What You Need To Know About Vanilla Pods?
Vanilla is a tropical orchid plant which is used abundantly as a flavoring agent in various desserts including ice creams and chocolates. In recent years, it has also been used extensively with sea foods. The hub of vanilla flavor comes solely from the plant’s seed pods.
Seed pods are a component of a plant which contain seeds inside it. Vanilla pods contain about half a tea-spoon of vanilla seeds. They are very laborious to grow and are only effective if ripe. A ripe pod is long and narrow, 20 cm in length, almost black in color, and is so pliable that it can be twisted around the finger without being broken.
Pods should be harvested soon after they reach the desired length and turn yellow-green at the base. Vanillin, the white colored active principle of vanilla seeds, may sometimes leak out and crystallize on the pods.
How To Use Vanilla Pods?
If the pod is not treated properly, it will lose its effectiveness. Here, are a few tips which should be followed while using vanilla pods in a recipe:
- Make sure the vanilla pod is sticky. If not, keep them in boiling water for a few seconds. The stickier the pods, the stronger will be their flavor.
- Now cut the pod in two and split each part vertically, this will expose the black sticky seeds inside.
- Scrape the black seeds with the back of a knife. Avoid using the sharp edge as it will destroy the seeds resulting in the loss of essence present in them.
- Add the seeds to the container you are cooking in.
- Add pods too. This will give your recipe a more complete vanilla flavor. Let the mixture boil.
- This allows the flavor to seep in.
- Strain the recipe to remove brown fibers and pods. Otherwise, they will make the dish look ugly and will also cause inconvenience during eating.
Where To Buy Vanilla Pods?
- Dried Vanilla pods are available throughout the year in the spice section of the supermarkets. They are brittle and usually snap in half during scraping of the beans. Fresh pods however are much more difficult to find and are usually available only in the metropolitan towns. Soaking the dried pods in boiling water may relieve the problems somewhat by making the pods moist and sticky.
- Many online stores offer vanilla seeds rich fresh pods. These pods are very easy to work with and are also rich in flavor and essence. Some of these online stores have a large variety of pods, sometimes as many as eight, which gives you the benefit of choosing the exact pods according to the recipe you need them for.
- Vanilla orchid is difficult to harvest. Like saffron, it requires a lot of work. Due to this every reason, vanilla seeds are extremely expensive and are usually kept look up in the markets. Yet, because of its widespread use and increasing demand, many farms have started growing vanilla. Fresh and healthy pods can be obtained from these farms at prices lesser than the supermarkets.
Vanilla Pods In Bulk
As vanilla is an expensive ingredient, purchasing the pods in bulk can be cost effective. However, bulk purchase comes with a lot of problems such as proper storage, etc. With the passage of time, the pods lose their stickiness and are easily broken. To prevent this, instead of storing the pods, vanilla seeds or vanilla extract should be preserved.
Vanilla seeds can be scraped off the pods and then stored in closed (but not airtight) containers. Care should be taken to place them in a cool, dry environment. Under such conditions, they are likely to last for at least six months. Vanilla extract can be stored indefinitely. Pure vanilla extract in fact, improves with age.
Best Vanilla Pods
Best Vanilla pods are the ones which are plump and have thin skin. Such pods are not only rich in vanilla seeds but are also easier to work with; the thin skin makes them easier to peel.
While purchasing the pods, check for any moulds or abnormal striations as these infections sometimes come from the country of origin. As you can see, in recent years vanilla become a popular flavoring agent which has drastically increased the worldwide demand of vanilla pods.
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