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Vanilla with no alcohol?


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#1 ALTAF

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Posted 07 December 2005 - 02:14 AM

Hello,

Due to religious reasons, we cannot use pure vanilla extract in baked goods because it containes alcohol.

what is the best to use in this sitiuation: artificial vanilla extract or vanillin? and shall i use it in the same amount the recipe calls for?



Thanks in advance.

#2 Swisskaese

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Posted 07 December 2005 - 02:43 AM

The best thing to do is buy a few vanilla pods and put it in a container of sugar. Then you can use vanilla sugar for your baking. You only have to use a tablespoon or so of the vanilla sugar. Make sure that you split the vanilla pods before you put them in the sugar to ensure that you will have a strong vanilla flavour.

#3 artisanbaker

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Posted 07 December 2005 - 03:08 AM

nielson massey makes vanilla powder that would be good for you

#4 miladyinsanity

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Posted 07 December 2005 - 04:35 AM

I think it comes in paste form as well, but I'm not sure whether it contains alcohol as well.
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#5 Shalmanese

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Posted 07 December 2005 - 04:39 AM

Cooks Illustrated believe that it's almost impossible to tell natural vanilla from vanillan in baked goods anyway. Why not do a double blind on a batch of whatever your making and see if anybody can spot the difference? If not, you might save a bundle by switching to vanillian.
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#6 Sebastian

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Posted 07 December 2005 - 05:51 AM

There are a number of places that offer powdered, spray dried (or plated) vanilla powders, be it powdered vanilla extract or commercially available vanilla sugar. Vanillin is an option as someone mentioned, but you should also keep in mind your customer - if it's an unlabelled product, there is no issue as pure vanilla is 90some % vanillin anyway. However, and i'm only using this as an example, some of the folks over at seventypercent.com forums are convinced that vanillin in pure evil, and should in absolutely no circumstances be given any consideration. Now, I truely doubt that they're able to taste the difference between vanillin and vanilla at the levels they're being used, but it does indicate that at some level, there is a perception difference. Just something to keep in mind.

There are also vanilla oleoresins available, but they're pretty expensive (and very strong).

#7 jsolomon

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Posted 07 December 2005 - 06:54 AM

You could also store the vanilla pods in glycerin instead of sugar. That would give you a pourable liquid product.
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#8 Patrick S

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Posted 07 December 2005 - 07:12 AM

Vanilla beans or powder would taste best, but they are pricey. Artificial vanilla would work fine. Usually artificial extracts are substituted volume-for-volume with real vanilla extracts, but the truth is that the artificial extracts are often a bit stronger. FDA requires that real vanilla extracts be at least 35% alcohol, whereas artificial extracts don't have to have alcohol at all and usually contain less than 35%. Cook's actually tested for vanillan content and found that artifical extracts had 3,290 mg/l, compared to 2,110 mg/l in the natural extract.

As Shalmanese alluded to, Cook's Illustrated has done 3 blind tests of artificial versus natural vanilla, and found every time that they are indistinguishable. This was even true for the test they did with creme anglaise, where any flavor differences should really stand out.
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#9 Beanie

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Posted 07 December 2005 - 09:09 AM

Vanilla flavor; no alcohol.

Clickety here.

I agree with previous recommendations to use artificial vanilla extract. I have used powdered vanilla and organic vanilla extract and have never noticed a difference between these expensive items and artificial... at least not in the basic items that a I bake (cookies, brownies, pies, etc.) I made the switch after reading the results of Cook's Illustrated's tests, when the price of vanilla skyrocketed a few years ago.
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#10 andiesenji

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Posted 07 December 2005 - 10:21 AM

Alcohol and Gluten-free vanilla.

This is an excellent product.
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#11 theabroma

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Posted 07 December 2005 - 11:15 AM

Unless you treat yourself to a heavenly soujourn in Papantla, Veracruz, Mx where vanilla is indigenous, visit the Vanilla Gods: Nielsen-Massey. I would recommend either beans, powder, or the paste (check ingredients, it may contain sorbitol, but I don't believe it contains any alcohol.

Please, please give the artificial stuff a Viking burial in the back yard!


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#12 Patrick S

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Posted 07 December 2005 - 11:32 AM

Please, please give the artificial stuff a Viking burial in the back yard!

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Why would anyone want to do that?
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#13 theabroma

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Posted 07 December 2005 - 11:38 AM

To get rid of it, Cher. To exterminate it. Incinerate it. Wrap it in a napkin, insert a stick of dynamite in the bottleneck, and kaboom!

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#14 Patrick S

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Posted 07 December 2005 - 11:46 AM

To get rid of it, Cher.  To exterminate it.  Incinerate it.  Wrap it in a napkin, insert a stick of dynamite in the bottleneck, and kaboom!

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Oh, I see. Why should anyone want to get rid of their artificial vanilla?
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#15 theabroma

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Posted 07 December 2005 - 12:10 PM

To me ... and this may be a personal biochemical twist ... it tastes really, really bad. A DuPont reject on the road to discovering Velpar ..., etc.

