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Types of Vanilla

There are different species of vanilla plant. Learn about the properties of the two main vanilla species.

Vanilla planifolia is the most common species of vanilla. It's grown in India, Indonesia, Mexico, and Guatemala. It's also the species used for "Bourbon" vanilla from the islands of Madagascar, Reunion, and the Comoros.

Vanilla podsThis species of vanilla has a strong, rich, creamy, sweet, and almost hay-like aroma. The beans are thick skinned and longer than the Tahitian vanilla bean. They also contain more seeds than Tahitian vanilla beans..

vanillaTahitian vanilla beans, Vanilla tahitensis, are grown in the South Pacific. These beans are shorter and plumper than Vanilla planifolia beans and the have a higher water and oil content, too. Their strong, fruity, floral aroma is especially prized by European gourmet cooks.

Frontier offers a wide selection of high quality Bourbon and Tahitian vanilla beans, as well as vanilla powder, extracts and flavors.

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Vanilla You Don’t Want to Use

In an effort to cut costs, low-quality products are sold as vanilla. Learn why coumarin-adulterated vanilla, imitation vanilla, and vanilla flavor are inferior to pure vanilla extract.

Coumarin-Adulterated Vanilla

Avoid vanilla that has been adulterated with coumarin. Coumarin, derived from the tonka bean, is inexpensive and shares some constituents with vanilla. But while it adds a strong vanilla-like aroma, it contributes little flavor to the product. It's often added to "bargain" vanillas from Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean.

Imitation Vanilla

Pure vanilla is expensive. In order to make the product more affordable, imitation vanilla was developed. Imitation vanilla is made from artificial flavorings, the two most common sources of which are lignin vanillin, a by-product of the paper industry that is chemically treated to taste like vanilla, and ethyl vanillin, a coal-tar derivative.

Vanilla Flavor (WONF)

This flavor descriptor indicates that the product is made With Other Natural Flavors and means that the product contains other flavor ingredients, usually essential oils and botanical extracts. Any of these blended flavors won't, of course, have the taste profile of real vanilla and synthetic chemical carriers can sometimes be introduced. But even if the additions are natural, at best you have an inferior vanilla that is "boosted" with less expensive components.

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Quick Links

» All About Vanilla
» Vanilla Products
» Vanilla Recipes
» How to Buy & Store Good Vanilla Beans
» Types of Vanilla

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