Vanilla is native to south and central America and the Caribbean. The plant is a large climbing vine whose yellowy green flowers produce the familiar long vanilla pods, which are then cured and dried for about four months. Vanilla pods contain a complex mixture of flavour and fragrant components, the most notable of which is vanillin. It is so labour intensive to produce that most vanilla-flavoured foods enjoyed today are manufactured using synthetic vanilla flavouring.
Vanilla essential oils are extracted from the pods by steam distillation and solvent extraction. It is a subtle and extremely expensive spice.
Vanilla has been used for hundreds of years in ancient medicine and aromatherapy. Vanilla oil has several medicinal properties, including being anti-inflammatory and antioxidant and aiding mood improvement.
Used primarily as a Base Note