We’re sure that you’re aware that vanilla isn’t the cheapest spice around, and it can sometimes set you back more than you bargained for, but the price is certainly worth it. As a company, we really want this section of our website (our blog) to highlight some things about vanilla that you may not know, including the history behind it, how it is produced, why we are an organic/fairtrade company, and much more.
Did you know that “more than 90 percent of the world's vanilla extract is synthetic or highly diluted with sugar, red dyes, and other chemicals?” (Murphy-Larronde, 2005, p. 43). There are so many products on the market that aren’t vanilla in its true and purest form.
"There's one easy way to know if an extract is natural or synthetic," observes Pastor Gutierrez Rivera, "and that's by the price." (Murphy-Larronde, 2005, p. 43). We know that pure vanilla isn’t always the cheapest, but this is due to its rich history and high quality.
In addition, 97% of all the vanilla used in products is synthetic. ‘Imitation’ vanilla is manufactured either from clove oil (eugenol) or as a breakdown product of lignin from a conifer (e.g. spruce, or picea).
This is in contrast to pure vanilla, which, chemically, has over 200 elemental chemicals that give it its taste and smell. It is impossible to mimic this exactly.
The main compound that gives pure vanilla its taste is called vanillin. Vanillin is an organic compound, and is the primary component of the extract of the vanilla bean.
Madagascan vanilla has 3 times as much vanillin concentration (and, therefore, a stronger taste) compared to its nearest competition the Mexican Bourbon variety, which is why it has such a good reputation.