What do you mean there is alcohol in my vanilla extract?

Jul 27, 22
What do you mean there is alcohol in my vanilla extract?

Yes, the most common alcohol used is vodka.  However, larger vanilla manufacturers use a basic alcohol, most similar to “moon shine” because it’s low cost, clear and almost undetectable flavor.  They’ll grind the vanilla beans, most often a grade C or Extract grade B again to reduce cost.  And although the FDA has set standards that must be followed to claim Pure Vanilla, the FDA does not require all ingredients to be listed.  They can add sugar, corn syrup, artificial color, flavors to enhance the vanilla smell, among others.  This is deceiving, but legal. 

We at Gourmet Vanilla ‘n’ Spice, take pride in what we bring to our customers.  Earlier it’s been told that we exclusively use Gourmet Grade A vanilla beans.  They do cost a little more, but there is a big difference between a plump vanilla bean with natural oils and plenty of caviar or a thin, dry bean. 

We’re also aware of the tests that have been conducted using several brands of the same alcohol, following the same method and time, to discover the difference if any, in the resulting vanilla extract.   These tests graded the alcohols from A+ to an F, with the lower grade producing an undesirable taste, usually a metallic or medicinal aftertaste, to the vanilla.  With the price of vanilla beans, why use a lower shelf alcohol to get a bad result?  We also use alcohols that are a minimum of 6x distilled, often aged.  You may enjoy an alcohol brand in your cocktails, but it doesn’t mean, when mixed with vanilla beans and steeped, that it results in a quality extract.  One of the most important factors that determines the quality of the outcome is how long you allow the vanilla extract to age. BE PATIENT.  While you "can" use it in as little as 8 weeks the flavor becomes vastly superior the longer it ages. For better results wait 6 months, for best results wait a year. We steep our vanilla extracts for 12 months minimum, and extracts made with Bourbon steeps for 18 months.

“All Bourbon is whiskey, but not all whisky is Bourbon”.  Whiskey comes from many countries, but Bourbon is American (only the finest whiskey, aged) Bourbon must be made in America, at 51% corn, kept in New charred oak barrels.  Must be distilled no more than 160 proof (in barrel at 125 proof), bottled no less than 80 proof and NO added flavoring, coloring, or additives.  Using Bourbon instead of whiskey ensures quality at the highest standards, regulated by the government.  Never short cuts, never additives, no sugars, only the utmost purity and highest quality in all the vanilla extracts by Gourmet Vanilla ‘n’ Spice, you get only the very best.

A great vanilla extract is only as good as the spirits used to make it.  The most common used is vodka, it’s pure, distilled 6x, clear, tasteless so the vanilla beans flavor comes through. 

Grey Goose is an A+ French Vodka (top shelf).  Compare to Svedka vodka is an A rated (top shelf also), Sweden (almost a Grey Goose), and Titos is an A rated (Texas, used with Mexican vanilla beans), then Smirnoff (flavored vodkas) Regular (no flavor) is an A rated.  However, all flavored is a D+, makes vanilla extract that tastes metallic, unnatural.  (The only exception for a flavored spirit is Coconut Rum for coconut extract only, and Spiced Rum or Caramel Kissed Rum).

Kirk & Sweeney 23-year Rum (top shelf, A+) is pure, clean, rich, sweet, hints of caramelized sugar, honey & vanilla.  Stored in Sherry casks.  Use vanilla extract with Kirk & Sweeney Rum in Flan, creams, cream pies.  Kirk & Sweeney averages $60 for about a pint size bottle.

Captain Morgan white/silver Rum is A-, a sweet rum is sweeter, a little less strong, more subtle for a creamy smooth extract. 

Bacardi Superior white Rum is B, and Captain Morgan Spiced Rum is B rated, Bacardi Gold is B rated, Captain Morgan Dark Rum is a C+ rated, and Blue Chair Bay Coconut Rum is a B- rated (for coconut extract only).

Woodford Reserve Straight Bourbon whiskey is A+,

A Buffalo Trace Bourbon (with Sumatra Indonesian), a Maker’s Mark Bourbon is A, Four Roses Bourbon is C, and Old Crow is F (not good for vanilla extract).  So, enjoy your choice in alcohols for socializing.  But when it comes to making vanilla extract, we choose the best to pair with our top-quality vanilla beans.

Why use Oak?  Spirits are stored in Oak barrels, a flavor enhancer, aromas of vanilla, clove, smoke, dried fruit, coconut.    Tastes smoother, less astringent.  Oak removes any remaining medicinal taste.  Gourmet Vanilla ‘n’ Spice uses Hungarian Medium Toast Oak, a super unique, high demand from wineries.  Rich caramelized, mocha aroma taste.  French medium toast, is sweeter, hints of grapes and dried fruit.  American medium toast is soft oak flavor without changing the taste.  American heavy toast, used after medium oak, for one month only for a subtle rich flavor. 

Summarizing, we choose the Gourmet, Premium Grade A vanilla beans.  Nice and plump, full of caviar, rich with oils.  We split the beans to expose the full flavor, nothing held back.  We pair with top shelf (not necessarily the most expensive, but most complimenting) spirits.  We add oak at the right time, the right type, during our year long steeping process.  What we’ve put into our vanilla extracts with the best ingredients, the patience of time, the dedication of shaking jars, all brings our best to our customers.  No corners cut, nothing held back, nothing rushed.  So, if you’re seriously looking for a secret ingredient to your famous recipes, consider Gourmet Vanilla ‘n’ Spice.  GourmetVanillaSpice.com

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