Vanilla extract is at the heart of baking. This essential flavor lifts and enhances its supporting cast of ingredients. Without vanilla, your cookies, cakes and pies would no longer be the star of your dessert spread. Pure vanilla has a strong, floral-like sweetness with hints of bourbon, rum and dried fruit. The quality of vanilla extract can vary greatly, so it’s important to know where your vanilla comes from and how it becomes a baker’s best friend.
Creating pure vanilla extract requires patience. Vanilla beans are grown from orchid flowers on a vine that takes three years to fully mature. The flowers are hand pollinated on the day the orchid blooms to ensure a healthy crop of beans months later. Vanilla beans arrive at our Maryland processing plant after they’ve been cured for several months to develop a deep, rich flavor. Other extracts may be made from beans harvested before they mature and receive less curing time, resulting in a harsh, medicinal flavor.
There are many ways to transform vanilla beans into vanilla extract. We feel our process is similar to crafting a bottle of fine wine and delivers the purest vanilla flavor. It begins with our long-standing relationships with experienced vanilla bean growers, who are committed to producing the highest-quality crops. Since seasonal weather changes can alter the condition and availability of the harvest, we batch blend Madagascar beans as well as beans from Indonesia, Tanzania or Uganda to achieve consistently pure flavor year after year. Our sensory scientists conduct numerous tests to ensure our distinctive bourbon/rummy flavor in every bottle.
Of course, capturing pure vanilla flavor is just not enough. We go the extra mile to ensure the pure vanilla taste and aroma is the same in every bottle. To do this, we select the highest grade beans that can be traced back to their source of origin. Each lot of beans is inspected over 30 times throughout the cultivation process. We maintain constant control during production to achieve a consistently-balanced flavor and aroma.
What does pure vanilla look like? Pure vanilla should have a dark, rich color similar to molasses. The aroma should be distinctly warm and intense with hints of bourbon and rum. Our pure vanilla extract is also non GMO, free of corn syrup and naturally gluten free.