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Pure Vanilla Extract


Far and away the most popular form of vanilla enjoyed today, pure vanilla extract gives rich vanilla flavor and aroma to ice cream, candy, cookies, and cakes.

Derived from dried, cured vanilla beans, pure vanilla has a fruity, spicy aroma that is delicate and perfumey, sometimes including woody, floral, even rummy notes. Pure vanilla extract has a rich, sweet flavor and a deep, dark-brown color.

Typical Uses

How could we bake without it? Pure vanilla extract is an essential ingredient, used for both sweet and savory foods, including ice cream, soft drinks, eggnogs, chocolate confectionery, candy, baked goods of all kinds, French toast batter, puddings, cakes, cookies, and liqueurs. A dash of pure vanilla also adds exciting flavors to salad dressings, vegetables, fruits, and flavored butters.


Vanilla originated in Mexico. The Aztecs enjoyed a drink made from cocoa and vanilla beans called xocolatl, from which we get the word “chocolate.” Today the United States buys vanilla beans from Madagascar, Indonesia, Uganda, and Tonga.

Dec. 6, 2010 5:31 am
Igot a bottle of clear pure mexican vanilla.Do I use the same amount as the dark American for a recipe? Is the mexican stronger? Thanks
Dec. 6, 2010 10:39 am
Penzeys Spices has several vanilla items, including vanilla beans from Madagascar and Mexico. The Penzeys quality is amazing, so much better than the "ordinary" mass-produced product in grocery stores.
Dec. 6, 2010 11:05 am
You can make your own with vanilla pods and rum or vodka.
Dec. 6, 2010 6:10 pm
I am steeping my own homemade vanilla now. I use 1 1/2 cups of vodka and three whole vanilla beans, sliced lengthwise. You should let it steep at least 4 - 6 weeks before using. It smells wonderful!
Dec. 6, 2010 8:51 pm
I thought I once read that artificial vanilla was made from by product of making pulp paper in the mill. can anyone confirm?
Dec. 7, 2010 4:05 am
Sandy, I used clear and regular vanilla in the same amounts.
Dec. 7, 2010 5:02 pm
Clear vanilla extract is the same as dark, it just won't leave a yellow color in your white cakes/frostings ect. you can use them interchangably, I do anyway.
Dec. 8, 2010 12:48 pm
I make my own real vanilla using vodka, and vanilla beans which I purchased online (much cheaper than the store-bought beans). This way, I know exactly what's in it. I "brew" mine for at least 6 months, until I can no longer smell any alcohol. I decant into a smaller bottle, add more vodka, and continue brewing. I always have some on the go. :)
Dec. 9, 2010 5:23 am
Penzeys is a wonderful vanilla but expect to pay more. If you look at the photo above it looks like a penzeys bottle.
Dec. 9, 2010 11:34 am
A great place, both for price and quality, to purchase vanilla beans, vanilla extract, vanilla paste, vanilla powder is www.olivenation.com
Dec. 9, 2010 1:08 pm
to sandy - i've been told that mexican vanilla is much stronger. when i've used it, i've used the same amount the recipe calls for- however, I usually add about 1/3 extra when using the kind you buy in the supermarket. i suppose you should go by how strong it smells and how much you like the flavor of vanilla. mexican vanilla DOES tend to give things a much richer flavor, though, which is nice!
Dec. 9, 2010 1:10 pm
sorry, forgot to specify - the mexican vanilla extract i'm talking about is the kind you actually buy in mexico. i don't know if that makes a difference in this situation.
Dec. 10, 2010 9:05 am
Just wanted to post a word of warning about vanilla extract purchased in Mexico -- Some Mexican vanilla contain coumarin as an additive. Be VERY careful when using!
Dec. 10, 2010 10:00 am
To make your own vanilla extract you need a minimum of abt. 8 beans per 1 cup of alchol (vodka) for single strength. It needs to steep abt. 6 months for the flavour to mature. If you use any less beans you are only making vanilla flavoured alcohol and not a real extract.
Dec. 10, 2010 10:29 am
I put instructions on how I make extract on my blog if anyone wants to make their own: http://dressingmissdaisy.blogspot.com/
Dec. 12, 2010 7:21 pm
I use about six beans/ 8 ounce of vodka/rum, your choice. Six months of steeping time and I shake it once a week. After that, I remove the beans, scrape the seeds and place the seeds back into the vanilla. It is fabulous--I give it away at the holidays and receive many compliments.
Dec. 29, 2010 10:28 pm
What is Coumarin is a spice,,, I have Molina Mexican vanilla blend and it say;s it does not contain Coumarin... thanks for any info on this,,,
Apr. 18, 2011 8:14 am
Coumarin is a cheap additive used in cheap brands of both vanilla and cinnamon. It is bad for your liver.
Apr. 18, 2011 3:00 pm
The best Vanilla I have ever found is brewed in Western Mass. The family has been doing it for about 100 Yrs. or so. Charles H Baldwin and Sons West Stockbridge, Ma 01266 413-232-7785. They only use the finest beans from Madagascar. They also make a Vanilla Vinegar that is great in salads and my Swedish wife also subs for regular vinegar in Red Cabbage. If you are in that area A stop at their store would be a nice step back in time, low key, kid oriented [Ribbon Candy, Etc] and reasonably priced. Their spice selection is second to none.
