Did you know that vanilla ice cream is one of the most popular ice cream flavors in the US?
It is just a basic flavor. Some may even consider it “boring”. And there are so many flavors out there that are just so lip-smacking and decadent. Why is it that vanilla ice cream beat rocky road ice cream? Cookies and cream? Coffee? Or even everyone’s favorite, chocolate?
Because vanilla ice cream is the embodiment of how simple makes perfect.
And today, we will talk about vanilla ice cream as July 23rd is National Vanilla Ice Cream Day!
Where Does Vanilla Ice Cream Come From?
Ice cream itself goes all the way back to the Yuan period in the 14th century. It was brought over to Europe when the Arabs and the Moors traveled to Spain between 711 and 1492. The Italians got their hands on it, became real interested in making ice cream and the rest is history.
But did you know that it was the French who started to use vanilla to flavor their French vanilla ice cream? This recipe was the one brought over to the US by Thomas Jefferson.
And it should come to no surprise that the perfect way to enjoy vanilla is to use the whole beans and scrape the ‘seeds’ out (exactly how vanilla ‘ice cream’ should be made!). But if that is not possible, make sure to use pure vanilla extract for the best flavor.
Some Extra Little Fun Facts
- More than 30% of Americans say vanilla is their favorite ice cream, which is also the top-selling flavor with 33% of the market.
- In Europe, vanilla was used as an ingredient in nerve stimulants and ancient Mayans believed that adding vanilla to drinks would have an aphrodisiac effect.
- Vanilla is the second most expensive spice in the world, right after saffron.
- The melipona bee found in Central America is the only one to pollinate vanilla. In other parts of the world, including Madagascar, humans need to duplicate the process using a wooden needle.
- Vanilla extract is not the same as artificial vanilla flavor. Dissolving vanilla beans in alcohol makes the former, while the latter is made with a byproduct of the wood pulp industry or, more recently, from a petrochemical.
How Can You Celebrate?
Perhaps by trying out our exclusive plant-based Perfect Dairy-Free Vanilla Ice Cream recipe! This recipe is special because you can actually use it as a base for any ice cream flavor you would like to make. Instead of using vanilla beans, you can add cocoa powder (check our Velvety Dairy-Free Chocolate Ice Cream recipe!), nut butters (did I hear pistachio?!) and/or fruits.
So enjoy National Vanilla Ice Cream Day and savor perfection at its finest!