Homemade Vanilla Extract
How Mexican Vanilla Extract Differs From Other Types
Mexican vanilla extract is different from other varieties in a few ways. It carries sweet and woodsy notes with a creamy and spicy-sweet flavor that recalls clove or nutmeg.
Mexican vanilla plants are the only variety that is naturally pollinated by Melopina bees. Fermenting and curing the extract can take anywhere from three to six months.
The vanilla pods are put onto straw mats and slipped into an oven for up to 2 days. The pods are spread out in the sun, covered with palm rugs, and left to ripen in wooden boxes.
Finally, the beans are vacuum-sealed and aged for at least 2 to 3 months. This process brings woodsy, smoky, and pungent spicy notes to the final vanilla extract.
Michel Mustiere, Culinary Director of Velas Resorts, describes the vanilla as astringent and toasty, with flavors of clove, raisin, and cocoa. It's also thinner in consistency.
Mexican vanilla pairs especially well with chocolate, as well as citrus fruits like orange, lemon, lime, or even kumquats. Its spiciness also goes well with chile peppers.
Be cautious when purchasing vanilla in Mexico, as it could contain coumarin (which is banned in the U.S.,) or be labeled "pure" when it is actually artificial.
If the product has a vague ingredient list, says "tonka bean," or has no list, odds are it's not authentic Mexican vanilla. Instead, look for "vanilla bean" on the ingredient list.