15 fruits we eat but don’t know how they grow (part 4)
Vanilla Powder and Pods
Real vanilla has little to do with vanilla or vanilla sugar, which we purchase in supermarkets for baking. It is indecently expensive, because its cultivation is very difficult, and the crops are meager – a maximum of two centners per hectare. Vanillin is a product of the chemical industry, and vanilla is the dried and powdered fruits of perennial orchid family vines.
This plant, encircling a tree, climbs to a height of 15 meters. The vanilla stem is very thin, and the leaves are fleshy and flat, long and oval.They grow immediately from the stem, which does not branch. Vanilla flowers bloom no more than one day. After fertilization, the ovary is detected only on the 7th – 9th month! The vanilla fruit is a narrow oblong cylinder about 25 cm long and a half cm wide with small seeds inside. The difficulties with growing vanilla are associated, first of all, with the problems of its pollination. Oddly enough, in the wild it can be pollinated by only one species of hummingbird and bees of the same genus, which live only in Mexico. On an industrial scale, vanilla is pollinated by hand. To do this, use a special brush. This is a very lengthy and not always effective process. Only half of the flowers pollinated by artificial method give an ovary.
A perennial herb with long narrow leaves and a valuable rhizome – ginger – is now rarely seen in the wild. What we eat is a crop grown mainly on plantations in India and Southeast Asia. Ginger flowers slightly resemble the familiar irises.
It is interesting that in the Middle Ages, ginger was brought to Europe, where it became famous as the most effective preventative against plague. Its price was simply fabulous. In cooking, ginger began to be used much later than in medicine.
Read about how to grow ginger in the article: Ginger – seasoning and medicine. Growing Methods.
We are used to thinking of pistachios as nuts, although the science of Botany claims that these are fruit seeds – drupes. They grow on small trees, often called shrubs with a dense crown. Pistachio tree blooms in April, the fruits ripen by September-November, depending on the variety and region of growth.
In the wild, pistachios grow almost everywhere in Asia, in areas of North-West Africa. The nature of Syria, Mesopotamia, Iran and Central America is rich in pistachios. These plants are cultivated in southern Europe.
Pistachio trees are centenarians. It is believed that in favorable conditions they live at least 400 years.
Read more about how pistachios grow in the article: How pistachios grow?
The cinnamon spice is not a fruit, but the dried inner part of the bark of the Ceylon cinnamon tree, which belongs to the laurel family and the cinnamon family. Cultivated plantations of cinnamon look like shrub plantations. Twice a year, bark is removed from young shoots of plantings. This is a very troublesome affair. Firstly, you need to wait until the end of the rainy season, then removing the bark is not so difficult and its smell is the most saturated. Secondly, it is necessary to remove it with strips with the exact parameters of length and width – 30 cm and 1-2 cm, respectively.
Young cinnamon tree
Sri Lanka is considered the birthplace of cinnamon, but today it is grown everywhere in India, Brazil and the countries of Southeast Asia. The best varieties of Ceylon cinnamon are those that have a bark the thickness of a sheet of paper….