Tonka beans is the name of interesting plant from the tropical jungles, whose pods are used as a spice. Perhaps the main reason for the limited popularity of tonka beans is that they can be toxic.
In moderate amounts, however, this spice is a real pleasure for the senses. It is used mostly for flavoring cakes, because it has the taste of bitter almond and a unique combination of flavors - vanilla, cinnamon, cloves. Tonka bean oil (dipteryx odorata) has a slightly bitter-sweet taste and a crystalline structure that gives it shape.
Tonka bean pods come from interesting tree, known as Dipteryx odorata, a member of the legume family (Fabaceae). It is native to the Orinoco region in the northern part of South America.
The word Tonka has Caribbean origins and comes from one of the local languages in French Guinea. Tonka beans are also called Tonkin bean, tonga bean, soumarouna odorata, or only cumaruna, which is the old name of the cumaru tree. In its native region, this spice is known as " love beans".
Along with Venezuela, Colombia and Brazil, Guinea is among the few countries where the tonka bean tree grows. Major producers of seeds are Venezuela and Nigeria.
The trees themselves are quite high, and like most tree species in the tropical jungle, the have a long life. It is said that one in every 100 tonka bean trees can reach up to 1000 years old.
Besides being quite high, these trees are characterized by large and oval leaves. Their blooming period is quite nice, with purple flowers, but after this period, it will produce fruits - pods that except in cooking, are very popular in the perfume industry.
Caribbean locals believe it has magical properties. It is believed that tonka beans are capable of making wishes come true and bring good luck. To this end, locals throw grains in watersheds hoping to get their heart’s desires fulfilled.
South Americans mixed tonka bean seeds with milk and drank this mixture, they believed that they bear the seed of Mother Earth, or in other words, by drinking the potion, they derive ground forces.
Oil from the beans is added to the base oil was once which used to flavor tobacco. A little later, it was added and cigars, which has made it a raw material for the tobacco industry before, however, it is prohibited in some countries.
Composition of tonka beans
As mentioned, tonka beans in large quantities can be toxic, so even today in some countries, they are banned, so they stopped using them as a raw material in the manufacture of tobacco products. Tonka beans contain coumarin too.
That is the reason for the pleasant smell of the tonka bean and manufacturers use it extensively in the perfume industry. Coumarin has a bitter taste and in large doses there is evidence of liver damage in rodents. This is why many governments control it as a dietary supplement. It is believed that tonka beans synthesized coumarin as a defensive reaction, like many tropical plants.
Using Tonka Beans
Before being banned in several countries, tonka beans were widely used as a substitute for vanilla in the manufacture of perfume and tobacco industries. And today, the beans used in the production of certain types of tobacco (Dunhill Royal Yacht, Samuel Gawith 1792 Flake).
USA is a country where the plant is prohibited and it was once used to produce drugs, particularly anticoagulants based substance 4-hydroxycoumarin, which is a chemical derivative of coumarin extracted from tonka beans .
However, the tonka bean is used in the perfumery industry, it is often used in soap with a pleasant vanilla scent. There are chocolates, with the addition of fragrant pod, which even win international awards.
Brazilian teak is gaining increasing popularity for the flooring industry. In the U.S. they are extremely preferred because they are very durable and make nice wood shades.
Culinary use of Tonka Beans
With its unique flavor blend of vanilla, cloves, cinnamon and bitter almonds, it is a very convenient spice for sweet temptations. It can be added to pasta, pies, puddings, creams, biscuits and sweets, based on coconut taste, etc., but the best tandem is of tonka beans with chocolate.
Use it sparingly when making ice cream or soufflé, for example. It is believed that a few grains offer ample flavor to 1 kg pastry. With tonka beans Italian-style tomato sauce can be prepared, which has excellent flavor and taste.
Benefits of tonka beans
Many benefits can be derived from tonka bean oil, which is considered to be a great tool for aromatic nourishing ligaments. This oil combines very well with macadamia oil. Use in a ratio of 1:7 with base oils. You can apply it on the area around the neck in a small amount, because its effect is strong - it has the ability to activate the left frontal part of the brain and the right occipital area.