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Striking differences between vanilla and vanillin

The food industry and home cooks both make use of natural and not so natural aromas in cakes, biscuits, cookies and desserts. One of the most widely used is vanilla and often in the form of “vanilla sugar”. Some vanillin sugars are sold in small packets sold in convenient packs of ten. But be aware that vanillin sugar is not the same as “vanilla sugar”. The tiny difference in the name stands for a significant difference in price and quality.

Vanillin can be produced synthetically
or naturally

Vanillin sugar is a mix of sugar and vanillin aroma. Vanillin is the main component in the vanilla flavour derived from vanilla pods, but natural vanilla also contains a wide spectrum of other aromas. Vanillin can be synthesized from certain chemicals or produced from natural sources. The “natural” sources need not be a foodstuff and it need not be a vanilla pod. Extracting pure vanillin from vanilla pods would be very expensive. One way of making it from natural sources is through the action of microorganisms on shredded sugar beet. This substance can be sold as “natural vanillin aroma ” but not as “natural vanilla aroma”, because the latter must be derived from actual vanilla pods.

What about vanilla sugar?

Vanilla sugar contains ground up vanilla pods, the fruit of the vanilla plant. The ground up vanilla shows up as tiny black granules in the finished foodstuff, eg, vanilla icecream. The flavour of vanilla sugar need not come entirely from ground vanilla pod, the manufacturer might have added vanilla extract too ¬– check the list of ingredients. Vanilla sugar can also be made entirely with vanilla extract, but you are not likely to find this type of product very often on the supermarket shelves.

It pays to look closely at the list of ingredients

If you want to know exactly what you’re buying, check out the list of ingredients, not only for vanilla sugar, but also for puddings and bakery products flavoured with vanilla. Here are explanations for some of the terms you may read:

  • “Aroma” probably means it was synthesized from chemicals – if it came from a natural source, the manufacturer would probably prefer to draw attention to that.

  • “Natural aroma” means it was produced from a natural source, but not from a vanilla pod, because if that was the case, the manufacturer would want to print “natural vanilla aroma” or “natural vanilla aroma with other natural aromas”.

  • “Natural vanilla aroma” means that at least 95 percent comes from vanilla pods.

  • “Vanilla” actually designates a spice, not an aroma. Ground vanilla is used in baking and desserts. If you want to be sure, check the list of ingredients. You may find that although the packaging boasts of  “real vanilla”, the product actually contains other aromas that also enhance the taste.

Did you know that in products claiming to be made with “Bourbon vanilla” must be made with real vanilla pods harvested in the “Vanilla islands”, which include Madagascar, the Comoros, Réunion, the Seychelles and Mauritius.

Source: www.lebensmittelklarheit.de