Vanilla extract is the most common ingredient in almost every sweet treat, from cookies to ice cream! But is vanilla extract gluten-free?
This article will learn whether pure vanilla extract and imitation vanilla flavor are gluten-free and safe for those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance.
Is vanilla extract gluten-free?
Any baker will tell you the importance and requirement of this ingredient is essential in baking. However, people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity must be aware of which foods they can and cannot consume.
If a dessert is being prepared, a bottle of vanilla extract will be found at the workstation. It’s true: almost every dessert requires a tiny splash of vanilla extract to mask the odor of ingredients like eggs and to round out the other flavors.
It is a famous and essential ingredient in baking and sweets, but is it gluten-free?
Because of the purity of its ingredients, pure vanilla extract has a rich flavor. Unless the alcohol used contains gluten, it should be naturally gluten free.
What is vanilla extract?
Before we get into the vanilla extract, you should first understand what vanilla is. Contrary to popular belief, vanilla is a fruit, not a bean.
Vanilla is a small pod that grows in Madagascar. After harvesting, the pods are soaked in alcohol to extract the vanilla flavor.
So, pure vanilla extract has only two ingredients: vanilla and alcohol. Don’t buy it if it has other ingredients listed on the package.
That is, it has been mixed with different flavors and fillers to simulate true vanilla flavor, but it is not the real thing.
Real vanilla extract is pricey, but it is worth it! You don’t need much of it in any recipe, and a little goes a long way. Even if you bake frequently, one container of vanilla extract should last you about six months.
If you bake a lot, you can go through a lot of vanilla extract. If this is the case, perhaps only use it in raw, baked goods. You do not want to buy imitation vanilla extract or vanilla flavor.
Is pure vanilla extract gluten free?
Yes, pure vanilla extract is gluten free. It is made from vanilla beans, water, and alcohol. Vanilla beans are the fruit of the vanilla orchid plant, not grains.
While grain alcohols such as vodka, rum, or bourbon, etc., could be used to extract the flavor from the vanilla beans, most manufacturers use sugarcane ethanol.
However, it is unimportant which type of alcohol is used. Distilled liquors are gluten-free because the distillation process removes any traces of gluten.
Why is vanilla so expensive?
Pure vanilla, like saffron, is one of the most expensive spices in the world. Vanilla beans are the fruit of an orchid grown in tropical climates such as Madagascar, Mexico, and Tahiti.
They are harvested under only the best natural environmental conditions. Growing the beans is extremely labor intensive because each flower is hand-pollinated, and the beans are hand-picked once they are ripe.
There are two kinds of vanilla extract: pure and imitation (which includes clear varieties). There’s also a third option, vanilla flavoring, a mix of pure and imitation vanilla. However, I will classify those extracts as an imitation of this article.
Imitation vanilla has a strong flavor with a bitter aftertaste. This is due to the extracts they are made from – wood pulp or coal!
Pure vanilla, which contains vanillin’s flavor compound, is smooth and has an intensely robust flavor. For several months, pure vanilla extract is made by steeping vanilla beans in an alcohol and water solution.
The longer it soaks, the richer and yummier the flavor and the less bitter the aftertaste. The best extracts are matured for several years.
Is pure vanilla extract worth it?
Yes… but if you bake a lot and use a lot of extracts, it can get very expensive. If this is the case, then only use pure vanilla extract in uncooked recipes where the bold and rich flavor of the section can be detected, such as cold drinks, ice cream, whipping cream, or other hard type desserts.
For baked goods, use a less expensive vanilla extract (whether artificial or a blend), as heating will cause some alcohol to evaporate and lose some vanilla flavor.
Not all vanilla extract is actual vanilla!
While almost all vanilla extract is gluten free, cheap vanilla extract isn’t made from vanilla! It’s entirely artificial.
Most low-cost vanilla extract is made from coal tar or wood chips. Synthetic corn syrup and flavors are mixed to give the tar and wood chips a vanilla flavor.
It’s difficult to believe supermarkets would sell actual tar mixed with sugar, but that happens. Using vanilla extract to get vanilla flavor is a great shortcut, but only if you use REAL vanilla extract.
