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The Vanilla Plant - Vanilla grows on a vine that climbs up a tree or pole - any support can be used. In nature it will grow as high as it is allowed, but on plantations the vine is folded down to where it can be reached so that all the beans can be harvested. This also has the effect of encouraging flowering and making the plant more productive.
The vanilla planifolia flower is an orchid that produces a fruit that is a result of the pollination of the flower. Pollination, however isn’t easy because while the plant has both male and female organs, they are separated to prevent self-pollination. Natural pollination can only be carried out by a certain species of bee that is native to Mexico. Therefore, in order to grow vanilla in other place, the plants must be pollinated by hand.
Vanilla plants are propagated by cuttings, and it takes 18 months for a new cutting to produce it’s small yellowish green orchid blooms. Each flower only blooms for a few hours. So workers must inspect the plants dutifully throughout the day in order to pollinate as many flowers as they can. A few weeks after pollination, a long green bean will start to grow - the vanilla bean. The bean is left growing on the vine for 9 month in order for it to develop it’s unique flavor. When the bean is finally picked it has no fragrance or flavor until it is dried.
There are various methods of drying vanilla beans. Whichever method is used, the enzymatic process of the bean must be stopped first or it will ferment so the bean is either blanched in hot water or heated in an oven. The beans are then dried in the sun for months and then placed in wooden boxes where they “sweat” out 80% of their moisture. This is when their distinctive flavor and aroma really starts to come out. The beans are then sorted and the essential oils are extracted from the beans. Sugars are added to the oil in order to preserve its flavor.
The long, slender fruits ('beans' or 'pods') are harvested before they ripen, but the powerful vanilla flavour only develops after a several months of special curing. The beans are spread in the sun in the morning, then covered and kept enclosed during the night. After a while the green beans turn brown, and the glycosidically bound vanillin is slowly liberated. It is understandable why vanilla is so expensive. The small black points in the dessert, showing that true vanilla has been used, are the seeds, unusually large for orchids. White fluffs on the surface of the vanilla pods are neither mould nor insecticide, but pure crystallized vanillin, and a sign of high quality. The major part of the world's vanilla is used for making vanilla extracts, used on a large scale in finer chocolate, ice-cream, cookies, etc. The Danish company Danisco has become an important actor on this market.Vanillin, or 4-hydroxy-3-methoxybenzaldehyde, is definitely the major odorant from vanilla, but several additional aroma compounds are formed during the curing process (more than 100 are identified). Guaicol, creosol, acetovanillone, vanillyl alcohol and methyl salicylate seem to be of importance, together with vitispiranes  .Already in 1876 Reimer and Tiemann succeeded in synthesizing vanillin in the laboratory. Pure vanillin is used as an odorant for many purposes. It has a powerful, sweet vanilla odour, but without the rich complexity of the vanilla bean.
Our pure vanilla essential oil is a 10 fold. Its botanical name is "Vanilla planifolia". "Ten Fold"this refers to the concentration of the essential oil. Ten fold essential oils are considered to be superior to the extracts commonly sold. Try our pure vanilla essential oil Vanilla essential oil as a premiere sensual aphrodisiac and one of the most popular flavors/aromas around. Comforting and relaxing. It is also an ingredient in Oriental type perfumes. Vanilla is one of the most well known scents. The essential oil has a rich, sweet, vanilla odor. Vanilla oil has no known toxicity Avoid high concentration in pregnancy. Avoid very high concentrations in skin care.It is recommended that this essential oil be stored in dark amber, blue or green glass bottles since it has been found to dissolve aluminum bottles.
Rachel O. - Writer, Herbalist