Most people would not know that the popular flavoring nowadays known as vanilla as comes from orchids. Yes, some of your favorite sweets like ice cream and chocolates can actually attribute their flavoring to these fruitful plants.
The Vanilla Planifolia is one important species of the orchid family. Unlike most orchids, Vanilla grows vines and bear beans or seedpods which produce the flavoring vanillin.
Shortly after these seedpods are picked, they become dark in color and soon become the black pod we are used to seeing in the kitchens.
But did you know that the history of this orchid has a darker side to it, too?
According to the first cultivators of this plant, the Totonac of Mexico, its birth came about from the death of two lovers. The story tells of a goddess who fell in love with a mortal but was forbidden by her father to get married. In protest, they fled to the forest to live their love but were later caught and beheaded. From their blood grew this orchid which is now known as the vanilla orchid.
Although its roots can be traced in Mexico, this popular flavoring now finds its home most popularly in Madagascar. The Bourbon Vanilla (Bourbon Madagascar Vanilla) is currently the most popular and most widely used of all the vanilla types. Indonesia and Mexico also produce vanilla but in smaller quantities compared to Madagascar.
A lot of food, especially the sweet ones can now thank vanilla for their great flavor. Among these most loved deserts are custards, breads, coffee and even milk. Who would have known that aside from their edible flowers, orchids would be a staple in everyone’s kitchen?
Next time you hear someone calling orchids mere flowers and plants, why not tell them about vanilla? Surely this wonderful orchid would shed some sweet light on them.
When was the last time you used vanilla in your kitchen? Please leave a comment below.
For more research information about orchid care, here are 3 Orchid Care Books you should add to your collection.