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Wait, Is Vanilla Extract Alcohol? A Simple Guide to Alcohol Content

Wait, is vanilla extract alcohol? A simple guide to alcohol content.

Yes! All flavored liquors are alcoholic liquids, but only some are aged in barrels. There are many types of liquor that do not meet the standards for aging because they’ve been mixed with spirits and then bottled with added dry ice to preserve their freshness, including rum and vodka. That being said, even if a product is labeled as “vanilla extract” it doesn’t automatically mean it is vanilla flavored alcohol.

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Yes, all flavored liquors are alcoholic liquids, but only some are aged in barrels. There are many types of liquor that do not meet the standards for aging because they’ve been mixed with spirits and then bottled with added dry ice to preserve their freshness, including rum and vodka. That being said, even if a product is labeled as “vanilla extract” it doesn’t automatically mean it is vanilla flavored alcohol.

So, if the infusion of vanilla flavor is made with pure spirits and not aged in wood, what happens to the alcohol content of vanilla extract? According to David Hoffman’s book The Ultimate Vanilla Lover’s Cookbook , there are two types of vanilla extract: imitation and real.

Imitation vanilla extract is a mixture of “alcohol (usually ethyl alcohol), water, propylene glycol, vanillin and other synthetic ingredients such as corn syrup.” This type is labeled as a food product and has no aging or distilling process. It only contains 15% alcohol by volume or 30 proof.

Real vanilla extract, on the other hand, is made with pure alcohol – up to 85% – and aged in oak barrels. This type of extract is a higher proof liquor at 42% by volume or 180 proof. I like real vanilla extract because it’s rich in vanillin, the flavor compound that contributes to the characteristic odor and flavor of vanilla.

Therefore, it has the strongest flavoring in real extracts, which allows them to be used for smaller concentrations than imitation vanilla extracts. Imitation vanilla extracts have a more neutral flavor and therefore tend to be more versatile for recipes that call for different flavors at different strengths.

Famous for its price point, imitation vanilla extract is prevalent in the food industry. It’s used to flavor many desserts and confectionary items, including ice cream, cookies and other baked goods, candies, yogurt and popsicles. Imitation vanilla extract is the most economical type of vanilla extract because it only has to contain one ingredient. This makes it inexpensive to produce and is less taxing on the body’s system than alcohol-based extracts that are aged in barrels.

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Vanilla bean pods can be used to make homemade extracts at home as well. Just open a pod (or two or three) and place them in 1-cup glass jars or other wide mouth containers. After allowing the pods to dry, you can use them two ways: 1) Add them to a blender and blend the extract into the suspended liquid or add them directly to your favorite recipes. 2) If you want to store them longer than one month, transfer the vanilla beans into smaller jars with tight lids.

Vanilla bean pods can be used to make homemade extracts at home as well. Just open a pod (or two or three) and place them in 1-cup glass jars or other wide mouth containers. After allowing the pods to dry, you can use them two ways: 1) Add them to a blender and blend the extract into the suspended liquid or add them directly to your favorite recipes. 2) If you want to store them longer than one month, transfer the vanilla beans into smaller jars with tight lids.

Vanilla extract isn’t just for use in baked goods and desserts. Even though it only has one flavor – the distinct scent and flavor of vanilla – it can be applied to many different culinary creations. This includes marinades, rubs, dressings, sauces, syrups and gravies.

In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if vanilla extract became more popular than bourbon in a few years. Bourbon is such a common ingredient in the food industry that its name or label should be familiar to your average consumer.

Here’s what you need to know about vanilla extract alcohol content.

Vanilla extract is a must-have ingredient in cookies, biscotti, cake and so many more baked goods. While extract is a more convenient and affordable way to add flavor to recipes than a vanilla bean, the question of if vanilla extract contains alcohol might make some home bakers pause.

Is There Alcohol in Vanilla Extract

By definition, yes there is alcohol in vanilla extract. According to the FDA, vanilla extract is a mixture of vanilla scent and flavor characteristics, and alcohol. To be exact, the FDA requires an ethyl alcohol content of at least 35% for a product to be considered vanilla extract.

Before you worry about getting a buzz from your baked goods, nearly all of the alcohol from extracts evaporates in the cooking process. So, your next batch of chocolate chip cookies is definitely safe to take to a school bake sale.

Is There Non-Alcoholic Vanilla Extract

Yes, you can find vanilla extracts that contain less or no alcohol, though they won’t be called “extracts” since they don’t meet the FDA’s standards. These products are commonly referred to as vanilla flavoring, instead.

