Did you know that one of the most popular flavors is actually the fruit of the vanilla orchid?
The vanilla pod (also called beans) is characterized as being long, thin, and stick-like that grows in tropical lowlands and equatorial climates such as in Caribbean, Comoro Islands, Hawaii, Madagascar, Indonesia, Tahiti, and Mexico. Harvesting is both time-consuming and labor intensive.
Vanilla orchids only open one day a year and they have to be hand-pollinated. This then takes another 6-9 months to pollinate when it’s green with yellow on the tip. They are typically sorted by size, wrapped and then layed out in the sun. This process of “sweating” goes on for around three weeks until they are soft and flat. Incredibly, this process dehydrates the beans and ferments the interior which improves the fragrance and flavor. After this continual process, the vanilla can be stored or used to make vanilla extract.
From pod to flavor, isn’t it amazing the path vanilla takes before it arrives in your grocery store?