Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Vanilla Extract vs Artificial Vanilla

Many baking recipes call for vanilla extract for flavoring, which can be easily found at the grocery store. Vanilla extract is merely vanilla beans steeped in alcohol and water. (This is easy enough to make at home and I do with white rum as the alcohol.) If you are purchasing it at the store, be sure to purchase the real thing....
Pure Vanilla Extract
Don't make the mistake of getting something artifical, such as:
or this.
What makes it artificial?
Well, imitation vanilla is a by product of paper production or a derivative of coal tar. It is made very inexpensively and therefore sells for much less than pure vanilla extract.

Why do people use it?
1. Some purchase it by mistake (and they find out their error quickly, as there is no mistaking the taste is "off").
2. People purchase it because it is cheaper than vanilla extract.
3. Believe it or not-- some people like the flavor.

The imitation flavor is commonly found in many frozen "ice cream" products like ice cream sandwiches, ice cream balls and low cost ice cream. It is found products, not just cheap products, like generic ice cream, but also Edy's ice cream nuggets.
It is also found in cake mixes, candy bars and baked goods.
Many bakeries also use imitation flavorings because it is cheaper. It is no "secret" substitution when artificial flavors are used, it is just that people become familiar with them.

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