Vanilla sweets especially vanilla cakes and ice creams are the most favorite sweets among all ages from old to young one. There is hardly a person who doesn’t like vanilla flavor. It is the most liked flavor in the world. It produces up to 23000 tons per year.
But the question is where does vanilla flavoring come from? Vanilla is also used in baked goods and in candies. It is an understood thing that artificial vanilla or you may say as vanilla scents and original vanilla comes from vanilla pod plant.
Seed pod plant of vanilla provides a great, amusing fragrance, and the soft and sweet taste of vanilla to every confection. Gardeners understand it very well that growing and harvesting a vanilla pod is not an easy task. It takes a lot of time and is a lengthy process.
Each pod of the vanilla requires to be planted by hand and about 80% of vanilla pods are cultivated in Madagascar. Due to difficulty in the cultivation process, most people used vanilla essence or vanilla flavors to give a taste to their sweets.
Let’s have a look at some other ways where vanilla flavoring comes from.
Where Does Vanilla Flavoring Come From?
As we have discussed above, vanilla flavors come from vanilla pods but it is an expensive method and requires a lot of time therefore many other artificial ways have been discovered from where we can get vanilla extracts or scents.
These ways are non-plant. For vanilla scent or vanilla flavor a chemical named as Castoreum comes from anal glands of beavers. It is produced in the beaver’s castor sac that is present between the pelvis and base of the tail.
The US food and Drug Administration has approved Castoreum, a food additive. The animal gets this vanilla scent quality by diet of bark and leaves and uses this brown sticky substance to mark territory.
“Castoreum has been used in foods and perfumes for more than 80 years” found in a study in 2007. That means the world has known for many years the name of Castoreum.
But it is also said that this substance is expensive, and its collecting is quite a difficult task therefore, it is becoming rare and its use in food is decreasing day by day. You can say today in the modern era our food is free from the absence of any animal juice in vanilla extract.
Why Do We Use Vanilla Flavoring In Cakes And Icing?
Vanilla flavor is the main part of our confectionaries such as cookies, cakes, brownies or whatever we bake. It is the main ingredient of our baked food.
Why so? Chef John Demetrios, who is the famous and most renowned pastry chef in Stockholm, called Oaxen Krog, said that he likes to think of vanilla as a spice that enhances sweetness – the way salt brings out the best in savory ingredients.
Furthermore, vanilla gives an aroma to the creams and custard and also balances the smell of eggs and sugar. It gives a more rounded feel on the palette therefore people love to add vanilla flavor as a finishing product in chocolate sweets as well.
These days refined petrochemicals are used in the laboratory to create a synthetic form of vanilla. This form is responsible for giving a unique taste and smell to the products.
In this process two different chemicals combine to make vanillylmandelic acid, which produces vanillin along with a reaction with oxygen.
Synthetic vanilla is now producing 18,000 metric tons of products every year. Its taste is quite similar to the real product but this chemically made vanilla should be labeled as ‘imitation’ or ‘artificial’ vanilla.
It is necessary to mention it as vanilla flavoring or vanilla essence to avoid any mixing of it with real product.
Some Natural Ways Of Synthesizing Vanilla
You can synthesize vanilla by some other natural biological ways such as Through a specific type of fungus that looks like yeast. It can be used to make vanilla flavoring. It converts sugar into vanilla.
As the process involves a living organism that is why it is termed as natural vanilla. Always keep in mind that the products having real vanilla are easy to identify as they contain little black specs of vanilla pods such as present in certain ice creams.
Which Vanilla Is Better, Real Or Extracted?
When it comes to a comparison between real and extracted vanilla then surely nothing can compete with real vanilla. A homemade dessert with real vanilla gives a different aroma and tastes different.
Although in market a lot of vanilla essences have been introduced and everyone claims to be the best, but real is the best one. But it is reality that vanilla pods are expensive so you can try desserts with homemade vanilla to enjoy the taste of life.
Us Regulations For Vanilla Flavoring Use In Food
According to the US food and Drugs Administration, the solution must contain 35% alcohol and 100g vanilla beans per liter.(13.35 ounces per gallon). While double and triple vanilla extracts are also available, it is necessary to monitor the amount of liquid before their use in manufacturing food and before service purposes.
Natural vanilla flavoring contains no alcohol while some contains only 2–3% alcohol that can’t be called an extract.
According To Canadian Regulations
Under the Food and Drug Regulations vanilla extract products have to be processed from Vanilla planifolia or Vanilla tahitensis, Under the Food and Drug Regulations. Every 100 ml of extract contains an amount of soluble substances proportional to their natural state.
If the beans contain < 25% water content, the vanilla extract must have 10 g of vanilla beans and if the beans contain > 25% water content, the vanilla extract must be 7.5 g of vanilla beans. Vanilla extract should be free from added color.
We can get natural vanilla from vanilla pods while extracts are obtained in the laboratory by living organisms and some are homemade. But it is necessary to keep in mind the quantity of alcohol to make food safe and healthy for everyone.