Melinda's Garden Moment Video

Melinda Myers

Nationally known gardening expert, TV/Radio host, author & columnist with over 30 years of horticulture experience and tons of gardening information to share! www.melindamyers.com

Melinda's Garden Moment videos will help you create that beautiful landscape you’ve always wanted. Each week throughout the growing season, a new gardening video will be added right here, so be sure to stop back. You can also watch Melinda’s Garden Moments on your local network TV station affiliate.

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You may be surprised to discover that one of the most popular flavors in the world, vanilla, comes from an orchid.

The vanilla orchid vine (Vanilla planifolia) is native to tropical forests of Central and South America. It was first used by Aztecs to flavor their chocolate drink. 

In its natural environment, the flowers are pollinated by a specific insect that inhabits the same areas as this orchid.  When grown commercially, outside of its native habitat, the flowers must be pollinated by hand for the long bean to develop.

The beans are harvested, dried and cured. This long arduous process explains why vanilla is the second-most expensive spice in the world.

As the demand for vanilla outgrew the supply artificial vanillin was created. This synthetic version is made from a variety of items including the lignin from paper pulp.  Imitation vanilla extract is derived from synthetic vanillin not the vanilla plant.

A bit more information: Curing the vanilla is also labor intensive. The beans are dipped in boiling water, dried in the sun and covered at night.  This takes several months for the vanilla flavor to develop.