Author Topic: Where can I get pure vanilla extract that doesn't cost an arm and a leg?  (Read 3776 times)

FiguringItOut

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3 years ago I bought 16 oz bottle of it from webstaurantstore.com for $11. 
Right now they are selling the same bottle for $45.  Also, shipping went up from $11 to $20.

I'm not impressed with them at the moment. 

Raenia

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This isn't really the question you asked, but I make my own vanilla extract.  Buy the beans vacuum packed off Amazon or wherever, soak in grain alcohol for a few months.  Tastes even better than store-bought, and you can steep it to whatever strength you like.  I use it straight from the jar, and add additional alcohol and/or beans as needed.

RWD

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http://newjersey.news12.com/story/38188426/vanilla-extract-shortage-leads-to-skyrocketing-prices
Quote
The reason for the increased price is due to a cyclone that hit Madagascar - the world's leading vanilla grower - that wiped out the crop. It will take years to replace it.

I don't have a source suggestion, but I wouldn't get upset at the website you wanted to use because it's probably out of their control (except for the shipping part, probably).

FiguringItOut

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Use google or straight to amazon, unless you are opposed to the big guys taking over the universe.

Amazon has options ranging from $0.80 / oz and up, with 4-5 star ratings.

I already checked amazon several times, I don't see pure extract there for this price.  Do you have a link by any chance? 

Bracken_Joy

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It's gotten so expensive, I'm using the real stuff we have VERY sparingly, and have just accepted the artificial stuff for other uses. =\ It sucks, but it's majorly expensive right now. So I've just been modifying recipes, using different recipes, and using the fake stuff as needed.

englishteacheralex

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It's expensive right now because of environmental reasons, as a previous post cited. I bought the phony stuff. Pretty interchangeable in baking recipes, I've found. I'd sub a different flavor in anything fancy, like creme brŻlťe.

FiguringItOut

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It's gotten so expensive, I'm using the real stuff we have VERY sparingly, and have just accepted the artificial stuff for other uses. =\ It sucks, but it's majorly expensive right now. So I've just been modifying recipes, using different recipes, and using the fake stuff as needed.

I hear you.  I can't seem to switch to fake stuff.
Does it taste different? 

FiguringItOut

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I'll have to see if my daughter would be willing to try fake one.  She's the baker in my house. 

mr.mongoose

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There was a blight in the vanilla groves, so worldwide supply is very low. So prices will be higher for a while.

Bracken_Joy

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It's gotten so expensive, I'm using the real stuff we have VERY sparingly, and have just accepted the artificial stuff for other uses. =\ It sucks, but it's majorly expensive right now. So I've just been modifying recipes, using different recipes, and using the fake stuff as needed.

I hear you.  I can't seem to switch to fake stuff.
Does it taste different?

No difference I can tell in baked goods or things like puddings. I use the real stuff for fancy cocktails where the flavor is at the forefront.

The good lab stuff is literally the same key compounds, just synthetic. It's really, REALLY convincing generally. It just doesn't have the complexity of flavor of the real stuff. Like, it hits the few main notes perfectly. But that really complex background of flavors are missing. If that makes sense. In baking, you don't get the depth anyway, but something simple- like a homemade ice cream or a cocktail- you can tell the difference. Not bad by any means though. Just not as robust/rich/deep.

Noodle

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If it makes you feel any better, I read that for most baking, people won't notice much of a difference between vanillin (the artificial version) and real vanilla extract. There's a great chapter in the book "Eight Flavors" by Sarah Lohman that is a really interesting read, and I think that's where I came across it.

E.T.

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No difference I can tell in baked goods or things like puddings. I use the real stuff for fancy cocktails where the flavor is at the forefront.

The good lab stuff is literally the same key compounds, just synthetic. It's really, REALLY convincing generally. It just doesn't have the complexity of flavor of the real stuff. Like, it hits the few main notes perfectly. But that really complex background of flavors are missing. If that makes sense. In baking, you don't get the depth anyway, but something simple- like a homemade ice cream or a cocktail- you can tell the difference. Not bad by any means though. Just not as robust/rich/deep.

