Vanilla - Vanilla Planifolia – Spice
Blending Note: Base
Main Benefits: Sedative, Tranquilizing, Relaxing, Antidepressant
Properties: Antioxidant, Aphrodisiac, Ant carcinogenic, Febrifuge
Other Producers: Indonesia, Madagascar, Papua New Guinea, China, Turkey, Tonga, Uganda, Comoros
Allergy Warning: None On Record
According to popular belief, the Totanac people, who inhabit the east coast of Mexico in the present-day state of Veracruz, were the first to cultivate vanilla. According to Totonac mythology, the tropical orchid was born when Princess Xanat, forbidden by her father from marrying a mortal, fled to the forest with her lover. The lovers were captured and beheaded. Where their blood touched the ground, the vine of the tropical orchid grew. In the 15th century, Aztecs invading from the central highlands of Mexico conquered the Totonacs, and soon developed a taste for the vanilla pods. They named the fruit tlilxochitl, or "black flower", after the matured fruit, which shrivels and turns black shortly after it is picked. Subjugated by the Aztecs, the Totonacs paid tribute by sending vanilla fruit to the Aztec capital, Tenochtitlan. Until the mid-19th century, Mexico was the chief producer of vanilla. In 1819, French entrepreneurs shipped vanilla fruits to the islands of Reunion and Mauritius in hopes of producing vanilla there. After Edmond Albius discovered how to pollinate the flowers quickly by hand, the pods began to thrive. Soon, the tropical orchids were sent from Réunion to the Comoros Islands, Seychelles, and Madagascar, along with instructions for pollinating them. By 1898, Madagascar, Réunion, and the Comoros Islands produced 200 metric tons of vanilla beans, about 80% of world production.
Vanilla is the second-most expensive spice after saffron because growing the vanilla seed pods is labor-intensive. Despite the expense, vanilla is highly valued for its flavor. Dissemination of vanilla can be achieved either by stem cutting or by tissue culture. For stem cutting, a progeny garden needs to be established. All plants need to grow under 50% shade, as well as the rest of the crop. Mulching the trenches with coconut husk and micro irrigation provide an ideal microclimate for vegetative growth. Cuttings between 60 and 120 cm should be selected for planting in the field or greenhouse. Cuttings below 60 to 120 cm need to be rooted and raised in a separate nursery before planting. Planting material should always come from unflowered portions of the vine. Wilting of the cuttings before planting provides better conditions for root initiation and establishment. Before planting the cuttings, trees to support the vine must be planted at least three months before sowing the cuttings. Pits of 30 x 30 x 30 cm are dug 30 cm away from the tree and filled with farm yard manure, sand and top soil mixed well. An average of 2000 cuttings can be planted per hectare. One important consideration is that when planting the cuttings from the base, four leaves should be pruned and the pruned basal point must be pressed into the soil in a way such that the nodes are in close contact with the soil, and are placed at a depth of 15 to 20 cm. The top portion of the cutting is tied to the tree using natural fibers such as banana or hemp. The seeds and beans of Vanilla are extracted by steam distillation. The colour of the oil is deep brown and the consistency thick. It has a strong rich, warm and sweet aroma.
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