Many people who want to purchase vanilla extract are left with a burning question after looking through the market: which extract supplier is best?
While it's difficult to make that assessment, choosing good vanilla extract suppliers usually comes down to a few key factors, which this article will discuss in full.
Check it out now, or have a look at Vanilla Bean Kings' selection of pure vanilla extracts and grab a product today!
Vanilla Extract Versus Bean Suppliers: What's the Difference?
Vanilla products are now a vast section in stores:
- Vanilla extracts
- Vanilla beans
- Vanilla bean paste
- Vanilla sugar
- Vanilla powder, etc.
Shopping for vanilla beans is often easier since the supplier doesn't usually influence the product all that much. Beans are sourced directly from farms, packaged, and shipped anywhere in the world. This way, consumers can focus on a few key qualities, like country of origin or the reputation of the vanilla bean supplier, to find the right product.
The vanilla extract market is slightly more difficult to navigate, as the production process itself can have a huge effect on the quality of the product. Even if sourced from the right farm, the vanilla extract might not be up to par, so it falls on the consumer to choose their supplier wisely.
What to Look for in a Vanilla Extract Supplier
Here are five things to look for to choose the best vanilla extract for your needs:
1. Pure Vanilla
Most of the vanilla extract on the market is actually imitation vanilla. These products contain synthetic vanillin, which is made from a natural polymer found in wood and not sourced from vanilla orchids.
Though these products are more affordable, they taste different when compared to pure vanilla extract. The artificial extract is one note, meaning you'll sense that signature vanilla taste, although that's about the only thing you'll get. Pure vanilla extract has a lot more nuances in its flavor profile, with hints of chocolate and even fruit. The vanilla flavor is only part of its aroma.
For heat-treated items like baked goods, synthetic vanilla is usually perfectly fine. But if you need it for sauces, frozen desserts, or even drinks, the pure extract will provide much better results. Suppliers who sell real vanilla will add "Organic Vanilla Bean Extractives" to the bottle.
2. Bean Origin
If you're choosing real vanilla, then you'll also need to look at its country of origin to get the right flavors you need.
Most of the world's vanilla is sourced from Madagascar and has a signature rich and creamy aroma that makes it the perfect addition to drinks and desserts.
But there are other vanilla sources to consider:
- Mexican vanilla, which has a more subtle taste
- Tahitian vanilla, a highly fragranced bean
- Ugandan vanilla, which comes with a sweeter taste and hints of chocolate
Vanilla farmers in these countries provide the beans, but they don't necessarily have a say in how the products that hit the shelves are made. Still, knowing where your vanilla comes from can tell you a lot about its flavor profile.
3. Cultivation and Curing Practices
The quality of the vanilla bean and all products derived from it are also influenced by the cultivation process.
Growing vanilla is difficult. The orchid won't produce any beans for around three years, and after they finally bloom, farmers only have about a day to hand pollinate all the vanilla orchids. Considering that the flowers won't all bloom at the same time, the amount of labor needed to pollinate and harvest vanilla is significant.
But it's also what makes good vanilla, along with the curing practices, which also take around three months. Suppliers who don't rush these key processes often have the best vanilla beans and products on the market, so check out how they harvest and cure the beans to know if you're paying for a quality extract or not.
4. Bottle Color
Proper storage will influence the product's shelf life, and like many edible items, exposing vanilla extracts to light or extreme temperatures can spoil them.
You should look for extracts stored in darker bottles to avoid unpleasant surprises. Don't assume you can transfer the extract to another container by yourself; you can't know if the clear bottle was kept out of strong light.
Quality vanilla beans cost more, and so do the products derived from them. If you're usually shopping in specialty food stores, you know the selling price for some of these products can be steep.
Finding a supplier that sells in bulk may be a better option, especially if you need a consistent supply of vanilla products. You can find these suppliers online and vet their products prior to ordering. They also often provide discounts when you place larger orders, which can help you save money.
Another way to buy great vanilla at a more affordable price is to look for whole vanilla beans and handle the extraction process yourself. This way, you can control the result and ensure your extract is free from unnecessary additional ingredients.
Shopping for vanilla products is easy when you have the benefit of vetting suppliers online. Still, it can be difficult to go through the different options when there are so many different factors to consider.
Use the tips presented above to get the process started and find the right vanilla products for your needs.
Or check out Vanilla Bean Kings and place your orders today!