I got lucky and bought beans just before the cyclone, so I'm using my 2x strength super dank homemade vanilla only for cocktails. One or two drops makes a beautiful flavor bomb for a mixed drink. Subbing artificial here would not be as good for me.

Even though I'm a high class picky person, I don't really notice when I use the cheap stuff when baking either, for what it's worth.

lhamo

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Costco has 16 oz bottles-- looks like the price is probably around $35. 

pbkmaine

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a-scho

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https://www.americastestkitchen.com/taste_tests/455-vanilla-extract

I know the link doesn't tell you where the best priced real vanilla is, but it does point out that fake is the best choice for baked items and real for not heated recipes. Save yourself some cash if you're using it for baking.

Cranky

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Yeah, itís just a bad time for vanilla prices. I usually buy a big bottle at Christmas, but this year I didnít because it was so much more expensive - and now itís even more expensive!
« Last Edit: June 19, 2018, 07:12:38 AM by Cranky »

seattlecyclone

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Yeah, I remember Costco had a 16 oz bottle in the $30-35 range last time I went. I've been holding off on buying it because of the price, but then I went to the regular grocery store and found a 4 oz bottle of store-brand artificial vanilla for over $4. The real stuff was around $30 for a small bottle! The fake stuff still offers some cost savings to be had over the real stuff, but not nearly as much as I had been expecting.

okits

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Last year I went to the "gourmet foods" section at Winners (their parent company also owns Marshalls.  Perhaps they are similar?  Discounted clothing and housewares.) and found vanilla for $6 (comparable size at grocery store was $21).  I figured a store like that might not be adjusting prices on generic food gifts if they were bought wholesale at pre-spike prices and I was right.

I feel like somewhere I saw the supermarket health foods/organics section had vanilla for lower prices (possibly same reason as above?)  I must see if I can find it again as my last bottle is almost half gone (and I'm using it regularly).

ETA: Canadian dollars, so X 0.75 for USD.

diffusate

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One more vote for making your own. You can get "extract grade" beans on eBay, they are totally decent quality. Just soak in some cheap vodka a while. I did this with half, and made very fancy vanilla bean paste with the other half by grinding them finely with some agave nectar.

okits

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Last year I went to the "gourmet foods" section at Winners (their parent company also owns Marshalls.  Perhaps they are similar?  Discounted clothing and housewares.) and found vanilla for $6 (comparable size at grocery store was $21).  I figured a store like that might not be adjusting prices on generic food gifts if they were bought wholesale at pre-spike prices and I was right.

I feel like somewhere I saw the supermarket health foods/organics section had vanilla for lower prices (possibly same reason as above?)  I must see if I can find it again as my last bottle is almost half gone (and I'm using it regularly).

ETA: Canadian dollars, so X 0.75 for USD.

Checked out both.  Winners had tiny bottles at the going (expensive) rate.  Organics section at supermarket had vanilla extract for $13 (vs. $21 in the baking section) so I bought that.  Not a steal but almost half what I'm seeing elsewhere.

MrUpwardlyMobile

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One more vote for making your own. You can get "extract grade" beans on eBay, they are totally decent quality. Just soak in some cheap vodka a while. I did this with half, and made very fancy vanilla bean paste with the other half by grinding them finely with some agave nectar.
Cheap vodka? That sounds awful.  Cheap vodka is a marvel of poor distillation and filtration resulting in flavors that are just...off...  youíd probably be happier using grain alcohol, which is generally cheap in those states where you can legally purchase it.

Anon in Alaska

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Is it going to go up or down over the next year?

I'm down to the last quarter ounce in my eight ounce bottle that I bought over 30 years ago, so I have about a years worth left.

Case

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Tldr;. Hippies ruined it for everybody and your can't get cheap natural vanilla.


There has been a world wide shortage due to some natural disasters, but the bigger reason is the dumb trend of stupid people wanting everything to be 'natural'.  As a result, industries (especially Nestle) have exhausted global supply by using vanilla bean rather than vanillin (synthetic) in their crappy products.  All fed by blogger mom's etc who have to have 'all natural' everything because they are stupid.

If anyone is getting the good deals on vanilla, rest assured it is Nestle.

