What image comes to your mind when the word Vanilla pops in definitely ice cream and desserts? So what do you know about this most popular, flavouring agent in the world? That it adds essence to your food. Well, these wonderful beans find their uses in medicines too. So, you have your favourite flavour used in food, fragrances, and medicines.
Vanilla is a plant, and it is the bean or the pod that is used to make flavouring and for preparing medicines. Though known for its flavouring component. But it can be added to those recipes where you need to lessen the sweetening part. As a medicinal property, it is used to stop tooth decay, treat intestinal gas and fever, and even can be used as an aphrodisiac.
Vanilla is quite pricey not because of its various ways of use but because of the way it is cultivated. Hence, because of this reason sometimes lab-produced vanilla is used. However, you wont get that same flavour of vanilla that is cultivated in its natural surroundings. There are many varieties of vanilla beans, but the finest one is the Madagascar vanilla beans. These beans are due to the rich tradition of growing and curing that the farmer of the Madagascar region takes pride in. It is the generational knowledge of the farmers from Madagascar that yields a high flavour content in the vanilla beans.
How do You Define Which Beans are the Best?
If you had been purchasing vanilla from the store directly, and especially those lab-produced ones. Then, chances are there that you have never known how original tastes. While buying the pods you need to understand the characteristics that make them different from the artificial ones. Even with the cultivated ones, the best one is Madagascar vanilla beans, and hence you need to know what differentiates them.
- One of the foremost properties of a good quality pod is its moisture content which is the crux of the main properties found in vanilla. A good pod must have a moisture content between 20% and 35% water. Too-dried ones are referred to as sticks, and they should be flexible and pliable. If it is too wet, then they are susceptible to the formation of mould.
- You can distinguish the quality of vanilla pods due to their vanillin content in it. It is this vanillin that defines the flavour of the vanilla pod, and the single highest flavour component. The content of vanillin is characterised by its harvest time and curing techniques
- Then comes the length of the pod, the longer the bean is the more flavourful it is. The best ones range between five inches and eight.
- If the vanilla is between medium brown and black, then that is your perfect pod. The light brown ones are too dry, while the ones which are pitch-black might have been oiled with vegetable oils, so better to avoid those.
- While touching the vanilla beans if it leaves residue on your fingers and leaves fragrance then they are the right ones. It should be amber coloured too. If the beans are overly oily or one which is clear or black, and has less and no aroma, then better to avoid them.
The Madagascar vanilla beans are considered to be one of the best beans because of their colour and texture and aroma. Good quality beans are always shipped in bundles and have all the above-mentioned properties in them. The quality of it is also characterised by the presence of vanillin that adds to its strong aroma. The highest quality beans contain vanillin at around 2 percent. Remember pure vanillin is naturally found in pods and can never be processed. The aromatic flavour of vanilla is due to the presence of 400 known flavour, in addition to vanillin, that comes together for that unique flavour that adds to your recipes.