Saturday, October 21, 2006

Vanilla Bean Extract 'Crunch'

I came across this interesting pure vanilla extract, made by Sonoma Syrup Co., and was intrigued by how it is made and its ingredients. I've always advocated using the freshest and best ingredients when cooking or baking, and I like this product for several reasons. The first, and foremost is that it comes from natural sources, it contains real vanilla bean seeds, in this case a mixture of the Bourbon variety grown in Madagascar, on the Bourbon Island (Reunion), the variety Vanilla Panifola Andrews, and one grown in Tahiti, the variety Vanilla Tahitensis. There are undoubtedly other varieties, and these varieties are also grown in other regions of the world, I'm not here to debate the fineness of one local varietal over another, like wine or chocolate, each has their champion, and each has their own tastes, and prefer one over another, or not at all, for some, they can't even determine what all the fuss is about, why there is even a difference in flavour. Just keep in mind that natural is always better than artificial, and you likely will not go wrong. I steadfastly refuse to use artificial vanilla, and have since I discovered real vanilla extract, I don't like that it comes from wood products, I just don't want to go there. The flavour is far superior in the natural product, and will make your baked goods turn out far superior. The second reason, is that it is prepared using a cold press method, this says that it uses a process that does not produce heat, heat which damages the very thing that is being extracted. Many good olive oils are prepared using this method, it ensures that the oil retains all its goodness and vitamins and minerals, its essence, so to speak. Heat normally changes the product, denatures some of the ingredients within, changes its flavour and constituents, which will happen when it is baked in the oven, I agree, but at least when you add it to your creations, you can know that it is at least as close to having natural vanilla bean as possible. It is also preservative free, preservatives extend the shelf life of products, but I prefer to have a product that is fresh, or at least as fresh as one can have with vanilla beans, seeing as they don't grow in Canada. The last reason that I will write about, is that it does not contain sugar. I don't see the reason for adding sugar, and prefer to regulate the amount and source of sugar in my baked goods, so that I know exactly what is going in, and how good it is for me. I look forward to using it for the first time.

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