Vanilla pudding, vanilla sauce or vanilla kipper - many sweet treats are now refined with vanilla. Especially at Christmas time, the vanilla, which is the second most expensive spice in the world after Saffron, has high season. However, the vanilla not only convinces with its unmistakable taste and pleasant smell, but also with its health-promoting effect.
Why is vanilla healthy?
The spice vanilla and especially its main flavor vanillin are said to have several beneficial effects on our body:
- Thus, vanilla should have a mood-enhancing effect and therefore help with depressive moods or anxiety.
- In anxiety, the soothing effect of vanilla on our nerves is also noticeable - that is why many candles, bath products and body care products smell of vanilla.
- We recommend products with vanilla fragrance but also sweet tooth, because vanilla is supposed to slow down the appetite for sweets.
- Often, vanilla is added to perfumes and other cosmetics because vanillin is chemically very similar to the pheromone (sexual attractants) of humans. This chemical similarity is probably due to the aphrodisiac effect that is attributed to vanilla.
Vanilla as a drug?
In addition, vanilla, when applied externally, should have an antiseptic effect - that is, it should be able to reduce the risk of infection in wounds, for example. In addition, the vanilla is also attributed to an anti-inflammatory property. Therefore, the spice should be particularly effective in the case of fungal infections of the skin as well as eczema and atopic dermatitis.
Current studies are currently examining whether vanilla can influence cancer. It is believed that the spice has a protective effect on our cells and thus can prevent mutations in the genome, as they occur in cancer. At the moment, however, secured knowledge is not yet available.
Main flavoring vanillin
Real vanilla is one of the most sought-after spices in the world - but only about 1, 000 tons of vanilla are produced each year. Thus, the need for vanilla can not be covered by far. Therefore, the main flavoring vanillin is nowadays mainly artificially produced - usually true vanilla is only used for high-quality pastries.
To cover the need for vanilla, about 12, 000 tonnes of artificial vanillin are produced each year - real vanilla contains about 40 other ingredients in addition to vanillin. The big advantage of artificially produced vanillin is that it can be produced relatively inexpensively. It is included, for example, in the baking often used vanillin sugar.
What is vanilla?
Real vanilla is composed as follows:
- 35 percent water
- 25 percent sugar
- 15 percent fat
- 6 percent minerals
In addition, vanilla has a high cellulose content, which can be up to 30 percent. The proportion of the main flavoring vanillin is between three and four percent.
The difference between real and artificial vanilla sugar
In contrast to the synthetically produced vanillin sugar, real vanilla sugar is composed of sugar and vanilla and can be recognized by the small black spots that form when the seeds are ground. However, today more and more products containing artificial vanillin contain such black dots. This is to give the impression that genuine vanilla was used to make the product.
Tip: To make real vanilla sugar yourself, you only need an airtight sealable container and a scraped vanilla pod. Simply place the pod in the jar together with the sugar and let it steep for six to eight weeks. The more vanilla pods added, the more aromatic the sugar becomes.
Vanilla: Use in the kitchen
Vanilla is used in the kitchen especially for seasoning desserts. If you like to experiment with cooking, you can also use vanilla to season spicy dishes such as meat or vegetables.
For seasoning in the kitchen, the flesh of the vanilla bean is mostly used as it contains most of the flavorings. To reach the pulp, the vanilla pod is sliced lengthwise. Then the pulp is scraped out of the pod with the black seeds.
Since the pod itself also contains many flavors, it should also be used further: their flavorings can be obtained, for example, by boiling the vanilla pod in milk or cream. Subsequently, the liquid can be used, for example, for a custard.
Where does the vanilla come from?
The vanilla belongs to the Orchideegewächsen and comes originally from Mexico. In Central and South America, it was used centuries ago to refine the bitter cocoa, but also as an aphrodisiac. Vanilla first reached Europe through the Spanish conquerors.
There are more than 100 varieties of vanilla worldwide, but only 15 varieties provide aromatic capsules. The most important type of vanilla is the spice vanilla. Although it has its origins in Mexico, today it is grown mainly on Madagascar and other islands in the Indian Ocean. Particularly well-known is the Bourbon vanilla, which is particularly popular in Europe because of its intense aroma. It comes from the island of La Réunion, which formerly bore the name Ile Bourbon.