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Vanilla Beans, Vanilla Extract, or Vanilla Paste?

Slofoodgroup Team April 22, 2020

Which Vanilla Bean Product is Right for You? Whole Vanilla Beans, Pure Vanilla Extract, Vanilla Powder or Vanilla Paste?

Choosing the right type of vanilla bean product for cooking and baking can be quite complicated at times. There are so many great options to choose from.  Madagascar vanilla beans, Tahitian vanilla beans, and vanilla from Uganda to just name a few.  These are whole vanilla bean options but what about the rest, vanilla extract, vanilla powder and of course vanilla paste?  Should these vanilla products simply sit idle against the wall hoping that they get the next dance or do you include them in your recipes?  The choice of which type of vanilla product is right for your baking really comes down to a few key factors.


What types of flavors are you trying to bring out or highlight in when baking with vanilla?

Is the vanilla the star of the show or just supporting role in your chocolate chip cookie sitcom series? Vanilla from Madagascar lend a familiar flavor profile to almost any pastry recipe and is the tried and true work house in most professional kitchens.  Tahitian vanilla is great with cold preparations and highly complimenting with fruits, chocolate, dressings, creams and other flavor combinations. For heavy batters such as cakes, cookies, and other doughs we recommend using real vanilla extract, vanilla paste or whole ground vanilla bean powder (if you are using real vanilla bean powder do not forget to bloom in your batter for 30-45 mins.)  For lighter batters such as cheese cake, icings, crème anglaise, custards etc., scrapped whole vanilla beans is the ideal choice.  Using the seeds from vanilla bean adds both a visual and flavor appeal that is unmatched. Using whole vanilla bean is the au naturel and does not have the added alcohol or sugar that most extracts, and vanilla paste is made with.  Using vanilla paste is perfectly fine too but it is like using salt versus unsalted butter and simply a matter of choice and preference.  

Do you mind if there are sweeteners added to your vanilla?

Most vanilla extracts and vanilla paste have sweetening agents added to them unless specifically stated on the ingredients. Sugar helps bring out the vanilla flavor, cuts the alcohol profile,  and acts as a stabilizer in many vanilla bean formulations.  Our pure three bean vanilla extract and Madagascar vanilla extract both have real cane sugar in them. Our no sugar added vanilla extract does not. According to the FDA, vanilla extract is clearly defined as defined as a solution in aqueous ethyl alcohol of the sapid and odorous principles extractable from vanilla beans with an ethyl alcohol content of not less than 35 percent and may contain one or more of the following ingredients:  

1) Glycerin.

(2) Propylene glycol.

(3) Sugar (including invert sugar).

(4) Dextrose.

(5) Corn syrup (including dried corn syrup).

 Vanilla extract can also be referred to as extract of vanilla and whatever the case, we alway recommend to check the label to make sure you are okay with what is added to your vanilla extract. 


If it is not whole vanilla beans, it is simply a value added vanilla product

We hate to break the news to you but it is true.  If it is not whole vanilla beans then further processing must take place. This in turn adds cost but also lends a bit of convenience to customers and cooking.  Extract of vanilla and vanilla bean paste are easy to use products that have a virtually indefinite shelf lives and incorporate quite well into any recipe.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with using any of these vanilla products. It is really a matter of choice of what best suits your vanilla needs for cooking and baking.  No matter what choice you make, Slofoodgroup is here to help delivering quality vanilla beans, vanilla extracts, vanilla powders and vanilla pastes for all your cooking and baking needs.  Shop our premium selection of world-class vanilla products today