Vanilla beans are pleasantly fragrant. The bean is the pod of the orchid native to central America and originated from Mexico. It is available as beans and essence.
Use: Known for its flavour, it is added to desserts, puddings, drinks, sugar, syrups, cakes, biscuits and creams. It is a favourite in custard deserts and to infuse hot milk and sugar. Vanilla sugar can be made by placing vanilla beans in a jar of sugar and sealing it for a couple of days. Vanilla essence or extract is the concentrated liquid extract of vanilla pods which can be used as flavouring in place of the real thing.