The Role of Lipids in Vanilla Beans and their Transformation during Curing

Contact Author Patrick Dunphy and Krishna Bala
Fill out my online form.

Examination of the composition of the key aroma chemicals in cured vanilla beans reveals a collection of molecules dominated by phenolic compounds. The analysis conducted by Perez-Silva et al. identified 24 key aroma active compounds from extracts of cured Mexican vanilla beans, of which 13 were phenolic. In addition, two C4 deoxy compounds and five short-chain fatty acids, including straight-chain even- and odd-number acids and branched chain equivalents, were also important.

Aldehydes were represented by a C7 and C10 monounsaturated and two di-unsaturated C10 compounds. Although the phenolic compounds, especially vanillin, are known to be derived from the shikimate/phenylpropanoid pathway, the fine details of their formation are still surprisingly a matter of speculation.

Much has been written regarding the localization of the vanillin precursor glucovanillin in the ripe vanilla bean, as well as the site of the β-glucosidase enzyme responsible for the hydrolysis of this precursor to vanillin. Much less is known of the biogenetic origin and pathways of formation of non-benzenoid aroma compounds found in cured vanilla beans. Structurally, these compounds may be related to lipids.