Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

PastryBoy

Tonka Beans

Recommended Posts

Does anyone know a reputable online source where I can find (foodsafe) tonka beans? I would like to use it in a new dessert.

Any info would be helpful!


"Why not go out on a limb? Isn't that where all the fruit is?" -Frank Scully

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would love to find a source for Tonka Beans, but are they safe? I thought there was a problem with using them in food.

In this article, About Tonka Beans, it seems to indicate that you can't use it in food.

Is this accurate?


John DePaula
formerly of DePaula Confections
Hand-crafted artisanal chocolates & gourmet confections - …Because Pleasure Matters…
--------------------
When asked “What are the secrets of good cooking? Escoffier replied, “There are three: butter, butter and butter.”

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

hi pastryboy,

i ran it through a search engine and found that the following places sell them - but i understand that their use in food has been banned in the US since the 50s as it has been suspected to be poisonous and carcinogenic?

www.herbco.com

www.oldtimeherbs.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It is. They are toxic, but because of their vanilla-like flavor and lower cost, they are often used as a subsitute by disreputable or unregulated extract makers. Very nice in potpourri, though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
It is.  They are toxic, but because of their vanilla-like flavor and lower cost, they are often used as a subsitute by disreputable or unregulated extract makers.  Very nice in potpourri, though.

I was first introduced to them by a french chef who used to them from France. I too would like to know a source so if yall find one please IM me and let me know!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Theres been at least three chefs who have used them recently.

In the wd-50 thread here in the NY forum, people even talk about the dish.


2317/5000

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wanted to revive this topic because it seems a lot of chefs are using Tonka Beans these days (Sam Mason, Grant Achatz, etc), so there must be somewhere that one could buy them and use them safely in food. Any new thoughts on this???


"A woman once drove me to drink and I never had the decency to thank her" - W.C. Fields

Thanks, The Hopry

http://thehopry.com/

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Wanted to revive this topic because it seems a lot of chefs are using Tonka Beans these days (Sam Mason, Grant Achatz, etc), so there must be somewhere that one could buy them and use them safely in food.  Any new thoughts on this???

Tonka Beans are the primary source of coumarin - a toxic blood thinner used in rat poison. Some articles suggest that the amounts used in desserts are too little to be dangerous.

So perhaps is you just eat a small amount of rat poison, you'd be ok? As delicious as it is, I'll stick with something else thank-you-very-much!

Ref: FDA Article listing about Tonka/Coumarin


John DePaula
formerly of DePaula Confections
Hand-crafted artisanal chocolates & gourmet confections - …Because Pleasure Matters…
--------------------
When asked “What are the secrets of good cooking? Escoffier replied, “There are three: butter, butter and butter.”

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I know that they use tonka bean in dessert and chocolate making in Italy as well ,maybe european are not aware of the toxic effect or the FDA has different standards?


Vanessa

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It’s probably true that for a healthy individual very small quantities are ok, but why risk it?

You should also consider that many older people are on a prescription medication called Coumadin. It’s a blood thinner. Based on the spelling and the effect of the drug, it is likely related to Coumarin. So for a lot of folks, the combination / interaction may be a dangerous mix.

I love the flavor of tonka beans, which I tried while living in Europe and before knowing much about it. But there are lots of wonderful flavors out there. I can avoid this one.


John DePaula
formerly of DePaula Confections
Hand-crafted artisanal chocolates & gourmet confections - …Because Pleasure Matters…
--------------------
When asked “What are the secrets of good cooking? Escoffier replied, “There are three: butter, butter and butter.”

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was on a quest to find tonka beans and confirm that it was ok to use them, I was gently advised by Judy at Terra Spice not to use them and that the FDA was getting involved at restaurants that were using them. Not worth it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for your post, Tony. Yeah, you see chefs doing stuff like this and it just strikes me as being kind of irresponsible.


John DePaula
formerly of DePaula Confections
Hand-crafted artisanal chocolates & gourmet confections - …Because Pleasure Matters…
--------------------
When asked “What are the secrets of good cooking? Escoffier replied, “There are three: butter, butter and butter.”

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There's always a story behind the story.

When was the drug Warfarin (aka Coumadin) being developed and readied for commercial release? When did the FDA ban the use of tonka beans, because of the supposed toxic effects of the naturally occurring coumarin compound? Answer those questions and you'll see who really runs our government. Hint: the year 1954 is the answer to both questions.

