The particularities of different vanilla extracts

The particularities of different vanilla extracts

Vanilla is a highly popular flavor among those who enjoy exotic tastes or simply those who appreciate good things. Vanilla is a key ingredient in many desserts, dishes, and beverages. Vanilla extract is one of the most widely used vanilla products in kitchens. It is primarily intended for specific uses; culinary professionals prefer the actual vanilla bean. Working with the bean is part of the preparation process for top chefs before incorporating vanilla into recipes. Vanilla extract offers many advantages, including simplicity.

What is vanilla extract?

Vanilla extract is a vanilla product made with pure vanilla. By macerating vanilla pods in a mixture of water and alcohol, it is a viscous substance. Genuine vanilla extract is pure and natural. Madagascar vanilla is globally renowned for its quality. Vanilla extract from Madagascar is made from these Bourbon vanilla pods. There are a wide variety of pure vanilla extracts available. They can be differentiated based on the origin of the pods: Madagascar vanilla extract, Tahitian vanilla extract, or Mexican vanilla extract.

As a result, the various vanilla extracts available on the market have different strengths and flavor profiles. Prices also vary from one extract to another. It’s not easy to determine which one to choose; however, vanilla extract, regardless of the variety, offers a unique flavor to all sorts of recipes. In cooking, vanilla extract can be used to create delicious recipes with pure vanilla flavor: cakes, cookies with buttercream frosting, hot beverages, cold beverages, cocktails, sauces, and original dishes for special occasions.

What are the differences between Madagascar vanilla extracts and others?

Like the vanilla bean, Bourbon vanilla extract is now the standard among the extracts offered on the market. It has a distinct aroma and is known for its rich taste, consistent flavor, and rather intense cocoa note. Madagascar vanilla extract is used in most sweet and savory recipes to enhance their flavors. Madagascar holds a significant position in the global vanilla market. Its production accounts for 80% of the global supply.

Mexican vanilla is the origin of the Planifolia vanilla cultivated worldwide. It is considered the finest vanilla on the market. Mexican vanilla has a more woody and spicy note than other vanillas. Therefore, Mexican vanilla extract is very delicious; its aroma blends beautifully with cooking spices like nutmeg, pepper, cloves, and allspice.

The rarity of Tahitian vanilla and its floral and fruity cherry notes set it apart. This unique flavor profile makes it popular among top chefs. Tahitian vanilla extract brings a delicate flavor to cold or frozen recipes.

Vanilla powder and its different forms on the market

What makes vanilla extract pure?

According to the FDA, vanilla extract cannot be classified as “pure” unless the product meets a set of strict requirements. Pure vanilla extract must contain a minimum of 100g of vanilla pods and 35% alcohol per liter. The allowed ingredients in vanilla extract are also limited and 100% natural: vanilla pod, alcohol, water, and sugar. Purists of spices and food enthusiasts search for higher-quality vanilla extracts among those on the market using these FDA requirements.

What technique is used to extract the vanilla aroma?

In Madagascar, there are two techniques for extracting vanilla aroma: percolation or maceration. Each of these operations can be carried out at room temperature or at a higher temperature. Hot extraction helps facilitate and accelerate the dissolution of vanilla pods in a mixture of water and alcohol. Hot extraction requires some skill because the process can lead to aroma loss and, thus, a loss of quality.

  • Maceration Extraction:

This is the method that artisans use to extract the vanilla aroma. This technique is very simple; it involves macerating the pods in the water and alcohol solution and regularly agitating the container to separate the extract from the spent pods. The spent pods are reused until they are completely exhausted.

  • Percolation Extraction:

This technique is the most interesting for extracting plant aromas. The percolator allows the complete exhaustion of the material to be treated through repeated passage of the solvent or dynamic action. A tap is located on the lower part of the percolator. Its adjustment allows for regulating the extract’s outlet speed. A slow speed enables deep aroma extraction, but the process can be lengthy.

Why does vanilla extract contain sugar?

Sugar is also one of the FDA-approved ingredients in pure vanilla extracts. The use of sugar is recommended in hot extraction; it acts as an aroma fixative. During extraction, alcohol evaporates, carrying volatile fragrances with it. Malagasy producers use cane sugar, but other aroma fixatives can also be used: ordinary sugar, inverted sugar, dextrose, cereal syrup, propylene glycol, glycerin, etc. Producers generally add 150 to 200 grams of sugar per liter of extract to prevent the substance from becoming too viscous. The sugar content in vanilla extract represents less than 5% of the final product.

What is the perfect dosage for vanilla extract?

Vanilla extract is less potent than vanilla powder. The perfect dosage depends on the desired intensity of vanilla flavor, but the general rule for achieving a perfect dosage of vanilla products in recipes is: 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract = 1 tablespoon of vanilla bean paste = 1/2 tablespoon of vanilla powder.

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