Vanilla is not just a basic baking ingredient, it has an exotic history and is the world’s second most expensive spice.
Like wine and coffee, the flavour profile of vanilla varies with the region in which it is grown. Madagascan vanilla has a smooth, earthy, intense aroma, whereas vanilla from the South Pacific is more floral and fruity in character.
Vanilla thrives in regions 20 degrees either side of the equator and was first founded in 1500 by the Aztec’s who used ground vanilla beans to flavour “Chocolatl”, a drink made from water, ground cocoa beans, vanilla and honey. It was then introduced to Europe by Spanish explorers who had tasted “Chocolatl” on their travels to Mexico. In the 1800’s it was introduced to Madagascar where hand pollination and the commercialisation of vanilla begun.
POD’s first vanilla market.