Prep Method: Bake
Updated December 6th, 2022
Vanilla is the fruit of an orchid plant; each hand-pollinated flower becomes a long slender pod or bean which is picked while still green. It undergoes a curing and drying process during which aroma and flavor are developed.
Pure Vanilla Extract, a delicate, subtle flavoring, is a complex mixture of natural ingredients, many of which are unknown. Pure vanilla has a pleasant "bouquet" and a full, well-rounded flavor that is not present in an imitation vanilla extract.
Imitation vanilla extract is a mixture of color and synthetic flavors, mainly vanillin.
For the protection of consumers, Federal standards have now been issued to define the name Vanilla Extract and provide that no imitation flavors may be used in making pure Vanilla Extract.
Use Vanilla to flavor most sweet foods such as eggnog, milk shakes, hot chocolate and other milk beverages; ice cream; rice, bread and other puddings; cakes; cookies; dessert or fruit sauces; custards; stewed fruits, fruit compotes; candies; glazes; frostings; whipped cream; pies; coffee; tortes; meringue shells; cheesecake; dessert soufflés; sundae toppings; cream puff and pastry fillings; muffins; coffee cakes and cream cheese filling for fruit bread.
Suggested amounts to use in various dishes:
1 to 2 teaspoons in 2 layer cake recipe
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon in 1 cup heavy cream, whipped
1 to 1-1/2 teaspoons in 2 cups of custard sauce
1 to 1-1/2 teaspoons in frostings for a 2 layer cake
2 to 3 teaspoons in a cookie recipe making about 5 dozen cookies
1/2 to 1 teaspoon in a candy recipe using 2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons in about 4 cups custard for making ice cream
Vanilla is native to Central America and Mexico. Mexico monopolized the profitable Vanilla trade for three centuries. It is now produced mainly in the Malagasy Republic (Madagascar) and neighboring islands of Reunion and Comoros. Lesser amounts come from Java, Tahiti, and Mexico.
Long before Columbus discovered America, the Aztecs enjoyed a drink call "Xoco-Latl" made from cocoa and vanilla beans. This was discovered by Cortez, and Vanilla was taken back to Spain from where its use soon spread to other parts of Europe.
Usually found in the Essence, Extracts, Flavorings & Colouring Aisle.