I wish to be clear: that is how it tastes to me. Maybe not to others. So I avoid it like the plague. That's all. But humor me a bit here, it is a sense I am lacking ....
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Edited by theabroma, 07 December 2005 - 12:12 PM.

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#16 Patrick S

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Posted 07 December 2005 - 12:24 PM

To me ... and this may be a personal biochemical twist ... it tastes really, really bad. . .  that is how it tastes to me.  Maybe not to others.  .  .

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Fair enough. I think its just you. Your perceptions do seem paradoxical, though, because I dont think there are any flavor compounds in artificial extract that are not also in real vanilla extract.
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#17 Suzanne Podhaizer

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Posted 07 December 2005 - 01:06 PM

While it is true that artificial vanilla is made pretty much entirely of vanillin, which is the main chemical componant of real vanilla, the difference is mostly in what is absent...real vanilla contains between 250 and 300 chemical compounds which give it the complex flavor for which it is prized--artificial vanilla, with its one flavor compound, does taste different.

In college I took a course in the Sensory Evaluation of Foods. In that course, we learned to identify chocolate and ice cream that used vanillin vs. vanilla--however, we were also trained to notice the difference, whereas most consumers are not.

Also, some of the commercial vanillin making processes generate toxic waste (benzene among other things), while other more modern techniques are more environmentally friendly (they produce "more manageable" waste). Regardless of the way in which they are produced, most vanillin is made with industrial by-products, either of the wood pulp and paper industries or of the petrochemical industries.

Both aesthetics and ethics may be a consideration for some people when making a decision about which vanilla products to use.
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#18 Patrick S

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Posted 07 December 2005 - 01:13 PM

While it is true that artificial vanilla is made pretty much entirely of vanillin, which is the main chemical componant of real vanilla, the difference is mostly in what is absent...real vanilla contains between 250 and 300 chemical compounds which give it the complex flavor for which it is prized--artificial vanilla, with its one flavor compound, does taste different.

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Of course there are nonvanillan flavor compounds, but the important question is to what extent they contribute favorably to the flavor. They apparently add little or nothing to overall subjective impression. If they did, then natural extracts would be ranked higher than artificial vanillas in blind comparisons, whereas the in the 3 tests CI has described, tasters could not even tell the difference and did not in any test express an overall preference for natural vanilla.
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#19 Patrick S

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Posted 07 December 2005 - 01:45 PM

Here's another bit of data on the natural vanilla extract/artificial vanilla question, presented at the 2002 Institute of Food Technologists annual meeting. Parker and Penfield report results from an "(h)edonic evaluation of natural and artificial vanilla in ice creams," (a standard test where people are given samples and asked to rate) using 72 tasters and 4 ice creams. Their result was that "(f)or overall liking, there was no significant difference between the artificial and natural flavored ice creams." Their sample was much larger than the ones CI had for their tastings in panna cotta, creme anglaise, milk, and cake. Link

Edited by Patrick S, 07 December 2005 - 01:47 PM.

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#20 theabroma

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Posted 07 December 2005 - 02:49 PM

Fair enough. I think its just you. Your perceptions do seem paradoxical, though, because I dont think there are any flavor compounds in artificial extract that are not also in real vanilla extract.


But I do believe that there are compounds in a cured seedpod of V. planifolia which are not present in artificial vanilla. It's rather like the Hallellujah ... but without the Chorus, no?

The only mouth I can use as a guide is my own. And my point of reference when I'm in the vanilla mode is Mexican, from the area of Norther Veracruz, around Papantla. I am not thinking of Bourbon or Tahitian varieties.

This is interesting!!!


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#21 Patrick S

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Posted 07 December 2005 - 03:00 PM

Fair enough. I think its just you. Your perceptions do seem paradoxical, though, because I dont think there are any flavor compounds in artificial extract that are not also in real vanilla extract.


But I do believe that there are compounds in a cured seedpod of V. planifolia which are not present in artificial vanilla.

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Yes, and this raises an interesting question that, so far as I know, has not been answered: Why do good beans gives a flavor that is so much better than extract made from the same type of beans? I know from my own experiments that I can detect no difference between natural and artificial extracts, but that I can detect a difference between good beans and an extract. Either alcohol vanilla extraction does not capture all of the flavors that are in the bean, or the flavor compounds are somehow broken down once they are extracted.
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#22 cupcakequeen

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Posted 07 December 2005 - 03:02 PM

regardless of artificial vanilla tasting like real vanilla, it's the way it's made that bothers me. i was told in school, that alot of artificial vanilla is a byproduct of wood pulp used for making paper.

