Vanilla is one of the world's most popular food flavoring additives, and is beloved for it's sweet, calming scent in bath & body products. But there's so much more to vanilla extract than its amazing scent and flavor profile. Read on!
The history of vanilla dates back to ancient Mexico, where it was first cultivated from the vanilla orchid. These days it's grown in tropical regions all over the world.
A DELICATE PROCESS
The harvesting of commercially produced vanilla is a delicate, labor-intensive process. Vanilla planifolia is a tropical vine with beautiful yellow-greenish flowers that last only a short time. In order for vanilla orchids to produce pods, the flower must be hand-pollinated. In the wild, they are pollinated by specific breeds of hummingbirds or bees native to Central America. The vanilla orchid can be up to 5 years old before it starts producing vanilla bean pods. The vanilla pods or "beans" mature for up to 10 months before they are harvested and go through a labor-intensive drying/curing process for another two to five months.
- Vanilla is the second most expensive spice, after saffron.
- The past several years have been economically disastrous for vanilla. Increasing global demand, typhoons and a series of poor harvests have caused vanilla scarcity, and therefore prices have skyrocketed, sometimes surpassing the price of saffron!
- Because of these issues, farmers are now working towards more sustainable farming methods of vanilla.
VANILLA IN SKINCARE
Not only does it add a warm, calming, comforting scent to any formulation, but the benefits of vanilla in skincare are pretty amazing!
- The rich antioxidants found in vanilla extract have the ability to prevent and reverse skin damage caused by free radicals and environmental pollutants, helping to slow the signs of ageing; such as fine lines, wrinkles and age spots.
- Additionally, vanilla is a good source of B vitamins like niacin, thiamin, Vitamin B6 and pantothenic acid, which also contribute to the maintenance of healthy skin.
- Its anti-inflammatory properties help soothe and calm irritated skin.
- Its antibacterial properties help reduce skin infections and aids in wound healing.
- Its comforting scent helps calm the mind and lift the mood, generating feelings of well-being.