Everyday magic: vanilla flowers in our life
Vanilla aroma accompanies us all life: since childhood we remember the smell of delicious vanilla rolls, youth is associated with us with the perfume of a girlfriend or with your own favorite fragrance. The warmth and comfort of each of these memories! Not so long ago, scientists have established that the aroma that exudes vanilla flowers, as well as the stronger odors derived from the fruits of this plant, have a calming and calming effect on the human nervous system. When did humanity learn about this plant, where does this flower grow and what conditions do they need? In this article, let's try to talk about such a flower as a vanilla orchid, the photo of which is presented below, and also answer all the questions posed.
A bit of history
The hometown of vanilla is Central America, whereit was highly appreciated by the local residents - the Aztecs, who used it to improve the taste of the sacred drink - the prototype of modern chocolate.
The first European to taste thisspice, was Christopher Columbus, who was treated to a chocolate drink by a local ruler. It was Columbus who brought vanilla to Europe, where her delicate taste was first appreciated in countries such as Spain, Austria and Italy. The Spaniards, having grown fond of vanilla aroma and profit obtained from the sale of pods, took most of the tribute from the Mexican tribes most of the tribute, formed after the vanilla flower had blossomed. More than three centuries, the Spanish kingdom was the only importer and seller of vanilla in the Old World. Due to the high cost and complexity of the delivery, other countries got acquainted with this spice a little later. Thus, at the beginning of the 17th century, vanilla was added to pastries, as well as flavored with smoking compounds for pipes and alcoholic beverages.
Vanilla, more precisely - vanilla orchid -The only representative of the family Orchidaceae (Orchidaceae), bearing fruits, which are actively used by man. The subspecies of this plant growing in the tropical regions of both terrestrial hemispheres is about 100. To produce vanilla, only three types are grown on an industrial scale:
More details about each of them will be discussed later.
All vanilla - curly creepers, which innatural conditions can reach 40 meters. In nature, they parasitize on cocoa trees, and on plantations they are placed with special supports or planted next to them are Drazen trees, which do not suffer from such a neighborhood. Vanilla lianas grow quite fast, the gain for a month can go up to a meter. The stem of the vanilla is herbaceous, forming in the process of growth a lot of air roots, which help the plant to cling and hold on to the trees. The leaves of these orchids are fleshy, oval-lanceolate in shape.
Large and very nice smelling vanilla flowers,photos of which can be seen below, collected in a brush and painted in yellowish-green colors. The perianth consists of six petals, one of which is folded into a tube and forms a "lip" into which a pistil and a single stamen are hidden.Such a structure of the flower makes it difficult for it to be pollinated, which can be performed only by local bees of the same species and hummingbirds.
Vanilla blooms for the third year of its life, withthis every flower lives only one day. Ovaries that form pollinated vanilla flowers develop very long: from 7 to 9 months - and form a narrow, elongated cylindrical fruit 10 to 30 cm long. Inside the brown single-chamber box there are a lot of brown-black small seeds. These plants bear fruit for a long time, from 20 to 50 years.
Translated from Latin into Russian, Vanilla means"Pod", and today three species of this plantare grown to produce a favorite spice. It should be noted that the vanilla flowers that were discovered in Central America served as the progenitors of all species used today.
So, the most widespread and possessingthe strongest and sweetest flavor Vanilla planifolia grows in Central America, Indonesia, the Caribbean islands and Madagascar. Flowers of this species, which have an intense and delicate aroma, are pollinated artificially. The fruits of this plant, collected by hand, are widely used in cooking and cosmetology.
Less common and fragrant is the so-called antill vanilla-Vanilla pompona, grown in Mexico and Panama, as well as in other countries of Central America. This species is used in most cases as extracts in the food industry.
Another kind of orchid, whose fruitsused in cooking, is the result of the crossing of Vanilla planifolia and pompona Tahitian vanilla - Vanilla tahitensis J.W. Moore. Grow this plant on the islands of French Polynesia, as well as in some other southern regions of the Pacific Ocean. Pods of this type contain less vanillin, but more than other fragrant component - heliotrope. Thanks to him, Vanilla tahitensis has a softer and delicate aroma with a predominance of fruit and floral notes. In addition to culinary applications, beautiful and fragrant vanilla tahitensis flowers are grown for aromatization and decoration of various territories.
Where does it grow?
If initially vanilla grew only insome regions of Central America, today it is grown in many countries of the tropical belt. For normal growth and development, this plant needs a humid and hot climate. In this case, plants need a temperature of no higher than +300С and not below +150And about 80% moisture is desired. All types of vanilla are quite demanding on the soil: it must be loose and enriched with organic substances, it is good to let in air and water.
Today, vanilla is cultivated in many countries,located in the regions from 10 to 20 degrees from the equator: in Mexico, Brazil, Paraguay, the USA, the states of West Africa and the islands of French Polynesia.