Used in cakes, desserts, beverages and even in perfumes, vanilla is a popular ingredient worldwide. It may be used by some as a byword for plainness, but the gentle sweetness and complex aromatics of true vanilla are irresistible. It’s a massive thumbs-up from us for this fragrant pod: our RAWBITE Vanilla Berries bar marries the tartness of berries with aromatically sweet vanilla. It’s a match made in heaven.
Origins and appearance – the vanilla facts
Vanilla is a member of the botanical group of tropical climbing orchids and originates from Mexico and Central America. The flavour caught on and the taste for vanilla spread to Spain and eventually across the rest of Europe. The flowers are usually pale green or creamy white in colour and the fruit of the plant is the familiar vanilla pod (1) which is sometimes called a “vanilla capsule”. These pods, which have no aroma, are harvested when they are still green and unripe and are then dried in the sun until they turn brown.
Inside these pods are tiny seeds, which is what is commonly called vanilla paste. The paste and the slightly oily fluid inside the pod are extracted by cutting pods open lengthwise and scraping the seeds out.
Did you know that the pod is also packed with vanilla flavour? You can boil it in liquid (e.g. plant milk or juice) to release the aroma. Our tip: add a vanilla pod to berries when you’re making red fruit jelly or jam. This way you use the whole pod and avoid food waste. Vanilla extract is produced in a similar way: the vanilla pods are soaked in alcohol and release their aroma there (1).
Vanilla extract, vanilla flavouring, Bourbon vanilla – what’s the difference?
You may have seen vanilla listed in different forms on lists of ingredients and it’s worth taking a closer look, because not all vanilla is the same.
The different names indicate the composition and whether it is chemically synthesised or natural vanilla (2). Descriptions such as “ground vanilla beans”, “natural vanilla flavouring” or “vanilla extract” indicate that real vanilla has been used. If you read “vanilla flavouring” or “aroma”, then that’s a sure sign that synthetic vanilla has been used. Even just the word “vanilla” need not necessarily mean that real vanilla has been used.
Bourbon vanilla is a protected name and may only be used if the plants have been grown in Madagascar, Réunion, Mauritius or the Comoros and Seychelles (2).
There’s a reason why vanilla is one of the most popular flavours all over the world, as its wonderful flavour elevates many other ingredients by adding an aromatic richness. We love the combination with sour berries – like in our delicious RAWBITE Vanilla Berries.
Pure Taste. Pure Joy.