If you’re shopping for vanilla flavorings, be sure to read the labels carefully. While some of these products are just alcohol-free versions of vanilla extract (typically using glycerin instead of alcohol) it could also indicate that there less natural and/or artificial vanilla flavor and scent than the FDA’s requirements.

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What About Bourbon Vanilla

If you get into niche types of vanilla, you may see bottles of extract labeled as Madagascar Bourbon vanilla extract. We get it: Bourbon and vanilla sounds like a pretty good combination. But let us stop you right there: There is no bourbon in Madagascar Bourbon vanilla. (Shocking, right!)

This type of vanilla has the name Bourbon attached to it because, according to Nielsen-Massey, Madagascar (where the vanilla is grown) used to be referred to as one of the Bourbon Islands.

So you won’t get any bourbon notes in this type of vanilla, but you will get a strong, rich vanilla flavor.

Can you cook off the alcohol in vanilla extract?

Since alcohol is a very volatile compound, once the alcohol content starts to evaporate, it does so quickly, which makes it an ideal ingredient for cooking. Therefore, you can add vanilla extract to your recipes when the alcohol has evaporated from the mix. This way, you’ll still get a vanilla flavor without all the nasty chemicals that come with alcohol.

That being said, the alcohol in vanilla extract actually helps the beans age and ferment into a stronger, richer flavor. If you’re making your own vanilla extract at home, then you probably want to leave it alone until it’s ready to be used.

If you’re looking for a way to use some leftover vanilla extract that has more alcohol content than your recipe calls for, then adding it to your sugar container is a great way to use up extra alcohol without wasting it. Just take the vanilla directly out of the bottle, add an equal amount of sugar, and shake vigorously until all of the sugar is coated with vanilla extract.

Does alcohol in vanilla bake out?

When you bake vanilla extract, you’re cooking it at a high temperature, which makes most of the alcohol evaporate. This means that the alcohol doesn’t soak into anything when you bake and will simply evaporate into the air. You don’t have to worry about any alcohol soaking into your foods or potentially altering their flavors; the only thing that should be in your dish is delicious vanilla flavor.

That being said, there are ways to use vanilla extract in recipes without adding alcohol to it. For example, you can add a tablespoon or two of whiskey or brandy to your vanilla extract if you want to give it a more robust flavor.

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How do you get the alcohol taste out of vanilla extract?

If you know that your pumpkin pie needs more vanilla flavor, but don’t want to use vanilla extract because of the alcohol content, then simply add more sugar and a few drops of liquid stevia to your vanilla extract. This way, you’ll still get the vanilla flavor and sweetness from the sugar, but no extra alcohol.

If you want to avoid sugar and stevia altogether, then try substituting maple syrup for a similar flavor profile. Maple syrup is made from parts of trees instead of grains like granulated sugar is, which means that it has fewer carbs. That being said, it has very similar taste characteristics when used in baking and cooking recipes.

What alcohol should I use in vanilla extract?

Vanilla extract is made with the extract of vanilla beans, which means that you need the flavorful compounds from the bean to make your sauce and other cooking projects delicious. Some brands just use cheap alcohol to flavor their extracts, but these brands won’t give you the same rich taste and quality you deserve.

Instead, look for a quality vanilla extract made with real ingredients such as Madagascar Bourbon vanilla beans or Tahitian vanilla beans. These are some of the highest-quality vanilla bean varieties on the market, which means that you’ll get a smooth, rich flavor when using your homemade sauce or extracts.

Is alcohol in vanilla extract harmful?

The short answer is no, alcohol in vanilla extract is not dangerous or harmful in any way. Though it may be a little annoying to have so much alcohol evaporate into the air when you bake and cook with it, the only thing you should worry about is getting enough vanilla flavor for your recipe.

How to See if Alcohol Is in Vanilla Extract?

To find out how much alcohol is left in your bottle of vanilla extract, simply measure out a few teaspoons and let them sit out overnight. If the liquid has been reduced by half the next morning, then there isn’t much alcohol left. This is because most of the alcohol evaporates off during cooking or baking, so less of it remains in the end product.

Now that you know how to attach a label to your vanilla extract, you can enjoy it and all its benefits in your baking and cooking adventures. Plus, when you see ingredients listed as “alcohol,” you can easily avoid it by looking at the label to see if there is an alcohol designation.

After figuring out whether a food has alcohol in it or not, you’re ready to start exploring new treats for your body. Don’t forget about healthy recipes that are allergen-free, too!

If you’re looking for a vanilla extract to start your collection, try Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Extract. For more than 125 years they have been using the same recipe. The pure vanilla extract is rich and full of flavor, and it also has no alcohol in it.

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