In fact, vanilla has more Chinese names. Vanilla is often used as a formal Chinese translation. In Hong Kong and Taiwan, it is more directly transliterated into Yunna, Vannilan, etc. In food and cuisine, it is often called vanilla, natural. The vanilla plant is a vanilla pod. Although many people do not necessarily know what vanilla is, in fact, each of us is familiar with its taste. Vanilla is a "dominant" in the dessert world. Many desserts add vanilla, or even vanilla-based desserts. Vanilla is also the most basic taste of ice cream, not only very common in itself, but many different flavors of ice cream are also based on vanilla ice cream. Vanilla is added to coffee, chocolate, candy, tea, alcoholic beverages, and spirits, even to Coca-Cola, which we are most familiar with. In addition, vanilla is widely used in cosmetics and toiletries, and even more than 40% of the perfume is also added with vanilla.
Vanilla is a three-year-old creeping orchid family native to Central America and northern South America. More than 1,000 years ago, vanilla was first cultivated by the Mexican Totonac Indians. Later, they passed the vanilla north to the Aztecs to flavor the chocolate drink. Then, the Spaniard called it vainilla, the nickname of the vaglna pod in Latin, and the English name "vanilla" came. Before the 19th century, vanilla was planted only in a small area of Mexico, entirely due to a cute little insect, a bee called Melipona, the only creature in the world that can pollinate vanilla. Although vanilla has been brought to the world by Europeans, it has grown well in many tropical regions, but vanilla vines have only blossomed. Until the 19th century, the Belgian botanist Charles Morren found out the method of artificial pollination of vanilla (also known as a slave in Madagascar called Edmond Albius), and the monopoly of Mexican vanilla in the world gradually came to an end.
We usually come into contact with vanilla pods with a strong aroma and black oil. In fact, can you imagine that the vanilla pods picked from the vines are actually unscented green beans? Vanilla is one of the most labor-intensive crops in the world. It takes three years for vanilla vines to grow. The vanilla flower is also very interesting. It only opens one day, one is open for one day, and the morning is open for noon, so the time window for manual pollination Only a short 6 hours. After pollination, the pods began to develop and grew to 15 to 25 cm in about 9 months. The appearance resembled the beans. Picking up before the pods mature (the bottom turns from green to yellow) is the original appearance of the vanilla. (If you stay on Tengman and wait for maturity, the vanilla pods will burst open and reveal the seeds, which will become useless.)
Fresh vanilla pods
For the long process of making vanilla, picking is just the beginning. Fresh pods contain thousands of tiny seeds, and the first step in making them is usually to quickly boil the pods in boiling water. The seed pods are killed by short-term high-temperature contact to protect the sugars and amino acids; by the influence of high temperature, the phenolic substances in the seeds come into contact with the enzymes on the seed coat to release the aroma components. At the same time, some phenolic compounds condense into a colored molecular group, and the seed pods thus become brown. In the next few days, the seed pods were exposed to the sun and then wrapped in cloth to make them "sweating." At this stage, vanillin finally breaks away from the bonding of sugar molecules and produces various aromas and pigments by browning of sugars and amino acids. The final step is to manually sort out the pods and dry them for a few weeks to make them "cooked" and the flavor is more integrated. In this step, the vanilla of Madagascar is usually 35 to 40 days, while in Mexico it takes several months.
Finished vanilla, small in the middle is vanilla seed
This inconspicuous "black bean dry", with less production area, longer production time and more manpower, is an expensive spice after saffron. The output and price were far from satisfying people's enthusiasm for it. So, in 1874, vanillin became the first synthetic fragrance, which we call vanillin. The vast majority of vanilla flavors we have tasted in the market are the result of the addition of vanillin. Many friends who love baking may have bought small bottles of vanilla extract, which is also a mixture of vanillin. Although this is the most versatile substance, it does not have the rich, full aroma of whole herbs. Vanilla contains more than 200 kinds of volatile substances, which emits a variety of aromas such as cream, tropical fruit, caramel, honey, clove, wood, and floral. It is difficult to be completely imitated, and the vanilla flavors of different places are not the same. The best way is to buy the finished vanilla pods directly.