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Author Topic: How is artificial vanilla made? And why do chefs sneer and only recommend  (Read 1389 times)

Offline P-Kasso2

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...only recommend using natural vanilla extract?  My mum never sneered - she always just shook three drops of vanilla from a little bottle...and I am sure she never even knew that vanilla comes from long dangly black pods that grow on trees.

She'd have been absolutely mystified by all these cheffy telly celebs today wagging their fingers and rhapsodising "Carefully scrape the seeds and flesh out of the pod and into the pot...then use the husks in your sugar jar to make vanilla sugar".

My mother's reply would have been "Husks? What flipping husks?"  But her cakes and pies were always absolutely to die for.

So, on behalf of my dear old mum...

Why is artificial vanilla regarded as so bliddy inferior? And how is artificial vanilla actually made?
« Last Edit: 09 January, 2018, 03:35:46 PM by P-Kasso2 »
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Offline P-Kasso2

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I first asked this Q back on Boxing Day 2017 (!), since when it has flummoxed IAers to such an extent you've all been rendered speechless!  No answers at at all since 2017 so I thought "Bugger it. I'll see if I can find out myself".

And what I found out is very surprising (and more than a bit disgusting)...

This synthetic vanilla can come from ... wood pulp waste (though that's recently fallen out of favour) or coal tar, cow poop, secretions from a beaver's castor glands (located conveniently near its anus), clove oil, pine bark, or fermented bran.

Cow poop!?!  Secretions from a beaver's castor glands located conveniently near its anus!?!  Can this be true?  Are we actually eating this stuff?

Yep. We are.  That's what the respectable website called MyRecipes says at https://www.myrecipes.com/extracrispy/heres-whats-in-imitation-vanilla

It makes me wish I hadn't asked my original question!  But maybe it ain't all that bad, folks!  Because all these grotty ingredients in fake vanilla are all approved by the FDA (that's America's Food and Drug Administration) which is an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that oversees the manufacturing and distribution of food, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, tobacco and other consumer products and veterinary medicine.  So that's OK then, unless you wisely don't rate the FDA very highly.

Anyway, back on track...now for the second part of ny original question:  Why do chefs sneer at artificial vanilla?

Well, the same MyRecipes website implies (heavily) that these chefs are being unnecessarily hoity toity about artificial vanilla. MyRecipes says...

"In 2009, Cook's Illustrated conducted an intensive taste test to see if subjects could tell the difference between pure vanilla extract and imitation vanilla.
The results varied, depending on how the vanilla was deployed—in a cake, pudding, cold dessert, or solo—but the upshot was that while pure vanilla extract is ideal, there's not a huge drop-off in quality if you opt for a well-made imitation.

So there you have it.  Forget what all these poncey telly chefs say.  Artificial vanilla is fine, that is if you don't mind a gobful of coal tar, cow poop, secretions from a beaver's bum glands, pine bark, or fermented bran.

Enjoy.




« Last Edit: 06 May, 2020, 03:25:14 PM by P-Kasso2 »
"I live in hope"