Vanilla Unmasked: A Tahitian Treasure

Vanilla Unmasked: A Tahitian Treasure

Vanilla is the world’s most popular flavor and is a key component in Walpole Creamery’s award winning ice creams.  The vanilla plant was originally native only to Mexico and certain tropical South American countries.  It was known to the Aztecs who referred to vanilla as “Tlilxochitl” or “black flower.”  It was first introduced to Western nations by the Spanish explorer, Cortes.  Its initial use was in making “xocolatl” or hot chocolate.  That process is still continued today and the Walpole Creamery’s proprietary blend of vanillas is an essential part of the production of our Double Dutch Chocolate super premium ice cream.

Vanilla, the seed of happiness

The name for vanilla comes from the Spanish word for the shape of the vanilla bean which is curved.  In Spanish, “Vainilla” means “little scabbard.” Shortly after its introduction in Europe, vanilla became extremely popular and it is reported that Queen Elizabeth I would not eat anything unless it was seasoned with vanilla.

Un Bee-lievable

The first cultivation of vanilla took place in Mexico during the 19th century.  Early attempts to cultivate the plant outside of Mexico failed because the plants would not bear fruit. The mystery was solved by the Belgium botanist, Charles Morren, who discovered that the vanilla plant’s flower could only be pollinated by a very small bee that was indigenous to Mexico. He suggested hand pollination of the flowers and by using this method vanilla was successfully grown outside of Mexico.

Today the primary source of vanilla is the Indian Ocean countries of Madagascar, Comores, Reunion and Seychelles and is commonly referred to as Bourbon Vanilla.  Mexico is beginning to regain its stature in the vanilla market and Indonesia and Tahiti also produce significant amounts of vanilla. Tahitian beans have a distinguishable flavor/aroma because the vanilla is a different species: Vanilla tahitensis.  The flavor of Tahitian beans is characterized by a sweet, cherry or almond-like taste.

Award Winning Combination

The Walpole creamery uses its own proprietary blend of vanillas to produce its ice cream.  The formula for that blend was developed by Bobby Dorman, the head of ice cream production, while he was a student at Penn State’s prestigious Ice Cream Short Course and includes some Tahitian vanilla.  Bobby’s formula provides the unique taste of our Tahitian Vanilla super premium ice cream.

Walpole Creamery – FROM COW TO CONE.

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