(Last Updated on : 30-01-2014)
Vanilla has attained a position in the world in general and India in particular as one of the most expensive spices after saffron and cardamom. Thus vanilla is grown all over the country commercially. Numerous uses of Vanilla are outlined which include culinary approaches, or as medicinal herbs. Since ancient days, vanilla was employed for flavouring the drink. The beans and the extract of vanilla find usage all over the country. The flavouring comes from the seed pod, or the 'bean' of the vanilla plant. These prepared beans are very dark brown in colour and grow slender, pleated and about 20 centimeter. Vanilla having a frosting of crystal called givre is found and the bean is found to be tough and bendable. The crystals contain the active ingredient 'vanillin' which is main source of fragrance and is produced during the process of induced fermentation. Vanilla is used for various purposes for as it has rich and full flavour. Vanilla is an aromatic and powerful product.
Best uses of Vanilla are found to be in the culinary preparations. Vanilla is renowned for its culinary uses. The fragrance of Vanilla adds delectable taste to the sweet dishes such as ice cream, puddings, cakes, custards and creams. Vanilla flavour is used to enhance the taste of many chocolate and confectionery items and several liqueurs such as Crème de Cacao and Galliano. Furthermore, natural vanilla is used with three main commercial purposes. The preparations include whole pod, powder which are kept pure or blended with sugar, starch or other ingredients and extract in alcoholic solution. The food industry uses methyl and ethyl vanillin. A stronger aroma is attained when the pods are split in two, exposing more of the pod's surface area to the liquid. Food becomes more delightful with the addition of vanilla extract or by cooking vanilla pods in the liquid preparation. The pods' seeds are mixed into the preparation. One of the essential properties of Vanilla is its strong aromatic flavour and thus used in flavouring food. The cosmetics industry also highlights the uses of Vanilla as it is used to manufacture perfume.
Vanilla has property to cure various diseases. Thus uses of Vanilla in the medicinal field are noticeable. The old medicinal literature has described Vanilla to have characteristics that acts as a remedy for fevers, as it has febrifuge. According to proofs, Vanilla increases the levels of catecholamine which includes epinephrine. In addition to that, vanilla is considered to be addictive too. Vanilla is found to block quorum sensing in bacteria. The microbes only become virulent when the signals indicate that they have the numbers to resist the host immune system response. Added to that, the essential oils extracted from Vanilla and vanillin is also used in aromatherapy. Vanilla is also used in few cases for medicinal purposes and pharmaceutical flavouring.