Vanilla comes from an orchid (Vanilla planifolia), which is the only variety of orchid that produces an edible fruit. The fruit is known as the vanilla bean, which is rich in the natural organic compound called “vanillin”. Vanillin, along with more than a hundred other organic compounds, contributes to the unique flavor profile and aroma of vanilla.
Vanilla is native to Mexico, where the Totonacas culture developed the cultivation of this crop. Now, vanilla is cultivated in many tropical areas around the world, especially in Madagascar.
Vanilla is the second most expensive spice after saffron, because growing the vanilla seed pods is labor-intensive. Despite the expense, vanilla is highly valued for its flavor, which author Frederic Rosengarten, Jr. described in The Book of Spices (1976) as "pure, spicy, and delicate"; he called its complex floral aroma a "peculiar bouquet". As a result, vanilla is widely used in both commercial and domestic baking, perfume manufacture, and aromatherapy.
Folklore abounds about the medicinal properties of vanilla. For example, Dr. Francisco Hernandez, during his expedition to the New World (1570 to 1577) documented some of the uses of vanilla in traditional Totonaca medicine. He wrote that the vanilla flowers were made into "collars" that served as amulets to prevent various illnesses. Vanilla beans were an antidote for certain venomous bites. Mixed with chocolate it allegedly cured flatulence. It was used for respiratory pain and congestion, deep coughs, stomach ailments, and as even made into a salve to treat syphilis.
Blends of traditional herbs and vanilla were also used. Vanilla beans, combined with mecasuchil, allegedly encouraged better circulation, opened airways, stopped aches and chills, and cured chills and fever. In conjunction with ahoyapatl, it was used to treat heart conditions.
Europeans, and later, Americans, considered vanilla a stimulant but, paradoxically, also a treatment for hysteria and nervousness. Dr. John King wrote in the American Dispensatory in 1859 that vanilla was an aromatic stimulant useful in infusion for treating hysteria, rheumatism, and low forms of fever. "It is said to exhilarate the brain, prevent sleep, increase muscular energy and stimulate the sexual propensities."
The beneficial nutrients in vanilla beans are vanillin, caproic acid, eugenol, phenol ether, phenols, carbonyl compounds, acids, esters, vitispiranes, lactones, and carbohydrates, B-complex, calcium, potassium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, and iron. These components help to produce the beneficial effects noted through the ages.
Ambiance™ C o n f e c t i o n s uses only the finest raw vanilla bean powder available. Our vanilla bean powder is certified organic by Quality Assurance International (San Diego, California). It is also wild crafted, raw, non-GMO, and naturally gluten free. This vanilla has a creamy, sweet, smooth, and mellow flavor. Our vanilla bean powder is not an extract. It is a powder made from the whole bean. The vanilla beans are hand harvested and then sun dried. The dried beans are then powdered by a low-temperature, mechanical process. The cold processing of this vanilla leaves the nutrients intact and ensures that it retains its luscious natural aroma and flavor.