Vanilla beans are actually the fruit of a climbing orchid. The vanilla bean, or pod, contains thousands of tiny, dark seeds that carry the distinctive aroma and flavor of vanillin. The seeds and surrounding oil is where the unique fragrance and delicate flavors are concentrated.
Although there are over a hundred species of vanilla plants, there are three types of edible vanilla. Each type has distinct characteristics:
- Bourbon-Madagascar vanilla, vanilla planifolia, is the most common and accounts for the great majority of vanilla on the market. Sweet with flowery notes and a clean, smooth flavor, this is the flavor most associated with vanilla. This vanilla is best in dishes where vanilla is the predominant flavor. This all-purpose vanilla can hold it's flavor in both hot and cold applications.
- Mexican vanilla, also vanilla planifolia, is rich, creamy, nutty and has a potent perfume and spiciness that compliments chocolate, cinnamon and cloves. Avoid Mexican vanilla that doesn’t include vanilla beans as an ingredient, as it may be a cheap, copy-cat extract made from tonka beans which contains a toxin called coumarin.
- Tahitian vanilla, vanilla tahitensis (a different species), is a rare luxury. Tahitian vanilla is known for it's heady fragrance redolent of ripe cherries, caramel, chocolate, flowers and anise. Delicate Tahitian vanilla shines in cold applications such as custards, ice cream, fruit pies, frozen desserts and dishes that are not heated. This property makes Tahitian vanilla ideal for extract.
Ready to try Vanilla From Tahiti? Visit our online store now.