True vanilla flavor comes from the cured seed pod (bean) of the vanilla orchid. The properly prepared pod contains vanillin and 100s of other flavor compounds. Vanilla orchids are the only orchids that produce an edible seed. The primary producers of vanilla beans are tropical areas:f Mexico, Madagascar, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea.
Planifolia vs tahitensis vanilla
There are two distinct types of vanilla orchid:
1. Vanilla Planifolia beans have a strong, familiar vanilla flavor, it is often called ‘Madagascar Bourbon’. Planifolia is the same variety grown in Mexico.
2. Vanilla Tahitensis is a weaker vanilla with ‘fruity, floral, and sweet’ flavors created by the compound heliotropin. Tahitensis is a mutated form of a planifolia orchid from Tahiti, though most tahitensis vanilla is now grown in Papa New Guinea. This vanilla is favored by pastry chefs.