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Vanilla sticker shock


pastrygirl
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Today I paid $81.62 for a quart of Nielsen-Massey vanilla extract.  It was even more expensive than the 3kg bag of Valrhona Dulcey on my order! 

 

In early June, the same item from the same purveyor was $56.74.  I know price spikes happen every few years with vanilla products but ouch!  O.o:(

 

Just felt like sharing in case anyone wanted to commiserate.  

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Count me in. I know I paid much less than that from one of my go-to places, My Spice Sage, earlier this year. It's currently $84 there. Where did you buy yours?

 

Vanilla beans have gotten much more expensive, too, from what I can recall of my previous purchases.

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"There is no sincerer love than the love of food."  -George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, Act 1

 

Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and the accompanying readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

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28 minutes ago, Alex said:

Count me in. I know I paid much less than that from one of my go-to places, My Spice Sage, earlier this year. It's currently $84 there. Where did you buy yours?

 

Merlino Foods in Seattle.  They are generally super nice and fair so I'm sure it's market price.  I'll have to stop dumping so much of it into my vanilla cupcakes ... or maybe everyone is getting lemon or gingerbread cupcakes this fall instead! 

 

If or when the price goes down, we must remember to stock up  :ph34r:

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I was at a vanilla farm just last week in far north Queensland (Australia) and they said a few things:

A disease has wiped out a lot of production in one of the main countries, I forget which, sorry!

Weather conditions (in Australia at any rate) have not been conducive to a good crop ( no clear wet and dry season the last year)

Indian markets are buying up large quantities of vanilla at the moment, with a view possibly to controlling the market in the future (expect higher prices)

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11 hours ago, JoNorvelleWalker said:

A few years ago I purchased a half pound of beans at a good price.  Carefully bagged them up in my chamber vacuum sealer, a few beans to the package.  Hoping to make vanilla extract.  Hoping they're still good.

 

Depending on what you paid, you could make a tidy profit from that purchase. I found it interesting that Beanilla no longer lists the great variety of vanilla beans they did only a short time ago--no Mexican, no Tahitian, no Indian--but now there is Indonesian and Ugandan, neither of which I remember seeing.

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The subtleties of vanilla bean quality, grade AA, A, B or Madagascar vs anywhere else pretty much escape me. That said, I have been buying Madagascar beans on eBay for several years from an operation called Vanilla Products USA. I just checked and yes, their prices are up by a considerable amount. However there are dozens and dozens of options on eBay, and if you can wade through them it seems possible to get quantity and quality and source you like, jarred or vacuum packed, at a price you can live with. Worth checking out.

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5 hours ago, Katie Meadow said:

The subtleties of vanilla bean quality, grade AA, A, B or Madagascar vs anywhere else pretty much escape me. That said, I have been buying Madagascar beans on eBay for several years from an operation called Vanilla Products USA. I just checked and yes, their prices are up by a considerable amount. However there are dozens and dozens of options on eBay, and if you can wade through them it seems possible to get quantity and quality and source you like, jarred or vacuum packed, at a price you can live with. Worth checking out.

 

A week and a half ago I bought a package of five Grade A 5"-6" beans from them, via Amazon, for $22.95; today it's a dollar more. The quality seems fine. I'll be using one of them this weekend and will report on anything out of the ordinary.

"There is no sincerer love than the love of food."  -George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, Act 1

 

Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and the accompanying readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

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19 hours ago, JoNorvelleWalker said:

A few years ago I purchased a half pound of beans at a good price.  Carefully bagged them up in my chamber vacuum sealer, a few beans to the package.  Hoping to make vanilla extract.  Hoping they're still good.

 

 

They should still be good.  A half pound is about a year's supply of vanilla beans for me.  I've had some get dry and brittle towards the end of the bag, but still smelled/tasted good. 

 

 

 

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On 9/19/2017 at 12:24 AM, keychris said:

I was at a vanilla farm just last week in far north Queensland (Australia) and they said a few things:

A disease has wiped out a lot of production in one of the main countries, I forget which, sorry!

Weather conditions (in Australia at any rate) have not been conducive to a good crop ( no clear wet and dry season the last year)

Indian markets are buying up large quantities of vanilla at the moment, with a view possibly to controlling the market in the future (expect higher prices)

 

I think one of the big factors in play right now is decreased production in Madagascar - cyclone Enawo in March put a big hit on their output this year.

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Several years ago, when we were exploring a move to México, my husband and I were fantasizing about growing vanilla as a cash crop. When we found out what a major pain-in-the-you-know-what the process involved we concluded that there were better ways to use our time. The flowers (they're orchids) need to be pollinated by hand, the flowers only last one day, and when the beans are harvested they have to be spread out to dry on the ground but also moved under cover at night so the overnight moisture doesn't undo the drying process of the day before. As wages in vanilla-growing countries rise it's understandable that the price of the finished product will rise as well. That, and the vagaries of climate, seem to have contributed to the higher cost. It doesn't help with sticker shock, however.

