Complexity is the Hallmark of the World’s Most Popular Flavor

Part 4 of 7

Vanilla is regularly named as one of the most popular flavors in the world, but 99% of vanilla flavor used in the flavor and food industries is derived from synthetic or microbial processes used to produce vanillin, a chemical component that comes from many sources, including vanilla. However, nothing can compare with the complex flavor profile of real vanilla products prepared from the finest vanilla beans. 

“The vanilla bean as a spice has over 300 different flavor components that lend their mixture to the flavor profile of vanilla beans. Only one of which is vanillin, often cited as the flavor component,” explains Nathaniel Delafield, co-founder of LAFAZA. “But the vanilla bean is extremely complex in terms of its flavor and aroma. You can imagine the complexities and nuances of flavor among vanilla beans from one farmer to another.”

Vanilla has to be left on the vine long enough. If harvested too early, the flavors do not develop fully, resulting in a weaker, less-nuanced flavor. If the curing process is not done correctly, the aromas and flavors will not fully mature. 

“Our flavor profile is a Bourbon vanilla, vanilla planifolia, which is grown most places. Bourbon has nothing to do with the alcohol, it’s named from the French dynasty that brought vanilla to Madagascar and the surrounding region. It also refers to the curing process,” adds Delafield. 

“Curing brings out flavor notes like plum and chocolate. These are top notes that you can taste. Then there’s something magic underneath it, deep nuances of flavor that come from the forest where it grows and the people who are growing the vanilla with love,” says Delafield. “Our growers and curers live for vanilla. Their care and commitment to making this product beautifully as an art as well as a science shows up in our flavor profile.”

Our next installment will look at the importance of fair trade and sustainability. 

Click here to try recipes featuring our White Pumpkin and Almond Murabba with cardamom & vanilla.

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