Vanilla is the name of a spice derived from an herbaceous liana belonging to the Orchid family. Etymologically, the name comes from the Spanish vainilla, which comes, in turn from the Latin”vagina” signifying sheath or pod.
It is a robust climbing herbaceous liana, with a meaty stalk that is 10-15 metres long. The pods, fresh and odourless, have a diameter of 7-10 mm. They contain thousands of miniscule grains that would be liberated by the explosion of the mature fruit if they were not harvested while green.
The maturation of the fruit takes 8-10 months, passing from an initial green coloration, to yellow, and finally to a dark brown at complete maturation. The mature fruit is completely odourless; its unmistakable and prized perfume is acquired under a process of fermentation.
The vanilla contains reduced sugars, fatty substances, nitrogenous and tannic acids, some organic acids ( oxalic, tartar, and citric) and manganese.
Its overall importance is not attributable to these components, but rather to the presence of numerous aromatic substances, mainly vanillin and many acids (vanillico, vanillinico, piperonilico).
The Torronificio Scaldaferro, utilizes in its production the Vanilla Planifolia or Vanilla Fragrans which grows on the archipelago of the Reunion Islands, specifically on Bourbon Island (from which originates the name bourbon vanilla).
The long pods of the Bourbon Vanilla are of an exceptional quality: the Prima and the Terza Nera pods, which are 14-20 cm long, unbroken vanilla pods containing 2% of vanillin.
The vanilla in its pod, after maturation, is added to the powdered sugar and mixed with the honey at the end of the cooking process.