Pure Vanilla Extract is 35% Alcohol

April 23, 2010 at 12:01 am Leave a comment

I made vanilla crème brulée a few weeks ago and I used a lot of pure vanilla extract, almost twice the amount the recipe suggested. I did a Grand Marnier flambé on top and although it tasted great, the best part was the excuse to buy a blowtorch.

Now, when you buy something labeled “pure”, you expect it to match the definition of pure, “unmodified by an admixture; simple or homogeneous.” But, that’s not what you get with pure vanilla extract.

In the United States, the FDA requires Pure Vanilla Extract to contain alcohol if it’s going to be called “pure.” Specifically, it must contain at least 35% alcohol and 13.35 ounces of vanilla bean per gallon.

It turns out this is not a rip off, alcohol actually helps extract the flavor from the vanilla beans. Not only that, vanilla extract gets better with age, maturing in about 2 years.

Alcohol free versions are available, but will not be labeled as “pure.”

Broken Secrets | Written By: Chad Upton

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Sources: dictionary.com, wikipedia, FDA, Arizona Vanilla

Photo: Jocelyn | McAuliflower (cc)

Entry filed under: Around The House, Demystified, Food and Drink, Law. Tags: , , , , .

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