Can you guess what is people’s favorite dessert?
Not cake and definitely not candy.
When asked about their favorite dessert, about 41% of Americans choose ice cream to be their absolute winner.
Each year billions of litters of ice cream are sold nationwide - and the US is second only to New Zealand for per capita ice cream consumption.
After eating all that ice cream 23% of people say that vanilla is the best flavor, according to Rasmussen Reports,.
Some might think of vanilla flavor as ordinary or unexciting, but I have to disagree. Maybe your artificial extracts, homogenized and mass-produced, are boring but real Vanilla is anything but basic nor plain. Real Vanilla is rich and subtle, and deeply, deeply delicious.
Vanilla is ancient. The Totonacs of Mexico’s east coast are thought to be the first to cultivate Vanilla sometime around the 4th century. These aromatic and delicious beans would later become prized by Aztec, and then Spanish invaders who would bring it back to the old world like stolen gold. Vanilla grew in popularity in the 17th century after savory dishes infused with vanilla became favorites in the court of Queen Elizabeth I in England. The Queen adored them and this made cooking with Vanilla fashionable throughout Europe, and it seems that it was the ever-fashionable French who first used vanilla to make exceptional desserts. We know the French were using making vanilla ice cream by the late 18th century because Thomas Jefferson copied down a recipe for it in 1780 and may have been the first person to make vanilla ice cream in America.
Vanilla is complex. Vanilla is complex in flavor and how it gets to your plate. The demand for vanilla is at an all-time high because it provides a key flavor for so many recipes and products, however, growing and curing real vanilla is very labor-intensive. The Vanilla plant is a member of the orchid family, and like many orchids, it requires close attention, and how you care for the plant has a big effect on how it blooms and fruits. It requires just the right amount of sun-not to sunny or shady, humidity, and outside its native habitat, Mexico, pollination has to be done by hand within a small window of time, during the 24 hours when the flower blooms. After they grow, Vanilla pods are individually hand-picked when they are barely ripe - green with yellow on the tip and then cured in a long, multi-step process that takes roughly one month. The total worldwide production of vanilla is only about 2000 metric tons, which is a drop in the bucket when it comes to vanilla demand. So, sorry to disappoint you but, yes, the vast majority of vanilla-flavored products out there on the market don’t actually contain any vanilla. Real, high-quality Vanilla is something of a luxury, increasing prices and driving its cultivation. Though some growers in some regions will sacrifice old-growth forests, farms like ours are able to sustainably cultivate premium organic Vanilla while developing shade forests at the same time.
Vanilla is a universal flavor. Whether is the main flavor or part of an ensemble, you find vanilla in so many dishes because it improves so many things--you have to admit that just smelling the aroma of real Vanilla can improve your mood. It is great when you’re happy, comforting when you’re sad, and almost always it’s a key ingredient in everything sweet and delicious! It has incredible fragrance and distinguished tastes and tones of taste vary with each Vanilla variety. Take Bourbon vanilla, for example, with its strong sweetness and floral overtones that make it best used in baked goods where the flavor is meant to complement, not dominate the dish. While the Tahitian Vanilla’s bold but nuanced taste makes it a great choice for dishes that use vanilla as its main flavor profile. Check out the variety of organic sustainable black vanilla beans from Java Sisters Vanilla.