Apr. 19, 2011 11:21 am
BUZYB, it's vanilla *essence* that's made from wood pulp (or something along those lines), so you should always use either real vanilla or vanilla extract, rather than essence. I only discovered this recently - I had no idea the two were so different!
Apr. 20, 2011 7:04 am
As for the above listing on 4/18...there is a website for the Baldwin store... www.baldwinextracts.com I make my own also...but I am going to order some of theirs to compare!
Apr. 20, 2011 12:54 pm
I received as a gift a bottle of clear pure vanilla extract concentrate from the Dominican Republic "LaFavorita". I have been hesitant to use it as I didn't know that vanilla extract could be clear. Is it the same as the American version?
Apr. 20, 2011 9:03 pm
I have been using Spice Hunters vanilla extract for several years now. What makes it superior is that it tastes good on its own. I threw out my other vanilla extract when I discovered this one. Try it. You will not be disappointed.
Apr. 22, 2011 3:30 pm
I love to make my own vanilla, and my friends and family love getting it for a gift. I have tried different types of vanilla, but the best I have found are Tahitian vanilla beans. Will never use any other. Once you try Tahitian vanilla you won't want anything else. Divine!
Apr. 24, 2011 10:15 pm
I may not be allowed to mention a company name on this site but I will: Watkins. They make a double strength vanilla. You can purchase online. I've been buying regular store bought of late and then add 1/2 of a vanilla bean to it. Works well.
Sep. 21, 2011 6:42 am
I just came from Tahiti with more vanilla. Tahiti is not growing vanilla like they used to. It's gotten very expensive - in my mind What is a "fair/average" price for vanilla beans? I was told to put it in rum. Looks like vodka is more popular. How long does one bean last (uncut and cut)?
Sep. 24, 2011 5:19 pm
For anyone that makes their own vanilla, I would like to give as a gift but Im concerned that it is made with vodka. I know once you cook with alcohol that it cooks out, is it the same with homemade vanilla. I bake alot but have always bought vanilla, and would really like to try homemade. Thanks
Nov. 7, 2011 2:50 am
To save money I make my own vanilla extract. I ordered Madagascar vanilla beans on line and used Absolute vodka. I found using a quality vodka is better for me one with little or no scent. This is not necessary you can use any vodka or even rum. I made mine about 10 weeks ago so it will be ready for Christmas gifting. It needs weeks in the pantry before it is ready for use. The recipe is on this sight. It is so easy to do.
Nov. 7, 2011 3:09 pm
Nov. 9, 2011 7:54 pm
I bought some Madagascan vanilla beans for making vanilla extract. The company I bought from I think has some of the best vanilla bean prices, versus Nielsen-Masey, which I hear is of great quality as well. So, if you want vanilla beans for cheap, check there web site out.
Nov. 9, 2011 7:56 pm
Okay since I can't post a link to the site, the company is called Vanilla Products USA. I ordered a pound of extract grade vanilla beans.
Nov. 10, 2011 9:28 am
I have had really good luck get the Watkins and Spice Island extracts with the vanilla seeds included from Ross! It is half the price you would pay in other stores.
Nov. 12, 2011 2:35 pm
I purchased vanilla in Mexico while on a cruise about 10 years ago. What a difference! When I ran out, I bought Totonac Pure Mexican Vanilla online. It is wonderful. I will never use artifical vanilla again.
Nov. 13, 2011 5:45 am
I recently used Penzey's vanilla in cream cheese frosting I put on banana bars and received many compliments! I too thought it tasted better!
Jan. 2, 2012 9:28 pm
I have used Mexican, Dominican, and Haitian Vanilla. Mexican is the best as far as flavor for me, but I will look into the other online sites listed.
Jun. 7, 2012 3:39 pm
where can you get it on line?
May 2, 2013 2:11 pm
I made vanilla with organic Madagascar Burbon vanilla beans.
May 6, 2013 12:53 pm
this is a very tasty dish and easy to cook for a short time,i like this dish,and i will make this dish as soon as posible
May 9, 2013 5:36 pm
We are serious about our vanilla extract. We buy either Penzey's or The Spice House Madagascar Vanilla (same owners I believe). We put vanilla in pancakes, cookies, french toast, oatmeal and many other things. Don't skimp on brands you find in the grocery store!
Jul. 4, 2013 7:18 am
It is easy to make your own extract and a lot cheaper. You need a 5oz jar, 3 vanilla beans, and vodka. Slice the beans open length wise. Place in jar and cover with vodka. Let stand for one month and it is ready to use. When you take some out of the jar add more vodka. the beans will last more than a year. When it no longer infuses replace the beans. The longer it sits the stronger the flavor.
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