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.Learn more about Exotic New Crop Could Put Florida on World Spice Map.