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Ideally, vanilla beans have to be preserved in a closed glass jar in a dry location with no light, heat or excessive humidity. Never use a cork lid because it will favour the development of moulds. An airtight metal box is also an option.
Under some conditions, crystals can form on vanilla beans; this is an additional hint of quality and improves preservation. This “frost” results from the crystallisation of the vanilla’s essential oil. You can encourage this phenomenon by adding a split bean to your bundle of vanilla.
Vanilla eases digestion. Moreover, it helps fight intellectual fatigue, insomnia, stress and low spirit. It is also helpful for prostate problems and heals poisonous animals’ bites.
To profit from its aroma:
1) Into milk: split the bean along its length and grate each half with the dull part of a knife blade. Then put the black seeds and the bean into hot (not boiling) milk for 10 minutes. If possible, cover and let it sit like that overnight; the milk will then be perfectly flavoured with vanilla.
2) Put the split bean and the seeds into fruit juice or alcohol for a few days, for fruits salads or cocktails.
3) Into rum: 2 to 4 beans in a bottle for one month.
4) For your other preparations, split the bean along its length, grating the seeds inside, which are full of vanilla. They release all the vanilla’s flavour. After using it, you can put the open beans (not used or washed and dried) into sugar to make vanilla sugar.
First discovery of vanilla:
Vanilla beans were first harvested from wild orchids. People quickly saw that when they fell on the ground, ripe, the long thin fruits of those plants, fermented and covered by humus, exhaled an exquisite aroma. Christopher Columbus brought vanilla to our continent during his third trip to “India.”
A rare product:
Only 1500 to 2000 tons of vanilla are used around the world every year, about six times more than 50 years ago. Madagascar, the Reunion and Comoros produce a little bit more than the two-thirds of the world’s production.
- Vanilla is the only orchid whose fruit can be eaten.
- Green vanilla is up to five times heavier than prepared vanilla.
- In its natural environment, vanilla climbs on trees like a creeper.
- Vanilla is the most expensive spice after saffron.
- Vanilla is the world’s first aroma; it is used in many products such as various soaps, tobacco, perfumes, Beaujolais and other foods.