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 as well as holiday treats, from Christmas cookies to Hanukkah sufganiyot (fried donuts) to coquito, Miami’s superior upgrade of egg nog.
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.
Read more from our news partner The Miami Herald.