#23 Patrick S

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Posted 07 December 2005 - 03:12 PM

I think that's why most people are so sure that artificial vanilla can't be as good as natural vanilla -- because its all artificial-ly.
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#24 Shalmanese

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Posted 07 December 2005 - 03:20 PM

I don't know about you but I use maybe 100mL of vanillan a year. I doubt that this is going to significantly affect much of anything in a major way. Compared to the myriad other products that I am using daily which generate toxic byproducts in their production, vanillian constitutes a blip on the radar.

cupcakequeen Why exactly does that bother you? The chemical compounds are exactly the same in both. It's not like there are wood pulp atoms and vanilla bean atoms.

theabroma have you tried doing a pure double blind? Maybe a lot of the difference is psychological.
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#25 Patrick S

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Posted 07 December 2005 - 03:35 PM

I don't know about you but I use maybe 100mL of vanillan a year. I doubt that this is going to significantly affect much of anything in a major way. Compared to the myriad other products that I am using daily which generate toxic byproducts in their production, vanillian constitutes a blip on the radar.

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That's true, but I would go even further and say that its not at all clear that natural or synthetic vanilla have any advantage in terms of environmental impact. One or the other may have the edge, but I don't think you can just assume that it is the natural product. Consider the assertion that benzene is a byproduct of artificial vanillan production. Well, benzene is also generated by the combustion of fossil fuels, and you'll need to burn plenty of fossil fuels to transport those beans by boat or plane from Mexico and Tahiti and New Guinea to their destinations all over the world. And I don't necessarily think its a bad thing that vanillan is made from byproducts of other industrial processes, as opposed to starting from precursor ingredients that require more processing, and hence more energy.

Again, I'm not saying that one is superior to the other in terms of environmental impact, just that I don't know!

Edited by Patrick S, 07 December 2005 - 03:36 PM.

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#26 rooftop1000

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Posted 07 December 2005 - 03:46 PM

regardless of artificial vanilla tasting like real vanilla, it's the way it's made that bothers me.  i was told in school, that alot of artificial vanilla is a byproduct of wood pulp used for making paper.

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Alot of the aroma in good aged whiskeys is from the vanillan extracted from the wood barrels....just found that out last week :smile:


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#27 theabroma

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Posted 07 December 2005 - 04:47 PM

theabroma have you tried doing a pure double blind? Maybe a lot of the difference is psychological.


Yes, I have. And that's why I said it may be something biochemically with me. In fact, I think that is the biggest unknown of any taste test - we all agree that what we are tasting is what we have named 'vanilla', but the likelihood that we are all tasting the 'same' is not very likely. Whatever the chemical signature(s) is/are of the constellation of compounds we call 'vanilla flavor', I know that they appear 'naturally' in other plants. But whether that exact array of flavor compounds is also what is present in cured orchid seedpods and wood, and whatever else, I don't know.

For example, cilantro is native to Asia, not Mesoamerica, yet it is difficult to imagine Mexican food w/out that flavor. Same with oregano. Turns out that there were at least two plants, indigenous to Mesoamerica - culantro (Eringium foetidum and Lippia mexicana) which contain many of the principal flavor/aroma compounds, but not all, of their Asian and European counterparts.

But of course, whether we all taste the same thing, or would taste a difference between the Old/New World plants, and any artificial flavors mimicking them, is anyone's guess.

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#28 andiesenji

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Posted 07 December 2005 - 07:55 PM

I can certainly tell the difference between real vanilla and artificial vanilla in some foods, particularly in delicate custards.

The artificial stuff has a bitter tone to it that is not pleasant and one of the worst examples was when I was served a lovely peach dessert topped with whipped cream in which the person who made it had used artificial vanilla.

I would rather spend the extra amount and have a flavor on which I can depend.

Also, the imitation stuff can change over time, partidularly if exposed to prolonged heat. The chemicals can change to compounds that have really putrid flavors.

Here is a good explanation of the differences.
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#29 Wendy DeBord

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Posted 07 December 2005 - 08:53 PM

Theres how many manufactors of vanillan in this world? And is all vanillan exactly the same from one company to the next?

Lets face it, theres some crap vanillan out of the markets and theres also some crappy "fresh" vanilla beans too. You can't condemn all until you've tried many. I too have tasted some nasty vanillan, but I've also tasted some that I don't believe anyone could detect was vanillan and not real vanilla.

Now when you talk about vanilla beans, your totally right Patrick. It is a shame that no one can unlock the exact copy of a vanilla bean. Nelson Massey's vanilla bean paste comes the closest I've taste and smelled to a real bean. Have you tried that?

Also, you have to watch brands when you buy vanilla powder. They are not all the same from company to company either. Nelson Masseys version is an off white powder, with good flavor and smell. Albert Usters version looks like dried vanilla seeds and no other substances (but it has no real flavor inspite of it's looks).

#30 CaliPoutine

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Posted 07 December 2005 - 09:22 PM

"Vanilla beans or powder would taste best, but they are pricey"


I beg to differ on this. I just won an organic vanilla auction on ebay. I paid 8.96 for 30 beans( 1/4lb) I've won other auctions for even less. I make my own extract with the beans.