 

I have heard, however, that artificial vanilla is a better product to use when baking because the volatile oils of the real vanilla evaporate (or boil off, or whatever) during the high heat of the oven. Does anyone have experience with artificial vanilla? I'm speaking of vanilla extract, of course.

 

Nancy in Pátzcuaro

 

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Formerly "Nancy in CO"

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There's a thread about the wonders of fake, I mean artificial, vanilla. Gold Medal seems to have won hands-down. I use it now in baked goods. I'm going to buy some more now, because the rise in price of real vanilla will probably trickle down to a rise in price in the artificial stuff as well. 

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3 minutes ago, Nancy in Pátzcuaro said:

Several years ago, when we were exploring a move to México, my husband and I were fantasizing about growing vanilla as a cash crop. When we found out what a major pain-in-the-you-know-what the process involved we concluded that there were better ways to use our time. The flowers (they're orchids) need to be pollinated by hand, the flowers only last one day, and when the beans are harvested they have to be spread out to dry on the ground but also moved under cover at night so the overnight moisture doesn't undo the drying process of the day before. As wages in vanilla-growing countries rise it's understandable that the price of the finished product will rise as well. That, and the vagaries of climate, seem to have contributed to the higher cost. It doesn't help with sticker shock, however.

 

I have heard, however, that artificial vanilla is a better product to use when baking because the volatile oils of the real vanilla evaporate (or boil off, or whatever) during the high heat of the oven. Does anyone have experience with artificial vanilla? I'm speaking of vanilla extract, of course.

 

Nancy in Pátzcuaro

 

 

I had no idea vanilla bean cultivation was so labor-intensive!  I thought it was only the bad storms - especially in Madagascar - affecting production, but your comment about rising wages makes sense.

 

If you haven't already, you may be interested in this topic, to which cakewalk just referred: Imitation vs Natural Vanilla Extract.

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Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
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"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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3 hours ago, Nancy in Pátzcuaro said:

Several years ago, when we were exploring a move to México, my husband and I were fantasizing about growing vanilla as a cash crop. When we found out what a major pain-in-the-you-know-what the process involved we concluded that there were better ways to use our time. The flowers (they're orchids) need to be pollinated by hand, the flowers only last one day, and when the beans are harvested they have to be spread out to dry on the ground but also moved under cover at night so the overnight moisture doesn't undo the drying process of the day before. As wages in vanilla-growing countries rise it's understandable that the price of the finished product will rise as well. That, and the vagaries of climate, seem to have contributed to the higher cost. It doesn't help with sticker shock, however.

 

I have heard, however, that artificial vanilla is a better product to use when baking because the volatile oils of the real vanilla evaporate (or boil off, or whatever) during the high heat of the oven. Does anyone have experience with artificial vanilla? I'm speaking of vanilla extract, of course.

 

Nancy in Pátzcuaro

 

 

I thought in Mexico, at least in some parts of Mexico, vanilla could be naturally pollinated?

 

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I've had good experiences with Sapna Foods in Atlanta; I use the double fold extract and the vanilla paste and the quality is fine.  The vanilla paste is especially good - no added sugar or anything.  It's so dense that we normally stretch it by adding extract and it lasts use many  months.  This past spring, when we needed more vanilla, I nearly fainted when he quoted me close to  $300 for a gallon of extract.

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I use Sauer's Gold Medal imitation vanilla for baking :

 

https://www.cfsauer.com/product/gold-medal-vanilla-imitation-03900/

 

here is a pic :

 

Vanilla.thumb.jpg.4609d897455d7bf388defea5e9fb5251.jpg

 

they used to have two imitation vanilla's

 

the web site has changed a bit since my last order.   this is the one to get

 

it was recommended many years ago by Ammerica's test Kitchen

 

back when they and new things to say.

 

Im not a credentialed Baker

 

Just a credentialed Eater.

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5 hours ago, rotuts said:

they used to have two imitation vanilla's

Do you know what the difference was between the two imitations? I have the one you pictured above. I just bought two more, but the photo on their web page just shows the outline of a bottle shape, there's no actual product with a label, and I'm wondering which one they're selling. Last time I bought it, I don't remember whether or not there was a photo of the actual bottle or just the same outline of a bottle shape. Your mention of two imitation vanillas made me wonder. Well, I guess I'll soon find out.

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I just recalled that a friend asked if we could find imitation vanilla here in México because his wife makes a certain cake that just doesn't taste "right" with real vanilla. She couldn't find it in her local grocery store--though it's available in many forms online--so we found a bottle and sent it to her (via a friend going north who could mail it in the US). I think I'll buy a small bottle and test that theory myself. I still have a supply of the real stuff, but this thread has me worried about the price when I have to buy a new bottle. This way I could stretch my supply. Plus I'm not a serious baker.

 

Nancy in Pátzcuaro

 

 

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Formerly "Nancy in CO"

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I just paid $83 for 50 Grade A Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla beans on eBay.  I remember paying $20-$30 for 1/2 lb. of the same quality a couple years ago.  But pricing it out, I'm only paying $1.66 per bean, which compared at $10/bean at the store, so I'll take it.  I guess when it's something you need/want for your operation, you'll bite the bullet and pay for it...

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