Exotic New Crop Could Put Florida on World Spice Map (The Sentinel)

Exotic New Crop Could Put Florida on World Spice Map

Vanilla has an undeserved reputation for being blah, as in plain vanilla, the flavor for people who consider chocolate too daring. The truth is a vanilla bean is an exotic thing — the only edible fruit of the orchid family — and an essential ingredient in a host of everyday favorites.

Most natural vanilla comes from Madagascar or a few other foreign locations, and demand far outstrips supply. But University of Florida scientists believe South Florida has promise as a place to grow the plants that produce one of the world’s most popular flavors.

“Vanilla likes it humid, vanilla likes it hot, so South Florida is a great location for this crop,” said Dr. Alan Chambers, an assistant professor of horticultural sciences at UF/IFAS Tropical Research and Education Center.

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