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Is Vanilla Extract Gluten-Free? Here’s You Need To Know

Is vanilla extract gluten free? Any baker will tell you that this ingredient is a must in the world of baking. But people with Celiac or gluten sensitivity must be on the look out of foods they can eat, or not. This article will help.

If there’s a dessert being made, there’s a bottle of vanilla extract sitting at the workstation.

It’s true – almost every dessert needs a tiny splash of vanilla extract to kill the smell of ingredients like eggs and to round up all the other flavors. It is a much-loved ingredient in baking and sweets. But is it gluten free?

Pure vanilla extract is rich in taste because of its pure ingredients. It should be naturally gluten free unless the alcohol used in it contains gluten.

There are chances of cross-contamination, as well. You can rely on a vanilla extract that’s free from additives or alcohol to have no gluten and be completely safe.

Is Vanilla Extract Gluten Free – What is Vanilla Extract

Vanilla extract is quintessential in bakery and confectionary-making. It not only adds a strong flavor to all desserts and sweets but also enhances the flavors of the other ingredients.

The best-quality vanilla extracts come in bottles that are not exactly easy on our pockets. But is vanilla extract gluten free?

The simple truth is that pure vanilla extract, which comes from vanilla beans, is naturally free from gluten.

Traditionally, it has a base of water and alcohol in which the vanilla beans are added for the purpose of extraction and manufacturing of the clear but rich shade of amber and a mesmerizing aroma.

Some variants of vanilla extracts available now do not contain alcohol at all.

Either way, a high-quality vanilla extract does not contain flavoring agents or additives of any kind. Since vanilla beans have nothing to do with any of the gluten grains, vanilla extracts should be naturally gluten free.

The only source of gluten in pure vanilla extract is the alcohol content in it. If the alcohol used by the brand is distilled, it will not contain gluten.

However, since alcohol is mostly made from gluten, and the brand uses non-distilled alcohol in the vanilla extract, gluten may be present in this flavoring.

The process of distillation usually removes gluten, and the trace gluten left behind is generally below the permitted limit of 20 ppm.

So, it’s a good idea to check the label properly to see if the vanilla extract you’re about to buy. A reliable brand will always use distilled alcohol – and mention that on the label. 

Some brands now use alcohol made from non-gluten sources like potatoes, sugarcane, or corn. Some brands don’t even use alcohol, which is considered a vanilla flavor.

But both alcohol-containing vanilla extract and alcohol-free vanilla flavor are now utilized and mentioned interchangeably.

Why You Should Stay Away From Cheap Imitations of Vanilla Extract

Because vanilla extract is made from vanilla beans and has a rich aroma, it is quite expensive.

So, many people choose low-cost versions of it. But this is not at all a good idea.

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The first problem that you can face with a cheap vanilla extract is that the alcohol might not be distilled, and it can contain gluten.

Another problem is that imitation or artificial vanilla extract – or vanilla flavor, to be exact – is the use of additives.

The aroma of vanilla is made stronger in such imitations by using artificial flavoring agents like bran, coal tar, and other scary products. You probably know that additives might contain gluten.

Coloring agents are also used in a low-cost vanilla extract to give it a rich color.

Sadly, it is difficult to determine from the label of the extract bottle if these additives have gluten in them. So it is better to spend a little more on buying a vanilla extract that is pure and naturally free from gluten.

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Pure Vanilla Extract – Is It Worth The Price?

If you do a lot of baking, the price of your first bottle of vanilla extract might give you a small heart attack.

Using such an expensive product on a regular basis might seem like an extraordinarily expensive ordeal, right?

But let us tell you that using pure vanilla extract might not exactly be as costly as you think.

Since the pure extract is potent in flavor, you will need to use very little of the product.

Honestly, if you replace your regular low-cost extract or flavoring with the same amount of pure extract, the vanilla flavor will be too bold.

It will overpower all other flavors in the recipe instead of complementing them.

Since you will only need to use a small amount, the bottle will last longer. It will still be more expensive than regular, cheap vanilla extract, of course.

But when it comes to health, you cannot and should not compromise. If the extract contains non-distilled alcohol or gluten-containing additives, it will harm you.

How Vanilla Extracts Are Made

There are different ways of extracting the pure essence from vanilla beans. However, to ensure that the vanilla extract is pure, strongly flavorsome, and healthy, without any gluten content in it, the following two methods of extraction are used. Take a look at these healthy vanilla extraction methods.

a) Vanilla Extraction Using Distilled Alcohol

As mentioned earlier, the best way to ensure that vanilla extract is gluten free is by using distilled alcohol.

The process of distillation eliminates gluten content and prevents the formation of any extra protein. Other gluten free products used in the extraction medium with alcohol is water.  

b) Vanilla Extraction Using Plain Water

Vanilla extraction is also performed with the help of a purely water-based extraction medium.

The process is tedious, which is why large-scale commercial producers often avoid it.

However, many brands have now developed the practice of vanilla extraction using pure water for those who avoid alcohol. 

These methods are used for pure vanilla extract. There are other variants of vanilla extract which cannot exactly be termed as extracts.

