Growing a Vanilla Bean- The Coveted Culinary Spice

By Laurelynn Martin and Byron Martin

Vanilla, or Vanilla planifolia, is a vining orchid native to Mexico and it’s one of the most highly sought after spices in cultivation. Vanilla has become a Vanilla plantmainstay flavoring and essence in the world of culinary and perfumes. Today, vanilla is grown mostly for commercial production in Madagascar, Reunion Island, Comoro Islands, Indonesia and Mexico.

The Aztecs first used vanilla for flavoring in cocoa. The long vanilla bean pods were dried and cured to produce its distinctive flavor. Today, the pods are sometimes used whole and the flavoring is drawn out by infusion or the pods are split and the tiny seeds are scraped out. You may have seen tiny seeds infused in creams or custard based dishes such as Crème Brûlée.

Growing Habit
The Vanilla orchid grows wild in tropical forests and comes from one of the oldest plant families (Orchidaceae). Ninety-five percent of the world’s vanilla bean trade comes from one species, Vanilla planifolia. The vine can reach up to 30 meters long and the pods form in bean-like clusters.

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1 Comment

Filed under Growing Tasty Tropical Plant

One response to “Growing a Vanilla Bean- The Coveted Culinary Spice

  1. I really love all of your entries! It was you guys who originally sent me on my journey to gather tasty tropical plants, and it is your amazing book I turn to at the end of the day for advice! My blog is all about my journey growing these plants, and features a lot of the advice you guys gave! Thank you! http://spektersplants.wordpress.com

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