Native to Central America, the history of vanilla is intertwined with the history of chocolate! Christopher Columbus tried to bring vanilla to the continent of Europe but it wasn’t until the 19th century that it was possible to produce the vanilla on this continent.
It was at that point that they realized that a specific species of bee, native to South America, played an indispensable role in the formation of the fruit. Vanilla is now produced in all tropical regions of the world but the cross-breeding is done by hand.
Cut a vanilla bean lengthwise and pull out the seeds with the tip of a knife. The empty beans may be added into your sugar to give it more flavour! Ground vanilla beans are delicious when added to your yogurt, hot cereal or cakes. They are very fragrant which means that half a teaspoon is enough to flavour your dish!
Ground vanilla beans can be kept for 6 months in the fridge. They should be kept in an air-tight container.
The Mayans and Aztecs filled their drinks with cocoa and several vanilla beans. This drink, intended only for nobles and warriors, was called Xocoalt.