Coumarin is present is such low levels that you'd have to ingest several tonka beans to have any sort of effect. Yes, it can be used as rat poison, but that's just because rats can't metabolizes it as well as we can. In humans coumarin is a low level toxin. All that foie gras and sweetbreads you're eating is probably doing more damage to your body than a little tonka bean now and then.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
(Nudging us back on topic)

For those who want to use Tonka Beans (in full consideration of the risks - perceived and proven), does anybody know of sources?

I've got some in my house. Bought them in Grenada if I'm not mistaken. I know that JP Wybauw brought some with him when he came to teach in Toronto.

I think you might be able to buy them in Canada.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You can buy them in Canada and on a couple of sites (Botanical.com, Mountainroseherbs.com) but Monterey Bay Spice Company has a lot of information on the site and knowledgeable reps. when you call. A friend brought me some from a spice shop in Ireland, I made a tonka bean panna cotta, very interesting flavor.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I never heard of them before, but they're mentioned on yesterday's Serious Eats (someone used them in place of cardamom in Dorrie Greenspan's dimply plum cake.) So I've been reading about them, and they sound absolutely incredible. But apparently they are illegal in the US!! They contain a substance call 'coumarin' which is toxic in large doses. But I have to have some! Anybody every use this stuff? Are you still alive to tell the tale? Is it possible to buy them in the States? (I looked them up on Penzey's website; they don't exist.) Or do I have to get my friends from Canada to smuggle them in? :rolleyes:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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? :wacko:

I really want to put them in mine and do (but then again, I eat cherry, peach and apricot pit ice creams so I guess we all draw our own lines) and I've ordered them here and here. Not recently though, I assume they're still available.


It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There's this from Wikipedia:

Tonka bean

The tonka bean is the seed of Dipteryx odorata, a legume tree in the neotropics, of the Fabaceae family. The seed is black and wrinkled in appearance, with a smooth brown interior. It is known mostly for its fragrance, which is reminiscent of vanilla, almonds, cinnamon, and cloves: it has sometimes been used commercially as a substitute for vanilla. It is also sometimes used in perfume and was commonly used in tobacco before being banned.

The seed contains coumarin, which can be lethal in large doses. For this reason its use in food is banned in the US by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Many anti-coagulant prescription drugs are based on more powerful forms of coumarin.

The plant has its origin in Northern South America (Guyana, Orinoco region). Main producers today are Venezuela and also Nigeria.

And this from Gernot Katzer's Spice Pages:

Coumarin is toxic and causes serious though reversible liver damage in high dosages or if applied regularly over some time; toxic doses range around one gram, but some individuals are more suceptible. In rodents, coumarin has proven a carcinogen, yet this result does probably not hold for humans. It should be noted that some condensed coumarin derivatives act as strong antagonists to vitamin K and thus prevent blood coagulation; these compounds are used as rodenticides and as medicinal anticoagulants. Simple coumarin does not show this effect (but some molds can metabolize it to vitamin K blockers, which is why moldy hay may cause fatal poisoning in cattle). See also cassia for coumarin limits in German food laws.

And this from www.latartinegourmande.com:

Tonka bean tastes like bitter almond and vanilla combined to a light touch of clove. Friends who have tried pastries I’ve prepared with this fragrant bean tell me so, and I have to agree with them. I typically use the bean to infuse milk or cream for crèmes brûlées or flans, and I prefer to grate it finely — a microplane grater works like a charm — into a cake batter. Either way, the flavor is strong, and cannot be missed.

---------

And you can buy them in the US here:

Good luck!

Eileen


Eileen Talanian

HowThe Cookie Crumbles.com

HomemadeGourmetMarshmallows.com

As for butter versus margarine, I trust cows more than chemists. ~Joan Gussow

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Isn't it the coumarin content of most Mexican vanilla extracts that makes them illegal in the US?

Theresa :biggrin:


"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power."

- Abraham Lincoln

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So just out of curiosity I ordered another 5 oz. from the alchemy-works site since my supply is low anyway and it went through fine. Already got the confimation email and everything. So I'm assuming they're still a reliable source at this point. Can't run out of coumarin cake to eat with my cyanide ice cream. :raz::biggrin:


It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
So just out of curiosity I ordered another 5 oz. from the alchemy-works site since my supply is low anyway and it went through fine. Already got the confimation email and everything. So I'm assuming they're still a reliable source at this point. Can't run out of coumarin cake to eat with my cyanide ice cream. :raz::biggrin:

I just ordered some as well. I'm too curious not to. But I have to admit I'm a little wary.

Thanks for all the info (and thanks for merging these threads -- I did a search for Tonka Beans before starting the new topic -- it didn't come up. Oh well.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...