Vanilla is a popular ingredient that you may know from many culinary preparations, from delicious cakes and pastries to ice cream and tasty milkshakes. It has an unmistakable flavour and aroma that make it quite easy to recognise. The vanilla flavouring comes from vanilla orchids, which develop fruits shaped like pods. The vanilla pods have a length of 5–22cm, with the larger ones usually considered of a higher quality. At harvest time, the vanilla pods need to be hand-picked at just the right time to make sure they are ripe and that the pods won’t pop open. Although picking the vanilla pods by hand is tedious and time-consuming, it ensures the best quality vanilla.
Vanilla is available in many forms. You can get vanilla extract, vanilla powder, vanilla sugar, or whole vanilla pods, depending on how you want to use it in food preparation or for natural remedies. The vanilla pods contain a wealth of nutrients, antioxidants, and other unique organic compounds that provide a wealth of health benefits. In traditional medicine and as a popular flavouring for food and drink, vanilla has been used for centuries.