There are three species of vanilla, all of which grow from a perennial climbing orchid. Vanilla is native to Mesoamerica and was used by the Aztecs. _ Vanilla is the second most expensive spice after saffron because of the labor intensive nature of hand pollination. Vanilla pods are picked green and unripe. The pods must go through a curing and fermenting process before a fragrance develops.
Vanilla powder is made by grinding whole vanilla pods. Use in baking as a quick _substitute _for vanilla beans.