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Saturday, May 20, 2017

What's in your vanilla?

"First, a bit about what's in imitation vanilla. That's made from a compound called vanillin, and chemically, it's the exact equivalent to the stuff that makes real vanilla, well, vanilla. Vanillin is a lot cheaper, though, and that's because it's a byproduct that can be extracted from things like coal and wood. Who wants that in their cookies?"

If that interests you, read on.

I never use anything but vanilla extract.  I just do! The flavor of imitation vanilla extract disappears with heat. This next month will be the month I make my own vanilla extract. It will be cheaper than the McCormick tiny, precious bottles of vanilla extract.

In the meantime, I found reasons I have been wise to use a good vanilla product. Sure, there are probably more expensive ones, but this one has worked well for me for years. I certainly won't throw out my bottle of store-bought vanilla when I have made my own!

"Vanilla might be the boring old stand-by favorite when it comes to flavors, but it's also insanely expensive. The complicated process that needs to happen to grow real vanilla beans means it's one of the most expensive per-unit foods in your grocery store, and the price-per point of vanilla beans means that extract (the real stuff, not the imitation flavor) can be mind-bogglingly expensive. Sure, it goes a long way, but there's also no reason to buy it.
First, a bit about what's in imitation vanilla. That's made from a compound called vanillin, and chemically, it's the exact equivalent to the stuff that makes real vanilla, well, vanilla. Vanillin is a lot cheaper, though, and that's because it's a byproduct that can be extracted from things like coal and wood. Who wants that in their cookies? As if that wasn't bad enough, the FDA has warned against the dangers of certain types of vanilla extract that come from Mexico. These rip-off varieties of vanilla look and smell like the real thing, but they also contain a chemical called coumarin. It's banned by the FDA, still shows up on shelves in import stores, and can act as a powerful blood-thinner. Potentially dangerous types of this vanilla extract can also have tonka beans listed as an ingredient.
If you want to be completely safe, why not just make your own? It's easy: just invest in some real vanilla pods and a bottle of your alcohol of choice. That can be rum, brandy or vodka, they'll all work. Put in the beans, let them sit, and you'll have an entire bottle of pure vanilla extract at a fraction of the price."

source

In the meantime I found THIS. Below is an excerpt.

"Don't buy a food product in the United States that is not labeled in English. Products may have Spanish or other non-English labeling, but they must also have complete English labeling to meet U.S. Government standards. (Products sold only in Puerto Rico are an exception—they are not required to be labeled in English.)"

Coumarin, rat poison and anti-coagulant, could be in your cheap imitation vanilla. If the price is too good to be true, beware.

I read bloggers who suggest going to an ethic market, that it does not matter if the label is not in English. Are you sure?

Your turn
Do your ever use imitation vanilla extract? Do you make your own vanilla?

  
             

12 comments:

  1. I don't use imitation vanilla. Ever. I don't like the taste.
    I do put vanilla beans in caster sugar, which they flavour nicely. And pay the arm and a leg for vanilla bean paste.

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  2. EC,
    You are right. It does not taste good. However, after cooking with it, the taste just goes away. I have never put the beans in sugar or seen vanilla bean paste. I will look for it at Publix.

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  3. I make it with both bourbon and vodka, but prefer the vodka based for traditional vanilla flavor. I also have vanilla sugar. I buy bulk Madagascar beans then store them in vacuum sealed food saver bags. Glad you posted this because I am about out of beans and need to reorder.

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    Replies
    1. Anne,
      I definitely want the vodka but considered rum because I have some I use for making a certain jam. Plus, I bought a miniature of rum as a substitute called for in a recipe instead of vanilla. The rum instead of vanilla was sensational. I saw two vanilla beans in a jar at Publix for $12. Yikes!

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  4. A worldwide shortage of vanilla beans was reported in Nov 2016 - I think it started before that. Prices have significantly risen since then. On Amazon a 5 bean package of 5"-6" Madagascar beans sells for $18.95. At Sam's a 16oz bottle of McCormack's pure vanilla extract is $29.28.

    I reluctantly went to imitation vanilla which I only use in my oatmeal. It's OK but I won't buy it again. I'll wait out the shortage.

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    Replies
    1. Bellen,
      Thanks. I had not heard about that. I am going to WM in a bit and will check out the prices of vanilla. I don't remember the last time I bought vanilla, but it was exorbitant! I never buy the large bottles of vanilla, just the smaller ones. Maybe you could switch to maple syrup or something while you wait. Thanks for that info.

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  5. back in our no money early marriage days, I bought imitation, but have bought pure for many years now. I have a friend who makes her own vanilla every year and I've been wanting to try that some day.

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    Replies
    1. ONE,
      Even with no money, I never bought imitation. Ex did once and never did it again. lol

      Delete
  6. I make my own and have for 3 or 4 years- vanilla beans and vodka. I've ordered the beans online and also purchased at World Market when they had coupon sales. Right now I have 1 package with 2 vanilla beans I am thinking about using for homemade ice cream Memorial Day!

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  7. My grandmother had an assistant cook at times to help her make large dinners. I remember the woman would dab a bit of vanilla extract behind each year. Whenever I smell the stuff I remember her.

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  8. I dont use imitation but I do get good vanilla from ethnic stores.My daughter lived in the Cayman islands for years and would send it to me and I love it.

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