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Vanilla Beans vs. Vanilla Extract: Key Differences to Know

When you’re baking, there is bound to be a long list of ingredients. And for many recipes, one common baking ingredient is going to be vanilla. If a recipe calls for vanilla, there are generally two options: use vanilla extract or use vanilla beans. In this article, we’re going to talk about a few key differences between these two options everyone should know.

Vanilla Extract

Vanilla extract is more commonly used because it’s sold in almost any grocery store and it’s pretty easy to use. This liquid mixture consists of water, ethyl alcohol, and vanillin. It is made from vanilla beans to produce a vanilla flavor. However, artificial vanilla extract can actually have a bitter taste since it’s made from pulp waste and not right from the plant. But both artificial and natural vanilla extract can be used in recipes for cakes, cookies, and other sweets to enhance all of the flavors — but the actual vanilla flavor will not be as noticeable since it’s more subdued.

Vanilla Beans

Tahitian vanilla beans and other varieties offer a much stronger scent and flavor when used in baking. Vanilla beans are a pod filled with flavorful seeds of vanilla — they can be used in a variety of ways. Once the seeds are used in baking or even ice cream, the pods can then be used to infuse coffee grounds, sugar, or other food items. When you buy vanilla beans, they are going to be a bit more expensive, but that’s due to them being higher quality and having a long production process. If ground vanilla beans are used in baking, the baked good is going to have a more powerful vanilla flavor, which is perfect for certain baked goods.

It’s no secret that a lot of work goes into making pure and natural ingredients. For example, it takes about 14,000 stigmas to create just one ounce of saffron threads and pure vanilla extract is made up of 13.35 ounces of vanilla beans. Using Tahitian vanilla beans may be a bit more work, but it’s definitely worth the outcome. This natural solution will add a wonderful scent and flavor to any recipe.