Vanilla

Vanilla

Vanilla! We all are aware of this flavour.  Be it cake, pastry or ice cream, it gives us a refreshing, soothing and very appetising feeling. The flavour is so alluring.  Now let us know where we get this flavour from.

Vanilla comes from the orchids of genus vanilla.  The vanilla orchid is a vine-like plant that grows up trees.  Vanilla extract is a solution containing the flavour compound vanillin as the primary ingredient.  Pure vanilla extract is made by macerating and percolating vanilla pods in a solution of ethanol and water.

If you happen to get hold of some vanilla pods, keep them nestle into a jar of sugar which will give the jar of sugar a hint of vanilla flavour.  Or you can add flavour to puddings or custards by bruising the vanilla bean and adding it to simmering milk or cream.  The good news is that the pod can be taken out, washed off a bit and used again.

Health benefits

  • Vanilla infused herbal tea can relieve digestive problems. Water boiled with vanilla bean is a traditional remedy for vomiting and stomach upsets.  Its rich aroma is effective in easing queasiness.
  • Vanilla ice-cream or vanilla flavoured drink enhances the mood of a depressed person. This is one of the greatest advantages of vanilla’s aroma.
  • Vanillin a component of vanilla essential oil is also an effective anti-depressant and mood lifter. This oil has a relaxing and calming effect on the brain and the nerves that provides relief from anxiety, anger, and restlessness.
  • There are a number of compounds in vanilla essence that contain anti-oxidant properties. They reduce the free radicals in the body.  These free radicals are the waste products resulting from normal as well as harmful metabolic processes. They can cause various diseases including cancer. Vanilla contains both anti-oxidant as well as cancer fighting properties.  The anti-oxidants in vanilla also repair the damage already done to the body and stimulates repair.

 

  • Vanilla extract is used in cough syrups as flavouring agent to mask the bitterness. The mild anaesthetic properties of vanilla extract can relieve symptoms such as pain from sore throat and headache.
  • Vanillin in vanilla has a positive effect on the central nervous system. Owing to the anaesthetic properties of vanilla it can help fight toothache and infection.
  • Since times immemorial vanilla extract had been in use for healing wounds. Anti-inflammatory properties of vanilla can sooth and calm the inflamed areas of the skin.  It is considered a great home remedy for wound healing. Vanilla can help alleviate arthritis, gout and other inflammatory conditions.
  • Vanilla essential oil is obtained from fermented vanilla beans. Apart from its widespread use as a flavouring agent in certain organic foods, beverages and pharmaceutical industries as in culinary endeavours, the essential oil of vanilla has found extensive use in the world of medicine as well.

By Nibhanapudi Suguna

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