Vanilla originated in Mexico around the 15th century and according to Wikipedia "...Aztecs used vanilla as a flavoring for chocolate in drinks called xocohotl." Vanilla beans are actually the fruit of orchids. The orchid flowers must be hand pollinated to produce fruit. There are only 2 species of orchids which produce vanilla beans and they are Vanilla planifolia and Vanilla tahitensis.
Another thing to note is they only grow in tropical places between 20 degrees North and South of the equator. Madagascar vanilla extract is the worlds most popular vanilla which people typically use when baking and cooking.
Vanilla beans have different flavor profiles based on the species, where they are grown and how they are cured.
Some of the most popular vanilla flavor profiles are Madagascar, Sri Lanka, Indonesian, Mexico and Tahitian.
Also known as "Gourmet" beans. These beans are at least 6 inches (15 cm) long, have a moisture content of at least 25%, dark brown or black in color, straight with no visual imperfections or splits and are soft, oily & pliable to the touch.
***If any of these criteria are not met, then it is not a Grade A vanilla bean.
Ideal Use: Ice cream, baking, cooking and making extract.
Also known as "Extract" beans. These beans are between 4 inches(10cm) & 6 inches (15cm) long and have a moisture content of 15% to 25%. They are brown in color, have imperfections or blemishes and may not be straight. Most Grade B beans are soft and pliable like Grad A.
Ideal Use: Making vanilla extract, vanilla powder, baking and cooking
Vanilla has over 300 flavor compounds making it an exceptional flavor enhancer. We recommend adding vanilla to a recipe which has any of the ingredients below.
Many other ingredients pair well with vanilla. Check out the book "The Flavor Bible" written by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg
Ty and Cate Wears are the founders of Wears Market Vanilla. We make our products in small batches using the highest quality ingredients. Our unique process produces deliciously concentrated Madagascar vanilla extracts which enhance the flavor of any recipe and will elevate your baking and cooking.