Vanilla comes from something called a “vanilla bean” or a “vanilla pod.” (You can probably find them at the grocery store – they look sort of like dried-up black-colored string beans!) While they don’t look very much like other fruits that you’re used to seeing, these very special vanilla pods are the fruit of a type of orchid plant! Inside of a vanilla pod are small vanilla beans. These beans become the flavor and smell you know as vanilla once they go through special drying and processing, known as fermentation. Vanilla extract, the liquid vanilla-flavoring, is made by crushing and mixing the beans. Sometimes recipes will also call for using the beans or pods themselves.
Most vanilla is grown in places with warm weather, like Madagascar, China, and Indonesia. Cooks use this yummy flavor for everything from ice cream to cake to cookies and more!
ExplorationVanilla, vanilla!What is your favorite vanilla-flavored thing to eat?
Ask a grown-up to find a recipe that uses vanilla, and then make this yummy food together! See if you can get some whole vanilla pods to carefully cut open and use a recipe that calls for these instead of the liquid extract, so you can see what these cool beans look like!
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