Case

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It's expensive right now because of environmental reasons, as a previous post cited. I bought the phony stuff. Pretty interchangeable in baking recipes, I've found. I'd sub a different flavor in anything fancy, like creme brŻlťe.

Actually only partly true, see below.

Case

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Is it going to go up or down over the next year?

I'm down to the last quarter ounce in my eight ounce bottle that I bought over 30 years ago, so I have about a years worth left.

Not significantly.  I'd your want the good stuff you'll have to pay up. 

neophyte

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I use a lot of vanilla, but I use the fake stuff in anything that has another overriding flavor. Chocolate cake, orange scones, mint ice cream? - fake stuff, most of the time you can't tell the difference. For something just vanilla flavored though I try to go with the real stuff.

radram

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I just bought one of these:
https://www.amazon.com/Danncy-Mexican-Vanilla-Extract-Plastic/dp/B00F3DSARY/ref=sr_1_13_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1529507754&sr=8-13&keywords=danncy+pure+mexican+vanilla+extract

I got it from an Amish store and paid $8.95 for 33.8 oz.

It says pure Mexican vanilla. I haven't tried it yet. What is the difference between regular and Mexican vanilla?

Did I buy what many would call "fake vanilla"?  Will I care?

partgypsy

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I just bought one of these:
https://www.amazon.com/Danncy-Mexican-Vanilla-Extract-Plastic/dp/B00F3DSARY/ref=sr_1_13_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1529507754&sr=8-13&keywords=danncy+pure+mexican+vanilla+extract

I got it from an Amish store and paid $8.95 for 33.8 oz.

It says pure Mexican vanilla. I haven't tried it yet. What is the difference between regular and Mexican vanilla?

Did I buy what many would call "fake vanilla"?  Will I care?

Mexican vanilla should be the same as regular vanilla. But if you look at the label of what you bought it is a combination of artificial sweetener, artificial flavor and real vanilla extract. 

Ooh, there is also this https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/vanilla-iced/

I'm in the same spot. I'm at the bottom of my vanilla extract bottle, but keep putting off buying it because of the price.
« Last Edit: June 20, 2018, 01:05:03 PM by partgypsy »

GreenSheep

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For those who want to make their own vanilla but don't want to use alcohol, you can blend 1 cup water and 3 vanilla beans until totally liquified. Then store it in the fridge. I used to make my own vanilla extract with vodka, but to me, this tastes better than the usual extract.

Regarding the OP's question... my plan is just to try to wait out the high vanilla prices and hope that they come down. I have a 750mL bottle of vanilla/water right now, and I'm trying to conserve it!

dragoncar

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Yeah, itís just a bad time for vanilla prices. I usually buy a big bottle at Christmas, but this year I didnít because it was so much more expensive - and now itís even more expensive!

TIL that the Costco extract I got years ago is my best performing investment.  Close runner up, maple syrup

meghan88

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Yeah, itís just a bad time for vanilla prices. I usually buy a big bottle at Christmas, but this year I didnít because it was so much more expensive - and now itís even more expensive!

TIL that the Costco extract I got years ago is my best performing investment.  Close runner up, maple syrup

Oooh, that's some bragging.  Though I have to admit that I did quite well with a bag of organic chick peas recently.  High risk, but a good investment in the long run.

dragoncar

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Yeah, itís just a bad time for vanilla prices. I usually buy a big bottle at Christmas, but this year I didnít because it was so much more expensive - and now itís even more expensive!

TIL that the Costco extract I got years ago is my best performing investment.  Close runner up, maple syrup

Oooh, that's some bragging.  Though I have to admit that I did quite well with a bag of organic chick peas recently.  High risk, but a good investment in the long run.

The problem is my WR is much higher than 4%

radram

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Yeah, itís just a bad time for vanilla prices. I usually buy a big bottle at Christmas, but this year I didnít because it was so much more expensive - and now itís even more expensive!

TIL that the Costco extract I got years ago is my best performing investment.  Close runner up, maple syrup

Oooh, that's some bragging.  Though I have to admit that I did quite well with a bag of organic chick peas recently.  High risk, but a good investment in the long run.

