroma of vanilla throughout your home or office.

9 things you didn’t know about vanilla - Vanilla wood wick lotion candle
9 things you didn’t know about vanilla

Pure Soaps And Candle Company has created two clean-burning vanilla aroma candles.  The Vanilla Bean Wood Wick Lotion Candle in the Southern Blaze Collection is classic vanilla with a deeper and sweeter vanilla aroma.  The added pleasure of this candle is the ability to dip into the warm wax to use as a body lotion.  This is a special feature of this candle. The warm wax has a rich and silky feel.

The Northern Luminary Luxury Lotion Candle Collection offers the more classic French Vanilla aroma.  The French Vanilla Luxury Lotion Candle is a soft powdery scent drawing its potency in the mystic history of classic vanilla.  This candle is made with premium beeswax and can also be used as a body lotion when the wax is warm.

Pure Soaps And Candles company loves vanilla aroma!  They use only the highest quality of vanilla in their candles and have created a variety of vanilla-infused blends.  For a sweet vanilla blended aroma try Cinnamon Bundt wood wick lotion candle which includes vanilla and cinnamon.

Or for a medieval, unique aroma blend try the vanilla and tobacco wood wick lotion candle The Tobacco Road, vanilla and tobacco candle are reminiscent of a smoked pipe or cigar. This blended combination of vanilla and tobacco had its start when Europe first discovered the wonderful flavor of vanilla.  What you didn’t know about vanilla is Europeans used vanilla to flavor their tobacco and snuff as far back as the late 1500s! 

Learn how you can make your own vanilla extract. Check out the Pioneer Woman’s blog to learn how: https://www.thepioneerwoman.com/food-cooking/recipes/a99489/how-to-make-vanilla-extract/

More research on what you didn’t know about vanilla:

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0975357512800113

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0975357512800113

Was there something you didn’t know about vanilla that helped convince you that vanilla is and can be so much more?  We hope you have a better appreciation for this amazing plant.  We would love you to contact us if you would like to know more about our vanilla aroma plant-based candles.