Food - Drink
What To Look For On The Label When Buying Vanilla Extract
Vanilla is one of the world’s most popular flavors, and is a staple in confections around the globe. You might think of vanilla as a bean, but it’s actually the fruit of an orchid flower that opens once a year, which is why true vanilla is expensive, yet worth it — here's what to look for when shopping for vanilla extract.
Vanilla is the second most expensive spice after saffron, and some bottles of vanilla extract cost up to $30. When searching for extract, look at the ingredients, which should include vanilla, water, alcohol, and nothing else; though the USDA allows bottles labeled "extract" to contain a few additives, you're better off without them.
Some cheap vanilla "extracts" are made with synthetic vanillin, the compound that gives vanilla its flavor, plus water, ethanol, propylene glycol, emulsifiers, and/or artificial colors. Vanilla extract is regulated by American law, so these imposters are often labeled vanilla "essence" instead of "extract," and you should steer clear.