These are low-cost flavoring agents with additional ingredients or even vanilla flavorings.

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Their manufacturing process will differ based on the product and the brand.

Technically, when there is no alcohol, the liquid is referred to as vanilla flavor.

However, referring to alcohol-free flavor as a pure extract has become a well-accepted convention now.

This production process of vanilla flavor uses propylene glycol. But you should be careful if you are allergic to the substance. 

Making Your Own Vanilla Extract At Home

Vanilla extract is readily available at any good store. Yet, some people make it at home.

The question is – is it worth all the hassle? You see, the best thing about making something at home is knowing exactly what you’re eating or feeding your family. The satisfaction of picking the healthiest products is heavenly.

If you are allergic to gluten or have celiac disease, you probably already have the habit of cooking everything at home.

This is to ensure that nothing remotely gluten-containing goes into your mouth.

Vanilla extract can also be made at home to ensure that it is gluten free and safe for your consumption.

Pure vanilla extract is indeed gluten free, but sometimes, manufacturers might put additives in them, and these might not be gluten free.

In addition, pure vanilla extract that’s free from gluten is going to burn quite a hole in your pocket. Most importantly, vanilla extract is pretty easy and fun to make.

Is Bakers imitation vanilla flavor gluten free?

Imitation or artificial vanilla flavors contain additives like coal tar, bran, and other chemicals. These ingredients might not seem to be harmful but they are definitely not natural.

Other commercial products like imitation vanilla flavors are made from propylene glycol. This artificial flavor can affect your health with time if you consume it frequently.

Which brands of vanilla extract are gluten free?

Vanilla extract that is not labeled “pure” or “natural” almost certainly contains gluten.

All real vanilla extract brands claim to be 100% gluten free. Here are a few of them – Schar Vanilla Extract – 100% Pure, Natural, and Gluten Free

The Schar brand has a wide variety of flavors to choose from including vanilla, almond, orange, coconut and mint flavors. They also have extracts which add zest to all kinds of savory dishes as well. The Schar Company claims that they go through great lengths to ensure that the flavor is as pure as possible without adding any additives.

What is imitation vanilla made from?

Imitation vanilla flavor is made from chemicals and coal tar. You might wonder why manufacturers make it this way.

Well, since vanilla beans are costly and difficult to procure, the process of extracting their aroma is not a viable alternative for commercial manufacturers. So they resort to artificial ingredients which have similar tastes as real vanilla.

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Is imitation vanilla gluten free?

Imitation vanilla flavor contains ingredients like bran, anticaking agents and additives which are derived from wheat or barley. This means that most if not all imitation vanillas contain gluten. However, there is no official information about this so you will have to read the label carefully before making a purchase.

Are there any vanilla flavored products which are gluten free?

Vanilla flavored ice cream is one of the most popular vanilla products. However, you should always check the label before buying a vanilla flavored product. That is because many manufacturers use imitation vanilla and this is not healthy or gluten free at all. Also, if you see several different flavors in an ice cream carton, they should be labeled individually like “plain” or “vanilla flavored” so that the quantity of the flavor is clear to you.

What other food items contain vanilla?

You will find a good number of food items which contain real and natural vanilla in them. Here are a few of them:

Vanilla candy: There are a number of vanilla flavored candies coming in different flavors. This is because real vanilla tastes an awful lot better than imitation vanillas. These candies contain real extracts which do not contain additives or other chemicals that might have adverse health effects on your body.

Vanilla pudding: In order to make the most delicious vanilla pudding, you will have to use real extract seperately from the vanilla flavoring. The last thing you want is to put chemicals into your body just for the sake of flavor. That’s why it’s important to buy genuine extract and not some imitation flavor which might be harmful.

Is Queen imitation vanilla gluten free?

Yes, Queen imitation vanilla flavor is gluten free. It contains no ingredients which can be associated with gluten. Queen Imitation Vanilla Flavor is a popular flavoring and is widely available on the internet, in grocery stores and other shops.

Queen imitation vanilla flavor has a unique odor and taste that rids any kind of sweetness in the food to which it’s added to. It’s very strong and has an excellent taste that blends well with any kind of sweet food items such as brownies and cakes.

Tips for using gluten free vanilla extract:

You should store your bottle in a dry place so that it does not get damaged or leak out its contents. You can store vanilla extract in a cool, dark and dry place like a cupboard or cabinet.

If you use vanilla extract frequently, it is advisable to buy a new bottle each time you finish the old one. You also should use a brand of vanilla extract that is certified gluten free by the U.S.D.A.

Mix 1/4 tsp of vanilla extract along with 1/4 tsp of honey for every 8 oz of water used in your recipe for an easier and smoother taste in your food items.

Pure vanilla extract is gluten free. However, you should be careful of the brands you are buying. Some brands might not be safe for people with celiac disease. Always check the label to ensure that there are no traces of gluten in the extract. Imitation vanilla flavor is NOT gluten free because it contains wheat or barley derivatives in it. Make sure to check labels before making purchases and use only pure extracts as much as possible.

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