The Little-Known Truth about Vanilla

Vanilla is one of the world’s favorite and costliest flavorings, but many don’t know that it comes from an orchid. Considering this, it’s no surprise that most people aren’t aware of the deeper history of these fragrant, cured seedpods. Vanilla’s roots as a valuable food go back to Mexico’s ancient Totonacs and Aztecs, who harvested seedpods from wild plants. Europeans were captivated by vanilla, and tried to cultivate it in their tropical colonies. They found they could get the vines to grow and bloom, but not to fruit. I’ve blogged before about Edmond Albius, an enslaved child who was the first to figure out how to pollinate vanilla flowers by hand. His discovery was a breakthrough in the creation of the modern, global, natural vanilla industry. Albius’ ingenuity helped make vanilla an essential ingredient in foods, perfumes, and medicines. Sadly, he died in poverty.

Explore posts in the same categories: Fragrant Orchids, In the News, Warm Growers

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