Asked in Herbs Spices and Seasonings
Are vanilla extract and imitation vanilla flavoring the same?
AnswerImitation vanilla is manufactured either from clove oil (eugenol) or as a breakdown product of lignin from a conifer (e.g., spruce, Picea).
Pure vanilla chemically has over 200 elemental chemicals that give it its taste and smell, and it is impossible to mimic this 100% today. The main compound that gives real vanilla its taste is called vanillin. Madagascan vanilla has 3 times as much vanillin concentration (and therefore taste) compared to its nearest competition the Mexican Bourbon variety, and this is why it has such a reputation.
Also, in order to meet FDA standards, pure vanilla extract must contain 13.35 ounces of vanilla beans per gallon during extraction and 35 percent alcohol.
Vanilla Extract is better than imitation vanilla for non-baked and cold desserts where heating does not take away the flavor, but imitation vanilla flavor is very similar when used in baked items.