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Description: This is the seed pod of a climbing plant of the orchid family of which there are more than 50 known species. The species grown for commercial vanilla is Vanilla planifolia, a tall climbing herb with yellow flowers. The beans vary in length (10-18 cms.) and color and when dried resemble irregularly shaped twigs than the conventional bean such as coffee and cocoa. The higher-grade beans are rich and dark with an oily feel to them. The inferior beans are generally quite dry and plain light brown. The flowers are pollinated by hand to produce 30-40 beans per plant The once picked green beans are they immediately cured to prevent spoilage. The primary use of the vanilla bean is its extract that is a highly regarded food flavoring for ice cream, puddings, cakes and other foodstuffs. The extract is made by percolating the chopped bean pods in ethyl alcohol and then concentrating the mixture by evaporating the alcohol at a low temperature to avoid impairing the flavor. Vanillin, a substance that crystallizes on the surface of the ban during the curing process and possesses the characteristic odor and flavor can also act as a chemical intermediate in the production of various pharmaceuticals and as a preservative. Vanilla extract is classified in three grades: 1, 2 and 3. The top or Grade I is all natural or pure vanilla. Grade 2 contains up to 50% of synthetic or artificial flavoring and the lowest Grade is comprised of more than half artificial flavoring. Vanilla beans are grown in humid, tropical climates, the rule-of-thumb being 20 degrees north and south of the Equator. The beans thrive in wet, moist environments but for the flowers of the plant to bloom, they need a solid two months of dry weather. Although the vanilla bean is native to Mexico it is grown commercially in Madagascar, Indonesia, the Seychelles, Reunion, Tahiti and Mauritius. Uganda, India and Costa Rica are emerging growers.
Index: 750
Commodity Name: VANILLA

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