The problem is my WR is much higher than 4%

A 4% WR for a 0% earning asset? There is no way that math will work, unless you can get your vanilla to grow. Your maple syrup, however, CAN grow, as long as you buy the maple tree, not the syrup:)

Bracken_Joy

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Hello vanilla lovers! Penzey's spices is doing a deal right now where you can get a FREE box of mexican vanilla and their salsa & pico blend. It's to raise awareness or support around the immigration issues going on right now. Here's a link: https://www.penzeys.com/online-catalog/hope-gift-box/c-24/p-3152/pd-gb If you don't order more than $20 of other stuff then you pay shipping, but that's still like $8 for a spendy bottle of real mexican vanilla.

Thought you guys might appreciate. At time of posting, they have ~50k freebies left.

G-dog

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Hello vanilla lovers! Penzey's spices is doing a deal right now where you can get a FREE box of mexican vanilla and their salsa & pico blend. It's to raise awareness or support around the immigration issues going on right now. Here's a link: https://www.penzeys.com/online-catalog/hope-gift-box/c-24/p-3152/pd-gb If you don't order more than $20 of other stuff then you pay shipping, but that's still like $8 for a spendy bottle of real mexican vanilla.

Thought you guys might appreciate. At time of posting, they have ~50k freebies left.

Very cool! Debated taking advantage of this yesterday. Today I pulled the trigger - so there must be some still available.

Juslookin

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Hello vanilla lovers! Penzey's spices is doing a deal right now where you can get a FREE box of mexican vanilla and their salsa & pico blend. It's to raise awareness or support around the immigration issues going on right now. Here's a link: https://www.penzeys.com/online-catalog/hope-gift-box/c-24/p-3152/pd-gb If you don't order more than $20 of other stuff then you pay shipping, but that's still like $8 for a spendy bottle of real mexican vanilla.

Thought you guys might appreciate. At time of posting, they have ~50k freebies left.

Thanks so much!  I had a list of herbs I was waiting to buy so I jumped on this for the free vanilla.  By the way, Penzey's has the BEST pumpkin pie spice which I use in my zuke bread.  And I have zukes coming out my ears!

Bracken_Joy

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Hello vanilla lovers! Penzey's spices is doing a deal right now where you can get a FREE box of mexican vanilla and their salsa & pico blend. It's to raise awareness or support around the immigration issues going on right now. Here's a link: https://www.penzeys.com/online-catalog/hope-gift-box/c-24/p-3152/pd-gb If you don't order more than $20 of other stuff then you pay shipping, but that's still like $8 for a spendy bottle of real mexican vanilla.

Thought you guys might appreciate. At time of posting, they have ~50k freebies left.

Thanks so much!  I had a list of herbs I was waiting to buy so I jumped on this for the free vanilla.  By the way, Penzey's has the BEST pumpkin pie spice which I use in my zuke bread.  And I have zukes coming out my ears!

Oooh, good to know when I run out of my current pumpkin pie spice! Thanks!

okits

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Hello vanilla lovers! Penzey's spices is doing a deal right now where you can get a FREE box of mexican vanilla and their salsa & pico blend. It's to raise awareness or support around the immigration issues going on right now. Here's a link: https://www.penzeys.com/online-catalog/hope-gift-box/c-24/p-3152/pd-gb If you don't order more than $20 of other stuff then you pay shipping, but that's still like $8 for a spendy bottle of real mexican vanilla.

Thought you guys might appreciate. At time of posting, they have ~50k freebies left.

Thanks so much!  I had a list of herbs I was waiting to buy so I jumped on this for the free vanilla.  By the way, Penzey's has the BEST pumpkin pie spice which I use in my zuke bread.  And I have zukes coming out my ears!

Oooh, good to know when I run out of my current pumpkin pie spice! Thanks!

For zucchini bread I sorta just throw together a bunch of cinnamon, nutmeg, and all spice (approx. 3 tsp, 1/2 tsp, 1/4 tsp).  Inferior approach?

chowdan

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As many have said, a shortage in vanilla is in full effect. I would recommend switching to an alternative such as Almond extract.

Don't buy into the overpriced rates!

Rosy

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Ugh - I can taste the difference in a millisecond. I like almonds but hate the taste of almond extract.

