Vanilla and pepper!

I got to thinking , after reading a thread today where people were talking about Vanilla and how they pick up “pepper notes” in many vanillas, what the heck is pepper?
And what the heck is vanilla?
Let’s do this…
Botanists describe a fruit as the part of the plant that contains the seeds. That’s why weirdly, tomatoes are considered a fruit. Cucumbers and avocados too.

We typically think of the fruit that share the host plant with sugars, as fruit. But there are savory fruits.
How does vanilla grow?
The Vanilla plant is a vine, and from that vine hangs the vanilla bean. After being picked it dries and becomes leathery, oily, and a bit wrinkly. Cut that bean in half carefully, and inside you find two things; seeds, and a gooey stuff not unlike the fruit from a date or fig. Should we call vanilla a fruit? Let’s not get off track.
How does pepper grow?
The pepper plant is a vine, and from that vine hangs long clusters of seeds, peppercorns. Once dried, they become those hard round balls we put in our pepper grinders. It’s seeds!

“Go forth and be fruitful”, not sure if that’s Shakespeare or the bible, but again, let’s not get off track.
To be “fruitful” is to spread your seed, that’s how stuff gets to make more stuff.
Taste vanilla bean before it gets turned into a candle or a cookie, it’s fairly nasty stuff. Smells great, but the “flavor”, pretty bitter and acerbic. Much like cinnamon and cocoa, it isn’t much until you start adding sweeteners and creams to it.
3Seeds in food besides vanilla and pepper?

*Caraway, the seed associated with Rye bread.
*Fennel, a licorice-like seed found in Italian sausage and lots of Indian dishes.
*Cumin, the seed that smells like armpit but tastes wonderful in tacos and chili.
*Coriander, from the cilantro plant, sweet and tangy.
*Mustard, the faith seed, better used ground up with vinegar than in denying science.
*poppy, great on bagels and muffins or in a syringe as heroin, a friend repellant.

You get the idea. But notice that all these seeds, if you put them in your mouth and chew, might have flavor variations one from another, but all have a flavor or essence that might be considered “peppery”.

So next time you taste Vanilla and there’s notes that remind you of pepper, remember, it sort of is. :slight_smile:


So how do you explain that I love vanilla and I have it in all sorts of ways… but it’s (so far) ONLY TPA vanilla flavors, mainly the ice cream and custard, that gives me pepper?

I don’t really buy it that because it looks the same or grows in a similar way, that there automatically similarities. We live in a wonderful world with an almost inexplicable and wonderful amount of variety … maybe that’s just my bubble? Don’t burst it :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:


I know! It’s awesome!
I love flavors and how they relate to life. So many memories in flavors. Just wrote a piece this morning about my dad taking me to the bike shop to buy me a Schwinn stingray in green, and the smell of fresh tires and paint…
I don’t know. Except to say that the chemists are bringing together the “concept” or “essence” of the flavor, by artificial means, and might choose to honor or deny those various notes they want to express.
But yes! It’s a wonderful thing to have flavor in our lives. It’s music for our tongues.


I just always figured it was somehow related to their Ethyl Vanillin, like maybe it’s synthesized differently than what the other brands use. It’s a mystery that one. 🤷


Yeah I don’t claim to understand the chemistry of creating flavors. I don’t know if its a molecular structural thing when you build it with chemicals or what, but here’s something I’ve always wondered…
There are three common sources for the odor I would call “skunk”. I’ve come across it in the following; from the skunk or its roadkill, also from bottled beer in green bottles that have been exposed to light or heat, rendering them “skunky”, and then of course those of us that have been around the “marijuanas” are familiar with the skunk essence you sometimes get from particular strains.
So I wonder if the same molecular structure, or at least similar, appear in all three of these?


This is for me as well…i use to get pepper with LB above 3.75pct BUT I just mixed it at 4pct and NO pepoer note so I may push it a bit more


Its body chemistry reactions. How your body differs from others is uniquely your own.
This is why certain people pick up things either for better or worse in vaping. Not to forget, its also how your body changes too. Remember, your cells constantly undergo changes, and 3 years from now, you might not get that pepper kick back… Then again, it could effect you all of your life. You might not take certain vitamins (your body might not hold on to them) like other people or you might have something wired into your dna that causes this. Only keep trying, or you will never know if it does change :slight_smile:

btw @Chef_Johnny… good article :wink:


today when testing a 50/50 mix of 3.5%VBIC tfa, 2%vanilla swirl tfa and 2.5%Western cowboy tfa with hint(0.5%) of VC cap and sweet cream tfa… After 10 days of steeping, its ALOT of pepper exhale (vapes’ taste like a peppers’ cream ONLY) Tastes owful to me.
I will never do this again… Or i might consider lowering VBIC and VS percentage to max 1.5% when mixing with toppaco.
But i did use them together before in a cream base mix with strawberrys and it was great although i didn’t get any strawberry … I guess the pepper note enhanced by western maybe.
Also i might try another VBIC, may be VBIC FA.


Many people get pepper from TFA vanilla (vanilla swirl, VBIC etc) a quick search of the forum will give you viable subs if you are a pepper taster.