Vanilla beans are the long, greenish-yellow seed pods of the tropical orchid plant, Vanilla planifolia.
Before the plant flowers, the pods are picked, unripe, and cured until they’re dark brown. The process takes up to six months. To obtain “pure vanilla extract”, cured vanilla beans are steeped in alcohol.
According to law, pure vanilla extract must be 35 percent alcohol by volume. Vanilla beans are grown in Madagascar, Mexico, Indonesia, and Tahiti.
Vanilla beans and pure vanilla extract has a sweet, perfumed aroma with a woody or smoky flavor.
Healing Tip: Vanillin (4-hydroxy-3-methoxybenzaldehyde) is a synthetic compound and not the same as pure vanilla extract. Avoid it.
Selecting and Storing Vanilla
Store pure vanilla extract in a cool, dark, dry place.