I lucked out and bought a bottle at 50% off when Winn Dixie discounted a particular brand. Then Aldi had a good deal right around Thanksgiving. I'll have enough to make it through Christmas. For baking, I use packets of vanilla sugar, instead. Great with any sort of fruit too - like apples and strawberries, peaches etc.
I'll buy vanilla beans and make my own before I pay such high prices, I'll probably do it with Vodka.
You can also just submerge the vanilla in sugar if you want - no work involved, just a bit of time and darkness and in Florida protection from sugar ants - vacuum sealed containers work best. 

FireHiker

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I make my own with Costco brand vodka. I have two bottle going, and once one is half gone I refill it with vodka and switch to the other bottle for 4-6 weeks. It lasts a LONG time this way. I also have a large bottle from Costco that I got before prices skyrocketed, so I'll use it in a pinch if I'm waiting on both of the homemade bottles to refresh. I love the taste of real vanilla (and real butter and real maple syrup...) so I just can't bring myself to use the fake stuff. Good to know that it is an option for something with another overpowering flavor though if I ever need to consider that.

G-dog

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I make my own with Costco brand vodka. I have two bottle going, and once one is half gone I refill it with vodka and switch to the other bottle for 4-6 weeks. It lasts a LONG time this way. I also have a large bottle from Costco that I got before prices skyrocketed, so I'll use it in a pinch if I'm waiting on both of the homemade bottles to refresh. I love the taste of real vanilla (and real butter and real maple syrup...) so I just can't bring myself to use the fake stuff. Good to know that it is an option for something with another overpowering flavor though if I ever need to consider that.

How many vanilla beans: volume of vodka?  I bought Costco vodka for just this purpose.

esq

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I just bought one of these:
https://www.amazon.com/Danncy-Mexican-Vanilla-Extract-Plastic/dp/B00F3DSARY/ref=sr_1_13_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1529507754&sr=8-13&keywords=danncy+pure+mexican+vanilla+extract

I got it from an Amish store and paid $8.95 for 33.8 oz.

It says pure Mexican vanilla. I haven't tried it yet. What is the difference between regular and Mexican vanilla?

Did I buy what many would call "fake vanilla"?  Will I care?

Mexican vanilla should be the same as regular vanilla. But if you look at the label of what you bought it is a combination of artificial sweetener, artificial flavor and real vanilla extract. 

Ooh, there is also this https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/vanilla-iced/

I'm in the same spot. I'm at the bottom of my vanilla extract bottle, but keep putting off buying it because of the price.

About 4 years ago I bought a large bottle of Mexican vanilla at an Amish store. It was cheap and I was suspicious, but I bought it anyway, because how can you not trust Amish folk running an Amish store in an Amish village?

When i got it home it was so disgusting I had to dump the entire bottle. The dish satellite hidden behind the chimney on one of the houses should have confirmed my suspicions.

Lulee

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How many vanilla beans: volume of vodka?  I bought Costco vodka for just this purpose.

One time vanilla maker (for well-received presents).  I used a recipe from the internet a woman had shared that originated "from the Vanilla Information Bureau" which I never actually checked to see if it existed or if she got the recipe right.  She said they suggested splitting a bean lengthwise and then cutting it into 2" pieces which would soak in 3/4 cup of rum or vodka for at least 6 weeks.  The longer they soaked, the stronger the flavor.  Obviously the newness of the beans and size of them can make an impact on this as well.  I got my Tahitian or Madagascan beans from a well rated company on Amazon because at the time everything around the area was nasty old dried up beans which were way more expensive.

Mom has been making her own for years in two bottles (one to use and one steeping).  She re-uses beans she cuts open and stuffs at least 6 old & new ones in I'd guess 4 cups of vodka.  Not sure when she decides an old bean has given up all its goodness.

sapphail

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I just bought one of these:
https://www.amazon.com/Danncy-Mexican-Vanilla-Extract-Plastic/dp/B00F3DSARY/ref=sr_1_13_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1529507754&sr=8-13&keywords=danncy+pure+mexican+vanilla+extract

It says pure Mexican vanilla. I haven't tried it yet. What is the difference between regular and Mexican vanilla?

