Is there anything more delicious on a hot summer day that a cone of Vanilla Ice Cream? Let me answer that for you. No. There’s nothing better. However, the star of that show (Vanilla) isn’t even at its best in its frozen-milk state. Even though Vanilla Ice Cream is delicious, Vanilla extract has so many incredible properties and can work wonders for your mood and other physical ailments - more than you can even imagine! Shall we explore?
To begin to understand Vanilla, we have to hop in our time machine and head all the way back to 15th century Mexico, where the first actual documentation of Vanilla harvesting originated. Although it’s popularly believed that Vanilla had been cultivated prior, there’s not enough evidence to support that claim. However, there’s plenty of evidence that supports claims that the Aztecs were the first civilization to adopt Vanilla culturally and employ it as a “cash crop” for trade and culinary ventures . Shortly after the Aztecs began moving Vanilla throughout their empire, Spanish conquistadores began traversing the Atlantic Ocean and arrived on the shores of Mexico. Not only did they find one of the most powerful empires in human history, they also discovered Vanilla, which quickly grew to enormous popularity. Soon after their discovery, Vanilla was sent back over the ocean for a sort-of Show-and-Tell to the leaders of the Spanish Empire. After realizing its potential as a cash crop, the Spaniards and Portuguese began transporting Vanilla to tropical climates all over the world to places like Réunion in order to begin harvesting the plant on their own.
Shortly after all of this transpired, a widely unknown and under respected slave by the name of Edmond Albius made a discovery regarding Vanilla that would literally change the world. Unfortunately, his discovery would never be fully appreciated, and he would end up dying in poverty after being freed 30 years prior. However, his discovery would live on to become an aspect of Vanilla cultivation that has been, and probably will be, the most important single technique in the timeline of Vanilla. Edmond discovered the method by which Vanilla farmers in all corners of the globe use to artificially pollinate the flowers!  Until that time, farmers relied on bees to do the pollinating for them, and that was both a slow and unreliable process. Through his discovery, plantation owners could then increase their yields by incredible amounts, and the production of Vanilla flourished.
Aside from its use in the kitchen for culinary purposes, the side effects of Vanilla as an essential oil were relatively unknown until the 20th Century, because the methodology for creating a “liquid” form of Vanilla was not possible with the technology available. Additionally, and it’s very important to note this, Vanilla pure essential oil is not actually a thing. It’s physically impossible to create a pure essential oil with Vanilla because it’s not possible to cold press Vanilla into a liquid. However, Vanilla absolutes or extracts are possible to create, through processes like CO2 extraction, and the byproduct of such processes do indeed yield a solution that can be used in a similar fashion to essential oils. Here at Corked, we use Vanilla Absolute which is created in the fashion explained above.
Vanilla extracts and absolutes are known to carry several constituent properties, many of which can make a huge difference in the outlook of your day! Vanilla is a known antioxidant, aphrodisiac, antidepressant, sedative, and tranquilizer, so you can bet that the most common application of Vanilla Absolute is to help you fall and stay asleep! However, its antioxidant properties cannot be overlooked. Vanilla is believed to rid the body of Oxidizers, also known as free radicals, that are responsible for many deficiencies in the body like a weak immune system and vulnerability to other, more treacherous, diseases. In fact, Vanilla can go as far as not only ridding the body of such free radicals but reversing any damage they’ve already done to the body! On top of these amazing characteristics, Vanilla is also a known aphrodisiac which, in layman's terms, helps to increase libido for those “special times” with that special someone!
Overall, Vanilla has so many amazing properties, it’s hard to ignore the potential it has to make your day better. Even though it makes for your favorite ice cream, it’s worth checking out what else Vanilla can do for you! You can get started by heading over to www.corked.com and checking out our Mix of the Month - “Robust”
- which contains Vanilla Absolute!
- Rain, Patricia; Lubinsky, Pesach (2011). "Vanilla Production in Mexico". In Odoux, Eric; Grisoni, Michel. Vanilla. USA: CRC Press. p. 336. ISBN 978-1-4200-8337-8.
- Rain P (1986) The Vanilla Cookbook. Celestial Arts. Berkeley, CA.