Vanilla is the most common and popular flavour known across the world. Interestingly, vanilla, even though is essentially a spice, is often pejoratively used to refer to the lack of spice in a recipe to describe the latter as boring. But those who love the subtle taste of vanilla will disagree with those insinuations. Vanilla is a favourite ice cream flavour for many and is used in an array of desserts.However, not all of us have tasted natural vanilla extract; in fact, many still dont know that it grows naturally! In addition to that Vanilla is very expensive because of the difficult production process. If you have been wondering where does vanilla flavouring come from? you will find the answer here. Where does vanilla flavouring come from?Vanilla is one of the most expensive spices in the world. And yes, it is a spice. The vanilla flavour comes from certain types of vanilla orchids. Not many countries produce vanilla; only about 15 countries have a considerable annual production of vanilla. This is because vanilla grows in a tropical climate with high humidity and lots of shade. Madagascar and Indonesia are the top producers producing over 2,300 tons of vanilla every year. Indonesia, Mexico, and Papua New Guinea produce between 500-900 tons individually. Other countries that produce considerable amounts of vanilla are Turkey, Malawi, Uganda, Tonga, Kenya, French Polynesia, Zimbabwe to mention a few. Artificial vanilla flavouringVanilla orchids are not the only place that the vanilla flavour comes from. Are you now wondering One of the most expensive spices? Then how come do we find it at a very cheap price at the supermarket! It is because the vanilla flavouring most of us get is artificial.Even if you find vanilla extract labelled natural vanilla flavouring at a cheaper price, it is still not natural vanilla extract. It is chemically manufactured with the exact composition as that of natural vanilla. This is why you can never tell the difference no matter how sensitive your palate may be. It has essentially the same components. Artificial vanilla flavouring is so popular that if you ask people from non-tropical regions about how vanilla flavour is made, they will tell you it is made at some food flavouring factory. Many people dont even know about natural vanilla. Uses of vanilla flavouringWe all know about the uses of vanilla flavour in a dessert. We also know about its uses in other similar dishes. But the vanilla flavour is also used in medicines, especially syrups that have some flavour. Laboratory produced vanilla flavour is called vanillin and it is the reason why you can stomach a lot of essential medication that you would otherwise throw up. Vanilla extract is medically used for: healing wounds and burns treating acne promoting hair growth skin rejuvenation relieving nausea. improving digestion. treating depression and anxiety improving dental health. Professional bakers however like to use the extracts as they generally like to keep the recipes authentic and best in quality. Vanilla extract or flavouring is commonly used in making ice cream, cakes, puddings, custard, pies, pastries, bread, biscuits and cookies, milkshakes, as well as in whipped cream or frosting. What you need to know about vanilla beansThere are over 110 types of vanilla orchids, and the version of it that we consume comes from the vanilla planifolia variant. Vanilla grows in the form of dark bean pods and they look dry and blackish. The beans are separated from the pods and then the vanilla is extracted from the beans. Sometimes, the beans are used wholly in some teas, alcohol, or other beverages to extract the flavour in its rawest form. The outer pod too can be used for flavouring milk or sugar. You can extract the flavour at home yourself if you have access to natural vanilla pods. You can make the beans into a paste or leave them for about two months to let the aroma come out. If you visit an exotic tropical vacation spot and find vanilla pods, dont worry about them drying out. You can purchase as many as you want and carry them on a flight. If they dry out, you can rehydrate them by soaking them in milk for hours. You can also soak them in lukewarm water. Does some vanilla come from beavers? If you Google Where does vanilla flavouring come from? you will very clearly see it is a vegetarian ingredient. But a random 2013 article stated that vanilla comes from the excretion of beavers. While it is not entirely false, it is a gross oversimplification. Natural vanilla is 100 per cent vanilla plant extract. Most artificial vanilla has all the vegan ingredients. There is also a small amount of vanilla that has an FDA-certified ingredient called the castoreum, which is a secretion, of the castor sacs of beavers. It is mostly used in some perfumes and cosmetics but never in natural or artificial food flavouring. Hence, if you are a vegetarian or vegan, or if you simply do not want to consume anything that has anything to do with beaver poop, you do not have to sacrifice vanilla as it is 100 per cent plant-based edible product. Another interesting anecdote is that at the laboratories, food-grade vanilla and cosmetic grade vanilla are produced differently. Current status of vanilla extractionThe global report of the Pure Vanilla Extract Market will tell you from where the vanilla flavour comes standing today. Key players like Castella, Nielsen-Massey and Lochhead Manufacturing predict a steady growth of vanilla production in the next 5 years, and this is just about the natural vanilla extract alone. Yes, vanilla is so big a deal that there is a dedicated board to evaluate its potential in the market! FAQHere are a few fun facts about Vanilla: It comes from orchids. It grows naturally and only within a range of 10 to 20 degrees from the Equator. A toothpick-like stick is used to pollinate vanilla beans by hand. Madagascar, Tahiti, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and India have different flavours of vanilla because of the differences in the soil and climate. India produces around 8 tons of vanilla annually. Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu grow vanilla naturally but in a controlled weather setting. The vanilla flavour is one of the most popular flavours across the world. The USA imports the majority of the worlds vanilla. So, of course, one may easily conjecture those countries that naturally produce their own vanilla are indeed blessed.