Note the line, 'Does not contain coumarin.' Coumarin is also known as warfarin and is a blood thinner; it's present in some brands of Mexican vanilla as someproducers pad out the product with tonka beans. As long as you're buying from a reliable source, you should be fine.

jinga nation

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I just bought one of these:
https://www.amazon.com/Danncy-Mexican-Vanilla-Extract-Plastic/dp/B00F3DSARY/ref=sr_1_13_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1529507754&sr=8-13&keywords=danncy+pure+mexican+vanilla+extract

It says pure Mexican vanilla. I haven't tried it yet. What is the difference between regular and Mexican vanilla?

Note the line, 'Does not contain coumarin.' Coumarin is also known as warfarin and is a blood thinner; it's present in some brands of Mexican vanilla as someproducers pad out the product with tonka beans. As long as you're buying from a reliable source, you should be fine.

Coumarin is not coumadin/warfarin. Coumarin is "used in the pharmaceutical industry as a precursor reagent in the synthesis of a number of synthetic anticoagulant pharmaceuticals similar to dicoumarol, the notable ones being warfarin (brand name Coumadin) and some even more potent rodenticides that work by the same anticoagulant mechanism. 4-hydroxycoumarins are a type of vitamin K antagonist. Pharmaceutical (modified) coumarins were all developed from the study of sweet clover disease; see warfarin for this history. However, unmodified coumarin itself, as it occurs in plants, has no effect on the vitamin K coagulation system, or on the action of warfarin-type drugs."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coumarin

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partgypsy

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I think I'm just going to go to dollar store or local store and buy a 1 oz bottle to tide me over. I looked and I can buy 5 vanilla beans for $20, but then I'd have to wait 6 weeks to use...

macoconut

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Stonemill Pure Vanilla Extract (2 fl oz) was $3.55 a day or two ago when I bought it at ALDI. Ingredients listed are water, 41% alcohol, and vanilla bean extractives.

partgypsy

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How many vanilla beans: volume of vodka?  I bought Costco vodka for just this purpose.

One time vanilla maker (for well-received presents).  I used a recipe from the internet a woman had shared that originated "from the Vanilla Information Bureau" which I never actually checked to see if it existed or if she got the recipe right.  She said they suggested splitting a bean lengthwise and then cutting it into 2" pieces which would soak in 3/4 cup of rum or vodka for at least 6 weeks.  The longer they soaked, the stronger the flavor.  Obviously the newness of the beans and size of them can make an impact on this as well.  I got my Tahitian or Madagascan beans from a well rated company on Amazon because at the time everything around the area was nasty old dried up beans which were way more expensive.

Mom has been making her own for years in two bottles (one to use and one steeping).  She re-uses beans she cuts open and stuffs at least 6 old & new ones in I'd guess 4 cups of vodka.  Not sure when she decides an old bean has given up all its goodness.

Here is a stupid question. If I am buying vanilla beans, what should I look for? For example one listing said "extra dried" . Is it better to buy more dried out ones or juicier/fresh ones? Madagascar vs Tahitian vs Mexican?

Lulee

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My understanding is you want beans that are not dried out but have a spring to them, oily surface, and smell really good.  Different people have differing opinions on which type to get.  http://zoebakes.com/2011/03/08/how-to-use-a-vanilla-bean/ has a good explanation of the different types and why people like each one.  http://zoebakes.com/2012/01/03/homemade-vanilla-extract/ is her recipe on how to make the extract.  The few recipes I've looked up since posting earlier seem to have you put more beans in which would give the extract a richer flavor and deeper color.

I'd bought Madagascan beans for my presents.  I think because Alton Brown or someone recommended it as the best and I wanted to rock people's worlds with my gifts.  I suspect that as long as you get fresh beans, you'll love the outcome.  Maybe try one type of bean this time and then a different one next?  Some people probably can tell the difference, especially if they're making vanilla flavored foods like ice cream or creme brulee.  Not sure many of us would be able to spot the differences in say a chocolate cake.

If you have the opportunity to sniff different types of beans, it would great to hear what you think each one would be best for or if you think there's not enough difference to matter.