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There are not many aromas that evoke the instant sensation of desire and comfort, like that of vanilla. Whether the star of the hunger-inducing scent of freshly baked cookies or the seductive fragrance of your favorite perfume, vanilla is treasured by many. The sweet smell of vanilla has been shown to be a highly effective antidepressant, mood enhancer, and health booster due to a component called vanillin hydroxybenzaldehydem. Soothing and harmonizing, vanilla has been shown in studies to help comfort, stabilize, and induce feelings of relaxation.
This sacred spice has been used in ritual offerings and as medicine and perfume by the Aztecs. This is where the irresistible and hopelessly addicting blend of vanilla and chocolate was born, as the Aztecs flavored their cacao-based drink with this prized, tropical bean.
Cuttings of this ancient orchid were eventually taken to Africa by the French, where now 80% of the world’s natural vanilla is produced. It generally takes three to five years for the vanilla plant to produce any blossoms. Not only does each flower require hand pollination, but it takes many additional months following harvest for curing to occur. Vanilla is one of the most labor-intensive of our ingredients to produce and is now the second most expensive spice in the world (following saffron).
Highly sedative, vanilla helps to reduce skin inflammation and its powerful antibacterial components aid in clearing skin infections. Rich in skin-nourishing vitamins and minerals, vanilla naturally reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Its high content of antioxidants helps protect the skin from environmental damage, ensuring an even skin tone.
Unfortunately, today less than one percent of “vanilla” you find in food or fragrance comes from the vanilla flower itself (yes you read correctly – not even one percent), rather from synthetic reproductions. Our organic vanilla CO2 extract boasts an impressive 26% vanillin content, the component which gives it its rich, natural aroma. The manufacturing process of a CO2 extract involves none of the heat or moisture associated with steam distillation. The result is a deep and gentle extract, free from any chemical residue. Ours is a genuinely spectacular product made strictly from Madagascar beans. We are incredibly selective with each of our ingredients, but especially so when it comes to the standard of our difficult-to-obtain vanilla. With extremely limited stock available, we invest at a premium cost to ensure we can always maintain our obsessive quality commitment. Our same maker provides us with our fresh ground vanilla bean powder, equally expensive, and exceedingly delicious. It’s my favorite bin in the kitchen to lean into for a big breath of heaven mid-day!
Featured in: The Clean Dirt, The Honey Mud, The Jasmine Garden, The Problem Solver, and The Blue Cocoon