Vanilla is a flavor that is enjoyed by many, in both sweet and savory dishes. But what exactly is vanilla, and what’s the difference between vanilla and vanilla extract? Vanilla extract is made by extracting the flavor from vanilla beans using alcohol. This article will explore the different varieties of vanilla, as well as how to make your own vanilla extract at home.
What is Vanilla?
Vanilla is a flavoring derived from the fruit of an orchid in the genus Vanilla. The name “vanilla” comes from the Spanish word “vainilla”, meaning small pod. Vanilla is the second most expensive spice in the world, after saffron, due to the lengthy and labor-intensive process required to cultivate the vanilla bean.
The vanilla plant is a climbing vine that can reach up to 30 feet in length, and it produces small, greenish-yellow flowers. The flowers must be hand-pollinated, and each flower only produces one bean. Once the vanilla bean has been harvested, it must be cured by a process of sun drying and sweating.
After several weeks of curing, the beans are sorted and graded according to color and quality. The best beans are then sent to the market, where they are used to flavor a wide variety of food and beverage items. Vanilla is also used in perfumery and aromatherapy.
What is Vanilla Extract?
Vanilla extract is a flavoring made from vanilla beans that have been soaked in alcohol. The beans are then scraped or cut open to release their flavor, which is then blended with the alcohol. Vanilla extract is used to flavor many desserts, including cakes, cookies, and ice cream. It can also be added to coffee or tea. Vanilla extract is available in different strengths, depending on the amount of vanilla bean used to make it. The extract can also be made without alcohol, but this type may not have as strong a flavor. The vanilla extract should be stored in a cool, dark place and used within six months of opening for the best flavor.
Difference between Vanilla and Vanilla Extract
Vanilla is a flavoring made from the seeds of Vanilla planifolia, a species of orchid.
- Vanilla extract is a solution containing the flavor compound vanillin as well as other aromatic compounds found in vanilla beans.
- Vanilla extract is usually made by soaking vanilla beans in alcohol and water.
- The main difference between vanilla and vanilla extract is that vanilla is the pod of the Vanilla plant while the vanilla extract is a solution containing vanillin which is obtained from soaking vanilla beans in alcohol and water.
- Vanilla is used in many desserts like cakes, cookies, ice cream, etc while Vanilla extract is used in savory dishes as well.
Vanilla is also used in perfumes and cosmetics. Vanilla has a sweet, aromatic flavor while Vanilla extract has a strong, pure flavor. Vanilla is also used as an essential oil.
So what’s the difference? The simple answer is that vanilla extract contains alcohol, while vanilla essence does not. This is because the flavor of vanilla beans is extracted into an alcohol and water mixture. If you are looking for a vegan or dairy-free option, go for vanilla essence – just be aware that it will have a weaker flavor than extract.