Vanilla cultivation in Kerala, India

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Vanilla beans maturing on vanilla vines in a Kerala plantation in India. This is where the vanilla flavour you taste in your ice creams comes from!

Vanilla is an orchid creeper which is one of the primary sources for the popular vanilla flavoring found in hot, wet and tropical climates. It is a perennial creeper with oblong leaves and green stem producing aerial roots at the nodes and climbs up trees such as areca nut palms or other supports for its existence. Vanilla flowers are greenish-yellow, with a diameter of 2 and are shot lived lasting for only a day. The plants are self-fertile, and pollination takes place within by transferring the pollen grains from the anther to the stigma. If pollination does not occur, the flower is plummets down the next day. Only mature plants produce vanilla fruit which are generally 6-9 in long pods. When these long pods mature after about five months, they are harvested and "cured". "Curing" ferments and dries the pods while minimizing the loss of essential oils. Natural vanillin or Vanilla extract is obtained from these cured pods (fruits) of the vanilla plant.

Vanilla is the world's second most expensive spice traded in the market. The concentrate is used for preparing ice creams, chocolates, cakes, pastries, puddings, soft drinks, pharmaceuticals and liquors. It is even used in preparing perfumes for giving fragrance, flavor and aroma. The history and origin of vanilla is a rather interesting tale to tell. In the early part of the sixteenth century during the Spanish conquest of Mexico, Spanish historian and army captain, Bernal Diaz discovered the great value of vanilla in Mexico. Later in the early 17th century, vanilla flavor was first introduced to France and England. Gradually, vanilla cultivation was introduced in South East Asia and Madagascar. The major vanilla producing countries are Madagascar and Indonesia. In India, parts of Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, north eastern region and Andaman and Nicobar Islands are suitable for vanilla cultivation. Karnataka has the largest area under vanilla cultivation in the country.

Labeled as 'God's Own Country' , Kerala is located on the Malabar coast of south-west India. It was created on 1 November 1956 by the States Reorganisation Act, and it combined various Malayalam speaking regions. Kerala has an area of 38,863 km2 and is bordered by Karnataka to the north and northeast, Tamil Nadu to the south and southeast and the Arabian Sea towards the west. Thiruvananthapuram is the capital city. Kochi and Kozhikode are other major cities.

This footage is part of the professionally-shot broadcast stock footage archive of Wilderness Films India Ltd., the largest collection of imagery from South Asia. The Wilderness Films India collection comprises of thousands of hours of high quality broadcast imagery, mostly shot on HDCAM 1080i High Definition, HDV and XDCAM. Write to us for licensing this footage on a broadcast format, for use in your production! We are happy to be commissioned to film for you or else provide you with broadcast crewing and production solutions across South Asia. We pride ourselves in bringing the best of India and South Asia to the world... Reach us at wfi @ vsnl.com and admin@wildfilmsindia.com.

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