Vanilla beans (pods) are the dried unripe fruits of the vanilla orchid (Vanilla planifolia). Vanilla absolute is extracted from the beans of the plant. These plants can be found growing in Madagascar and Indonesia.
Every flower is pollinated by hand and each blossom produces a single bean that is normally harvested after 8/9 months. Vanilla absolute is obtained from the pods by a complex process.
Vanilla pods and vanillin extracted from them are widely used as flavourings in cakes, ice creams and custards.
Vanilla absolute, resinoid and vanillin are popular perfumery ingredients and are heavily used in aromatherapy.
Vanillin is the main source of the characteristic vanilla scent and it has also been shown to have some antioxidant properties.
To make powdered vanilla, the dried vanilla pods are ground to a fine powder.
The effect is a beautifully fragrant powder, which is absorbent and adds texture to a product.