Posted 14 October 2008 - 07:15 PM
Posted 03 April 2009 - 11:37 AM
It turns out, we already are dosing ourselves with coumarin in a lot of our baked goods and breakfast goodies. Take a look at this German government food safety report, which they have very nicely posted in English:
Its used in rat poison and Coumadin to thin the blood with some pretty dangerous side effects. Do you really want to put that in your baking product?
A good substitute is to combine 1/2 tsp. each good quality vanilla and pure almond essence.
It's focused on the coumarin content of cassia cinnamon (as opposed to Ceylon/"True"/Saigon cinnamon). For folks who aren't cinnamon snobs, almost all the cinnamon you buy/eat in the US is actually cassia. "Normal" cinnamon sticks - one thick, curled layer, about 3 inches long - that's cassia. The ground "cinnamon" at the grocery store and supplied to the food industry, yep, cassia. "True" cinnamon is harder to get, more expensive, and in "stick" form, is made up of several paper-thin layers. It's also more potent and a bit more "spicey". Even "true" cinnamon has some coumarin, just at a lower level.
The grannie/hippie crowd should also get their beads in a bunch: chamomile contains coumarin! Oh my! Grannie must have been trying to kill me when she served me home made cinnamon rolls and chamomile tea!
About the "rat poison" issue - it's used as rat poison specifically because rats metabolize it differently than humans. It's strongly toxic to them, but only mildly toxic to humans (and almost never fatal), which makes it an excellent substance to use as rat poison. With an LD50 for humans of 275 mg/kg, it would take about 26g of pure coumarin to have a 50% chance of killing me.
As someone pointed out here, the US ban on Tonka beans coincided with the commercial development of Warfarin (trade name Coumadin), which is a chemically modified form of coumarin. I'd also like to point out that both purveyors of pure vanilla products and synthetic "vanillin" products would have reason to want Tonka beans banned as a competing product. I suspect that the Tonka bean industry had lousy lobbyists back in the 50s.
About "toxins" in general. Most "toxins" are totally harmless below a certain level. That's why the German government report above establishes a "Tolerable Daily Intake." The report also discusses the effects of higher doses, and reports that for the tiny percentage of individuals who appear to have a sensitivity to coumarin, they typically recover fully within weeks, and should not expect long term health implications.
To sum up: we're all exposing ourselves to coumarin pretty much every day already. But that's OK, because it doesn't appear to have a toxic effect below the "Tolerable Daily Intake" level. Sure it's technically "toxic", but only in relatively large doses, and medical evidence points to any liver damage from high doses being entirely reversible.
Posted 01 May 2011 - 11:42 PM
Posted 02 May 2011 - 10:03 AM
and I have Cottees w/Cyclamates) but Ill have to say that the words "Rat Poison" make me say NO!
Maybe tasting one single bite of a Tonka Bean cookie would be okay, but I dont wanna risk it.
Posted 02 May 2011 - 11:45 AM
As pointed out in an earlier post, they may produce "reversible" liver damage. However, it is only reversible if someone has a healthy liver to begin with.
For anyone who has had hepatitis in the past, has been a moderate to heavy drinker for many years or has been prone to binge drinking, the effect can be severe, if not fatal.
If the person consuming it is on any of the blood thinning medications, regularly takes NSAIDS or aspirin or medications for rheumatoid arthritis or other inflammatory disease, ingestion of even small amounts of tonka bean products can cause severe internal bleeding, bleeding in the retina with resulting blindness.
I know it's fun to play with some of these things and I do believe the FDA has gone overboard about some things in the past but this is something different.
Posted 02 May 2011 - 11:58 AM
Posted 18 November 2011 - 03:13 PM
Posted 18 November 2011 - 03:58 PM
I have a few plants given to me several years ago to see if it would grown in this area and I was going to try my hand at some minimal weaving. It is supposed to grow only north of the 40th parallel but at this altitude it is doing okay as long as it is shaded for most of the day during the hottest part of summer. It seems to have acclimated well and comes back every spring.
The only culinary use I have heard of is it's use in a syrup - to be used sparingly as it contains significant amounts of coumarins which are blood thinners.
Here's a couple of photos to show what it looks like. It's very windy right now so it is not standing. Tomorrow I will cut some and take photos in here with a ruler.
Most of the blades are at least 20 inches long, some a bit longer.
I've coiled some of it in a loose circle so you can see how the blades are long and supple.
I should add that I have been told by Native Americans that rabbits will not eat sweetgrass, even if they are starving. Apparently they know it will kill them. Not so dumb animals!
Edited by andiesenji, 18 November 2011 - 04:03 PM.
Posted 18 November 2011 - 09:08 PM
Interesting about the coumarins - that's in Tonka as well if I'm not mistaken.
Correct. That is the reason that vanilla flavoring that includes tonka beans is not legal in the U.S.
Posted 22 April 2013 - 03:02 PM
Posted 30 April 2013 - 12:14 AM
I got some last year, and though 1/2 bean was too little for my creme brule, so I used 1 whole bean. DON'T DO IT!
The beans pack a lot of flavour.
I made a Tonka ice cream a few weeks ago with a 1/2 bean and it was still a little too much - but maybe was boosed by the vanilla I also had in the mix. It really seems to attach to the oils.