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The Biggest Mistake You Can Make When Buying Vanilla

Vanilla Cream Fruit Tart

Be it in buttercream frosting or luscious layer cake, we’ve all used vanilla extract at some point in our baking endeavors. And since the bottles come with a big price tag, we’ve even found thrifty ways to use every last drop. However, there may be one crucial mistake your making when picking up a bottle of vanilla from the store: buying imitation.

Imitation Vanilla vs. The Real Deal

Apart from price, there are several key differences between imitation and pure vanilla. To start, manufacturers can artificially create vanillin (the compound responsible for vanilla’s iconic scent and flavor) without an actual vanilla bean. While this alone might not give pause to some, bakers should take caution when using imitation vanilla as the flavor tends to bake away in the oven more easily than true vanilla. In fact, you may have to use twice as much imitation vanilla to get the same flavor as pure vanilla.

Editor’s tip: A good quality vanilla (like this one from Nielson Massey) will give you more bang for your buck.

How to Find Quality Vanilla at the Store

Luckily the FDA has strict laws for labeling vanilla. Here’s how to decode the vanilla you see in the …read more

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