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Recipe Name: About Vanilla Beans Submitted by: Administrator
Source: Source Description:
Ethnicity: Last Modified: 2/22/2014
Base: Comments:
Preparation Time:
Number of Servings: 1

Information only
Information from the 1996 Old Farmer's Almanac, "What You Can Eat To
Achieve True Peace of Mind", by Ken Haedrich The vanilla orchid is a
member of the plant family known as Orchidaceae and is the only orchid
that produces edible fruit. The beans grow on a thick vine that
flourishes in warm, moist climates within 25 degrees of the equator.
The vanilla plant begins to bear fruit when it is three or four years
old. Eight to nine months after pollination, the beans are golden
yellow and ready for harvest and curing. It takes about five to six
pounds of green, freshly picked vanilla beans to make one pound of
properly cured beans. There are basically two ways to cure the beans:
in the sun or over a fire. Using the solar method, beans are spread
in the hot sun by day and wrapped in blankets and placed in wooden
boxes by night. The sweating process is repeated over and over for
six months, until the beans have lost up to 80 percent of their
moisture content. This method produces superior results and is used
in Madascar, Mexico, the former Bourbon Islands, Tonga, and Tahiti.
The wood-fire curing method, used in Indonesia and Bali, takes only
two or three weeks, but produces a dry, brittle bean with a smoky
flavor, generally considered inferior. When you buy a vanilla bean at
your market, the black, oily, smooth pod you're buying is a cured
bean. When you purchase a bottle of pure vanilla extract, you're
buying beans whose flavor components have been dissolved in a solution
of water and alcohol. By law, pure vanilla extract must contain at
least 35 percent alcohol by volume. Anything less is labeled a flavor.
Pure vanilla extracts come in a variety of folds, or strengths. The
Food and Drug Administration has established that a fold of vanilla is
the extractive matter of 13.35 ounces of vanilla beans to a gallon of
liquid. Strong, pure extracts, such as four-fold, are primarily used
in mass food production. What about imitation vanilla?
~---------------------------- Not only is pure vanilla expensive, but
demand also far exceeds the world's supply of the real thing.
Stepping in to fill the void is the chemist, who has come up with a
variety of imitations made from synthetic vanillin, the organic
component that gives vanilla its distinctive flavor and fragrance.
Most synthetic vanillin is a byproduct of the paper industry, made by
cooking and treating wood-pulp effluent. But since vanillin is only
one of more than 150 flavor and fragrance compounds found in pure
vanilla, the chemist has yet to match the subtlety with which Mother
Nature has endowed the real thing. How to tell a good bean when you
see one. Quality is key. To truly experience all the flavor and
fragrance vanilla has to offer, you have to seek out quality beans and
extracts. Generally speaking, look for beans that are supple and
aromatic. Tahitian beans are moister and relatively short and plump,
with thin skins and a floral aroma. Bourbon beans (so called because
they originate in Madagascar, Reunion, and the Comoros, formerly known
as the Bourbon Islands) are slightly dryer, contain more natural
vanillin, and have thick skins (the flavor has nothing to do with
bourbon whiskey.) Stay away from dry, brittle, or smoky-smelling
beans. Depending upon quality and variety, single vanilla beans
retail from about $1.50 to $10 apiece. Vanilla beans should be kept at
room temperature in an airtight container. Don't refrigerate them or
they may develop mold. Vanilla beans last up to two years. Especially
if you cook with it often, it is more economical to buy pure vanilla
extract by the pint, or even the quart, and share it with a friend.
The best pure extracts contain no caramel and artificial color and
little or no sugar. Store extract at room temperature, tightly
closed. It will keep up to five years. Posted to MM-Recipes Digest V3
#313 Date: Fri, 15 Nov 1996 00:32:43 GMT From:

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