How to make vanilla extract?
While we have determined that most of the vanilla extract sold on the market is gluten-free and safe for celiacs and other gluten-sensitive people to consume, the truth is that it is an expensive spice! Did you know you can easily make your vanilla extract?
Here’s how to make pure vanilla extract at home:
Homemade Vanilla Extract (with alcohol)
Here’s how to make vanilla extract comfortably at home using an alcoholic medium.
- 3 vanilla beans
- 1 cup (70 proof) vodka
- Mason jar (tall and narrow) – To be used as an extraction vessel.
- Cut each vanilla bean in half lengthwise with a knife. Take care not to separate the two halves. Keep them connected at the bottom.
- Place the split beans in the mason jar. Pour the vodka into the pot until the beans are completely submerged. Close the jar’s lid tightly. Wrap the jar in a piece of black cloth.
- Place the jar in a cool, dark place for 2-3 months, shaking it every week before replacing it. You can also store it for 6-12 months!
- Your vanilla extract is now ready to use because 70 proof vodka contains approximately 35 percent alcohol and 65 percent water.
This alcohol-to-water ratio is used in industry. So, by using 70 proof alcohol, you get the purest vanilla extract available.
The flavor of the final extract will be more potent if you use a higher proof.
Homemade Vanilla Extract (without alcohol)
Do you dislike alcohol? Don’t worry! We have another simple recipe for you.
- 3 vanilla beans
- Water – ¾ cup
- Food-grade glycerin – ¼ cup
- Mason jar (tall and narrow) – To be used as an extraction vessel.
Split the vanilla beans with a knife, careful not to separate them.
Combine 3 parts water with 1 part glycerin in a separate container or jar.
Fill the mason jar halfway with glycerin and water.
Place the bottle in a cool, dark place for at least two months, shaking it once a week. You can leave it like that for about 2 months.
Your vanilla extract is now ready. It is free of alcohol and gluten and is ideal for your bakery needs.
Yes, vanilla beans are expensive, and the process takes time. However, it is healthy to allow glycerine to extract the rich flavor from the beans to give you something flavorful.
Both alcoholic and non-alcoholic vanilla extracts made at home have a long shelf life. They can last indefinitely, though they are at their best for up to 4-5 years.
Stockpile the liquid in an airtight jar and the vanilla extract in a cool, dry place to achieve the best results.
Is vanilla extract healthy?
Vanilla extract is beneficial in small amounts. Obviously, alcohol is not good for you, but most of the alcohol is burned off during the baking process. Vanilla is a type of orchid that produces fruit. Fruits, like vanilla, have some health benefits.
Vanilla contains vanillin, which has several economic benefits, including the following.
Vanillin is a powerful antioxidant studied on animals and in test tubes.
Although there is very little research on this, vanillin has anticancer properties.
Vanillin is also anti-inflammatory, benefiting those suffering from inflammatory and autoimmune conditions such as celiac.
Vanillin has neuroprotective properties, believe it or not. According to some studies, vanillin may benefit brain health and protect against neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
How to store vanilla beans?
Vanilla beans can be stored in a cool place and an airtight container in a cool, dark location for up to a year. The glass vial in which they are sold is ideal for storage.
They should not be refrigerated because it dries the pods out; you want them to keep their soft, pliable texture.
If you notice tiny iridescent crystals form on the pod, similar to frost, this is a sign of a high-quality bean. Those crystals are the oozing vanillin.
So, is vanilla extract gluten free?
Vanilla is one of the most popular flavors in the confectionery industry. It has a rich aroma on its own, but it also enhances and rounds out the fragrances of other ingredients in any dish. Pure vanilla extract is pricey, but it’s yummy and ideal for a gluten-free diet.
Other related articles:
- Are Corn Flakes Gluten Free?
- Is Buckwheat Gluten Free?
- Is Quinoa Gluten Free?
- High Fiber Gluten Free Foods
- Are Avocados Good For You?
- Cumin Nutrition And Benefits
- Health Benefits Of Ginger
- Are Garbanzos Good For You?
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