The vanilla bean is considered the fruit of the vanilla plant, an orchid plant which grows in the form of a dark brown bean pod that is long and skinny and that is grown in tropical climates.
The “specks” that are found on the inside are what give vanilla their flavor and aroma, containing the natural compound vanillin. Three days after the harvest vanilla beans go through a process called curing which takes three months. This is a drying process that allows the vanilla to grow in both aroma and flavor.
Vanilla, apart from being a flavouring agent, it has a significant positive affect on your overall health as well. Many health promoting elements such as vitamins, minerals, essential oils and complex sugars are present in vanilla.
Vanilla contains vanillin that acts as an antidepressant and has a powerful aroma that helps reduce stress, anxiety and left the mood effectively. The smell of vanilla also lessens crying in newborns.
It is proven that vanilla is full packed with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. And due to the fact that it has fewer calories and carbohydrates than sugar, it can be used to reduce your sugar intake.
With a sharp knife slice down the center of the pod and gently remove the seeds by running your knife along the edge, but make sure not to drag the knife too firmly as this will remove the woody elements and fibers. And while the seeds are going to have the majority of the flavor, the pods are still fragrant. Depending on your dish, you can use the seeds, pods or both.
The vanilla seeds on their own are ideal for dry applications where extra liquid in a recipe is undesirable. They are also preferably used in recipes that require the flavour to be blended, whipped or mixed vigorously during production. Meanwhile the pods are perfect for infusing milk, cream and adding flavour and scent to sugar.
- Savory: Vanilla Bean Brown Butter Roast Chicken, Vanilla-Thyme Buttered Apple Chicken, Fish Fillet with Tahitian Vanilla Sauce, Caramelized Vanilla Pork.
- Sweets: Vanilla Cake with Vanilla Bean Browned Butter Glaze, Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream, Vanilla Bean Baked Donuts.
- Drinks: Vanilla Bean Frappuccino, Vanilla Bean Iced Coffee, Vanilla Infused Rum.
Wrap your vanilla beans in either wax paper or plastic wrap and store in an airtight glass or Tupperware container and store them in a cool dark place.
It is not recommended to refrigerate your vanilla beans as it will impact the quality of your beans and may actually become unusable.