grows as a vine, climbing up an existing tree, pole, or other support. It can be grown in a wood, in a plantation, or in a "shader", in increasing orders of productivity. Its growth environment is referred to as its terroir, and includes not only the adjacent plants, but also the climate, geography, and local geology. Left alone, it will grow as high as possible on the support, with few flowers. Every year, growers fold the higher parts of the plant downward so the plant stays at heights accessible by a standing human. This also greatly stimulates flowering.
The vanilla fruit grows quickly on the vine, but is not ready for harvest until maturity approximately six months. Harvesting vanilla fruits is as labor intensive as pollinating the blossoms. Immature dark green pods are not harvested. Pale yellow discoloration that commences at the distal end of the fruits is an indication of the maturity of pods. Each fruit ripens at its own time, requiring a daily harvest. To ensure the finest flavor from every fruit, each individual pod must be picked by hand just as it begins to split on the end. Overmatured fruits are likely to split, causing a reduction in market value. Its commercial value is fixed based on the length and appearance of the pod.
If the fruit is more than 15 cm in length, it belongs to first-quality product. Health benefits of vanilla:
Vanilla beans are one of the expensive non-pungent
spices especially used as flavoring agent in a wide array of sweet-drinks and confectionaries.
Vanilla extract composed of simple and complex sugars, essential oils, vitamins and minerals
The chief chemical component
in the beans is vanillin. They also include numerous traces of other constituents such as eugenol, caproic acid, phenoles, phenol ether, alcohols, carbonyl compounds, acids, ester, lactones, aliphatic and aromatic carbohydrates and vitispiranes.
Ancient Mayans believed that vanilla drink was supposed to have aphrodisiac qualities
. No modern research study, however, establishes its role in the treatment of sexual dysfunctions.
Its extract contains small amounts of B-complex groups of vitamins
such as niacin, pantothenic acid, thiamin, riboflavin and vitamin B-6. These vitamins help in enzyme synthesis, nervous system function and regulating body metabolism.This spice also contains small traces of minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, manganese, iron and zinc. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps control heart rate and blood pressure. Manganese and copper are used by the body as co-factors for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Iron is essential for red blood cell production and as a co-factor for cytochrome-oxidases enzymes.
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