Vanilla is a flavoring derived from the fruits of the Vanilla orchid, a native plant of Mexico. Only vanilla originating from Indian Ocean islands such as Madagascar, the Comoros, and Reunion [formerly the Ile de Bourbon] can call itself Bourbon vanilla. Our Bourbon Island vanilla extract has a full, rich, intense flavor no imitation can compare to.
Originally cultivated by Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican peoples, Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes is credited with introducing both vanilla and chocolate to Europe in the 1520s. In 1819 the French began cultivating vanilla on Bourbon Island, now called Reunion Island, just off the coast of Madagascar.
Vanilla is the second most expensive spice [after saffron], due to the extensive labor required to hand-pollinate and grow the vanilla seed pods.