An unusually interesting and attractive plant is a vanilla. This is one of the species of a perennial creeper, which belongs to the family of Orchids. The vanilla as a plant has the twisting stems on which there are the air roots. With these roots, the plant clings to the branches that fall under it, the trunks of the nearest trees, thus gradually approaching the crowns tops. Vanilla blossoms with the large white-green flowers, which are revealed in the literal sense of the word just for one day − be pollinated by the small bees. By the way, this is a special kind of bees, which lives in proximity to vanilla's trees. As a rule, vanilla was formerly grown only in Mexico, but already today, it is actively grown in the Central Africa, in the southern India − Sri Lanka and in some countries belonging to the Caribbean.
For reproduction of the vanilla it is used by the classic method − the planting cuttings. They are planted on the plantations, on which there are the special supports and the trees of various species. When the cuttings are planted, the plant begins to grow and grow along the tree along these special supports. It is worth noting that the plantations are pollinated by artificial method. It begins to bear fruit only in the third year, and the fruits have a very interesting and specific appearance: they are small pods in the form of boxes, having a length of about six-eight inches, and a width of about two-three inches. As a rule, the fruits are gathered slightly unripened, and in order that they do not open ahead of time, they are lowered into almost hot water for 25-30 minutes, after which the vanilla passes also fermentation in special blankets at a temperature of 131-140 °F. And as a result, the vanilla's pods are saturated with a specific aroma, and the fruits themselves become brown. After that, they dry for about six months and only then that a special white thin covering appears on the surface of the pods, which we often used calling the vanilla.
Good vanilla's fruits should always have the next characteristic properties − they must be somewhat wrinkled, soft and yet elastic, oily enough and have a dark brown hue. The small crystals should be visible on the surface of the pods. To ensure that the aroma of vanilla is not weathered, it is stored in the special sealed bags.
We as consumers, are more familiar with the vanilla as a powder, or, as it are called − the vanilla sugar. However, the vanilla sugar is not a pure vanilla product. In fact, it is preparing somewhat differently. For one stick of vanilla, take about a pound of sugar, then these two ingredients are thoroughly ground and a finely crystallized the vanilla sugar is obtained. Unfortunately, today, a real vanilla sugar is often replaced with the vanillin. In such product even less of this real vanilla. After all, the sugar, which is in the natural vanilla, has a rich useful composition, which is made by nature itself.
Surprisingly, the vanilla itself tastes bitter, although each of us associates this plant with something light and sweet. In fact, vanilla has a bitter aftertaste and for this reason it is carefully ground into a powdered state and seasoned with the real sugar. In addition, it is even easier to make vanilla sugar. To do this, it is enough to put a vanilla stick in the sugar container and leave it there for a while (from two weeks to one month).
The vanilla powder is used exclusively as an ingredient for the preparation of various flour products − cookies, rolls, pies and cakes, puddings and other. Also, the vanilla perfectly combines with the dairy products and curd products, often becoming an additional ingredient in the ice-cream and the cocktails. Less often − the vanilla is added for the smell in drinks and compotes (most often home-made). And, of course, the vanilla sugar or vanillin is added to the candies.
What is even more interesting is that the vanilla is added to the composition of alcoholic beverages to give a special and a specific flavor to the alcoholic beverage. Therefore, often in their composition there is precisely the plant we are now considering.
About Calories and Nutritional Value of Vanilla
The vanilla contains great enough calories. Thus, 100 grams of the vanilla reach 280 Kcal. That is why, usually the vanilla is not consumed in such large quantities, and it is used only as an additive. With regard to a nutritional value, we note the content of 0.05 g of protein and the same fat, about 12.5 g of carbohydrates and 52 g of water in it.
Useful Properties of Vanilla and Its Application
The smell of vanilla is far from the most important useful property of this plant. So, the product contains essential oils and tannins, mucous substances and so on. In addition, there is also a glycoside along with glucovaniline. The latter substance, during the fermentation breaks up into two substances − the vanillin and the glucose. This makes it possible to use the vanilla in a number of diseases. In particular, it is very effective in the fever, the dyspepsia or the chlorosis. Also, it is useful in disorders of the nervous system and in the occurrence of the mental illness, with the unhealthy sleep or the excessive drowsiness.
In addition to providing the psychological benefits, the vanilla copes with the conventional diseases quite effectively. For example, with its help the rheumatism is treated more effectively, and also, the vanilla is excellent as a means of stimulation and rush of the muscle activity.
The smell of vanilla is very effective during the aromatherapy procedures. Usually, it can help you easily restore your appetite; settle your habitual and normal diet. With its chemical composition, the vanilla aroma helps removing irritation and calm the organism, bringing it a sense of peace of mind. This spice is widely used in the perfumery − on its basis a lot of perfumes aromas, toilet waters and other odorous products are created. By the way, the experienced fishermen say that the vanilla's aroma attracts fish, so the catch will be more than successful.
Harmful Properties of Vanilla
Useful properties − it is certainly good, but in all there is a counterbalance, alas. The vanilla also has a raw of contraindications, which can be attributed to the harmful properties of this product. Its smell is so specific and resistant that with a deep and profuse inhalation there can be appeared an intoxicating effect. And in general, with excessive use of spices, one of many allergic reactions may appear: a cough, an external inflammation of the skin, a general malaise and so on.
But, as a rule, get an overdose of vanilla is not so easy. And all because vanilla in its natural form − the form of its pods, practically does not occur, and the maximum we may have in using is the vanilla sand or the vanillin. However, the milled vanilla also already quite a long time can be found in our supermarkets. Therefore, to be afraid of vanillin or vanilla sugar will have at least because they can be admixed with synthetic substances that are harmful to the organism.