Vanilla is a wonderful ingredient which comes in several varieties, and I’m going to talk about five of them:
- artificial vanilla extract – cheap, contain sugars, caramel colouring/flavour, and synthetic vanillin which is a byproduct of the pulp industry – YUCK
- premium artificial vanilla extract – slightly better taste, but not as good as the pure stuff
- pure vanilla extract – pricier, better flavour, will contain vanilla bean extractives, water, and alcohol, but should not have added sugar
- vanilla bean paste – pricer, hard to remove from jar, potent; one TBSP of paste = one whole bean.
- whole vanilla beans – an expensive but worthwhile investment, easy to split and scrape, has an intoxicating aroma and intense flavour
Don’t be swayed by the the name of it, check the label. The best vanilla I have ever tasted is a Tahitian vanilla, that only contains vanilla bean extractives, alcohol 35%, water, and does not contain sugar. I have tasted bad flavours which contained added sugars, corn syrup, and caramel colouring.
If you’re looking for my personal review on vanilla, you can read it here in all its glory.