WHICH VANILLA EXTRACTS ARE CLOSEST TO HOMEMADE?
VANILLA EXTRACTS - CLOSEST TO HOMEMADE™
Ah, vanilla. It’s one of my favorites! When I was a kid, not so much . . . but now I adore the nuance + refreshment of truly excellent real vanilla.
Vanilla Extracts is a category that’s surprising it would need a Closest To Homemade™ post >> how Far From Homemade can vanilla extract be? Well . . .
HAVE YOU HEARD OF ARTIFICIAL VANILLIN?
Whole Foods Market has a list of ingredients which they ban because they consider them “Unacceptable in food” >> due to this list, I am aware of an ingredient called Vanillin with an ’n’ at the end which is an artificial form of vanilla. All artificial flavors are banned at Whole Foods Market so, hence, is Vanillin.
Unfortunately, Vanillin is present in almost all artificial vanillas and, in some products, it is combined with real vanilla.
McCORMICK’S BAKER’S IMITATION VANILLA FLAVOR IS RECOMMENDED BY COOK’S ILLUSTRATED MAGAZINE AS THE WINNING IMITATION VANILLA. (Source: Cook’s Illustrated January & February 2019).
COOK’S ILLUSTRATED COMMERCIAL COMPROMISE: As a novice baker, I avidly pursue information regarding how to optimize known techniques and am a big fan of Cook’s Illustrated magazine. In an article entitled Tasting Vanilla Products which reviews both imitation and real vanillas, this publication chose to award a ‘Winning Imitation Vanilla’ to a product whose use of artificial ingredients is so Far From Homemade that it compromises the Cook’s Illustrated core equity of being the premier publication for dedicated chefs.
Let’s take a look at what’s in this Cook’s Illustrated recommended completely artificial product from McCormick’s. (Source for ingredients: McCormick’s Web site 3/11/19)
McCORMICK’S BAKER’S IMITATION VANILLA FLAVOR WHICH IS RECOMMENDED BY COOK’S ILLUSTRATED MAGAZINE IS BANNED AT WHOLE FOODS MARKET. There are three ingredients in McCormick’s Baker’s Imitation Vanilla Flavor which are banned at Whole Foods Market. (Source for banned ingredients: Whole Foods Market Web site 3/19) These three McCormick’s banned ingredients are Vanillin, Ethyl Vanillin and Sodium Benzoate.
In addition to the Vanillin, Ethyl Vanillin and Sodium Benzoate, the McCormick’s Baker’s Imitation Vanilla Flavor contains other Far From Homemade™ commercial ingredients like Propylene Glycol and Phosphoric Acid.
Q: Are these chemical ingredients you want in your baked goods?
Q: Are these ingredients you expect from a product whose usage is endorsed by Cook’s Illustrated? Why do you think Cook’s Illustrated endorses artificial stuff?
REAL VANILLA BEANS. Real vanilla comes from a vanilla bean. Vanilla is sold this way as a whole bean >> we can split it open and scrape out the inside for use in baking and cooking. Yum!
VANILLA EXTRACTS IN LIQUID. Once split and open, the vanilla must be stored in such a way as to prevent spoilage and that is generally by combining it with water and alcohol to allow it to reside in a bottle for an extended period of time. The alcohol acts as a sanitizing agent, keeping the liquid viable for us to consume. This is why most real vanilla extracts contain alcohol.
SOME VANILLA EXTRACTS HAVE ADDED SUGAR. Although the purpose of vanilla is to flavor something, it seems some manufacturers have added sugar to their Vanilla Extracts to also sweeten them like Penzey’s Spices (who also adds sugar to the majority of their spice blends) has added sugar to both their Pure Vanilla Extract and the Double-Strength, too. J.R. Watkins has added sugar in their Baking Vanilla and Nielsen-Massey has added sugar in some of their vanilla extracts. Sugar, of course, also has preservative capabilities and may be acting in this way to an extent for these products.
VANILLA EXTRACTS WHICH ARE Closest To Homemade™ HAVE NO ADDED SWEETENERS OR COLORS, NO CHEMICAL PRESERVATIVES AND NO ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS. These include Non-GMO Project Verified Frontier Co-Op Organic, Spicely Organics, Flavorganics, Nielsen-Massey No Sugar Added which is Non-GMO Project Verified, Whole Foods’ 365 Brand Organic Vanilla Extract and Simply Organic Pure Vanilla Extract.