Whether you’re an avid baker, seasoned ice cream maker, or gelato lover – at least one vanilla flavoring product might be stored in your kitchen (vanilla powder, vanilla extract, vanilla paste, vanilla sugar). But have you ever noticed that pure vanilla and artificial vanilla taste very different?
Pure vanilla packs the biggest punch of vanilla flavor, while artificial vanilla turns out to be less than you expected. However, some may say artificial vanilla is sweeter. Reason why is the sugar added, resulting in white powder. Pure vanilla is dark brown and when grounded to vanilla bean powder, it turns to a soft brown powder mixed with vanilla caviar.
If you expect fully dispersed vanilla-flavored baked goods, considering real pure vanilla will be the healthiest option. Let’s dive deeper into the main difference between pure vanillin content vs. artificial vanilla.
Pure Vanillin Content
If we’re talking about ‘pure vanillin content,’ it unmistakably refers to vanilla beans. Vanilla beans are the fruit of the orchid plant, harvested in Indonesia, Madagascar, and Mexico, Uganda to name a few regions.
It’s important to mention that there are three main types of vanilla – Planifolia, Tahitian and Pompona. The rest of the names you’ve probably heard of – Madagascar vanilla and Mexican vanilla beans for example refer to the region the vanilla was grown. Planifolia vanilla beans are the most common for the vanilla family.
Where does vanilla get its flavor from?
Vanilla pods have multiple layers for usage – in full for vanilla extract, but the treasure is vanilla caviar. Split open with a sharp knife and you will see shiny, sweet, natural vanilla caviar. Vanilla beans hold 1.5% to 2% vanillin content, which makes the vanilla beans packed with concentrated vanilla flavor. Due to this reason, all parts of the vanilla beans, from the inside to the outer parts, are worthwhile to utilize.
In contrast to pure vanilla, imitation vanilla is a mixture of refined petrochemicals or other synthesized ingredients mimicking vanilla in smell and flavor. Typically sweeter than pure vanilla due to additional sugars. Oftentimes, coffee shops like Starbucks use vanilla sweetener for their beverages in the form of vanilla syrup.
Imitation vanilla is a choice for cost-related reasons for small businesses, franchises and even pastry manufacturers.
Savoring a vanilla-flavored treat may have your mouth watering with anticipation, but you might not know that imitation ingredients like artificial vanillin or lab-made chemicals could be standing in for the pure vanilla. However, all these impersonating products are not enough to bring the taste of pure vanilla. The real thing possesses complex flavor components, and duplicating vanillin artificially means synthetic and un-natural.
Pure Vanilla Extract
Spotting the word ‘pure’ signifies that the pure vanilla extract should contain no artificial ingredients or added chemicals. Pure vanilla extract merely consists of bulk vanilla beans, alcohol solution, and water.
Furthermore, based on FDA’s regulation, pure vanilla extract holds 35% alcohol content and 65% water – refer to the FDA website for measurements in ounces. For this reason, it’s not a pure vanilla extract if it reveals less ratio of alcohol or contains additives like sugar, added sweeteners, and artificial colorings. In addition, pure vanilla extract reveals an amber-color. Therefore, if you find black-colored vanilla extract, it might be loaded with stabilizers and synthetic colorants.
If we talk about purity, it’s always better to go the real thing – vanilla beans or vanilla bean powder.
Tip: It’s easy to make homemade pure vanilla extract. Just give it a round in your spare time. First, you’ll need to prepare alcohol (the choice may vary from vodka, bourbon, whiskey, and others), bulk vanilla beans, water, and a vanilla extract bottle. Second, submerge vanilla pods into the blend of alcohol solution and water. Last, let it rest for 6-12 months until it changes color. Thats when you’re ready to use it in pastries, sweets and drinks.
Best Bulk Vanilla Bean for Pure Vanilla Extract Making
In executing your plan to make pure vanilla extract, you’ll need vanilla beans – preferably Planifolia. The plumper, the better – it holds more vanilla seeds (vanilla caviar) inside the pods, meaning more sweetness is extracted in your pure vanilla extract.
Essence Food & Beverage, LLC provides you with the plumpest bulk vanilla bean directly from the source, Indonesia. As vanillin production occurs during the curing stage, our Planifolia vanilla beans are traditionally cured by our farmers under the direct-sunlight. This way, we can maximize the final flavor notes and aroma profile; a sweet-chocolatey aroma with a heavy vanilla flavor.