All questions
67 answers 54259 views
Cathybarrow_allrecipes_%c2%a9_2014
MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

added about 4 years ago

I love the double strength vanilla from Penzeys

New_years_kitchen_hlc_only
AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

added about 4 years ago

I really like Penzey's too, for baking, but for dishes where you can really taste the vanilla, I'm totally hooked on Mexican vanilla, which has a much more complex, somewhat woodsy flavor. I am away from home right now, but will post the name of the brand I use (made from vanilla beans from three different places in Mexico) when I return.

P1020611
added about 4 years ago

I've used Mexican vanilla and agree, it's wonderful. I haven't tried Penzey's double strength and am now intrigued.

New_years_kitchen_hlc_only
AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

added about 4 years ago

The brand I use is "La Vencedora," which has no alcohol, preservatives or "coumarin" (an artificial flavoring agent used in Mexico, and apparently banned by the FDA). Beans from Veracruz, Tabasco and Chiapas are used to make it. As noted above, it's amazing stuff. The bottle says that it is "concentrated flavoring (four fold). But who knows to what they are comparing it. A four ounce bottle costs just about half of what the Penzey's double strength four-ounce bottle costs. I like the Mexican better than that made from Madagascar beans (as Penzey's and many others are) because its flavor is much richer and more complex.

Pic
added about 4 years ago

My favorite is Baldwin's Pure Vanilla Extract. According to them "Baldwin's Pure Vanilla Extract uses only the best, most flavorful and most expensive variety of bean-the Bourbon Vanilla Bean from Madagascar." I used to buy it in their old counrty store in West Stockbrisge, MA.

Dsc_0675-x2a
added about 4 years ago

I have loved the flavor of vanilla from the large bottle I purchased in Mexico; I do know if coumarin was added in the processing, but hope not.

Monkeys
added about 4 years ago

I just got a bottle of Nielsen Massey pure vanilla bean paste. You use it in the same amounts as vanilla extract but it gives you the teeny little seeds. It's amazing.

Me
added about 4 years ago

Mexican Vanilla is my go-to vanilla extract, but now I want to try the vanilla bean paste monkeymom recommends!

Image
drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

added about 4 years ago

I'm a Penzey's girl--fortunately they have a store in my neighborhood!

New_years_kitchen_hlc_only
AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

added about 4 years ago

I bought the Nielsen-Massey recommended by Amanda, to use in my favorite banana bread recipe. I really could tell the difference. It's excellent!! I like the other extracts made by that company, too. Now, I need to find the vanilla paste . . . . ;o)

Dsc03010
added about 4 years ago

I have four bottles of vanilla in my cupboard-- good old McCormick, Nielsen Massey, a bottle of something that my daughter-in-law's mother brought back from Mexico -- I don't know what it is because a granddaughter peeled off the label -- and a bottle of Wilton imitation clear vanilla. I use the Wilton clear vanilla for wedding cake buttercreams that need to be pure white, and for Russian Tea Cakes, Mexican Wedding Cakes, Melting Moments or whatever you call them; the McCormick is for fudge, chocolate cream pie and oatmeal, peanut butter or no-bake cookies; the good stuff is for brownies, ice cream, pound cakes, sugar cookies, pecan pie and anything with coconut. I don't think it's a matter of one vanilla being better than another; I think it's more a matter of taste and the recipe being used. Try this when you have the time: divide a cookie recipe in half and use a different vanilla in each half, then bake. Do the same thing for something that isn't cooked, like icing. See if you think there's a difference, then challenge others to do the same.

Default-small
added about 4 years ago

Nielsen-Massey makes a three pack of 2oz samples of Mexican, Madagascar Bourbon and Tahitian. Sold exclusively by Williams-Sonoma in their stores and on their web site http://www.williams-sonoma.... Not inexpensive. But if you want to try the differences, it is a simple way. Then go buy a larger bottle of your fave.

Default-small
added almost 4 years ago

Costco sells a 16 oz bottle of Bourbon Madagascar Vanilla for about $8, about 1/3 the price of McCormick. Works for me!

About
added almost 4 years ago

i'm also a fan of Nielsen-Massey and use both the extract and the paste depending on the dessert. The ground vanilla bean paste is a fantastic alternative to expensive beans - both in terms of flavor and visual.

Picture_2
added almost 4 years ago

A friend brought back a bottle of Mexican vanilla for me from one of her trips, and I'm itching for her to go back. I don't remember the brand now, but the bottle actually says it doesn't contain any coumarin. I've used the Nielson one before as well and liked that, too.

Default-small
added over 2 years ago

Yep—as a Mexican, I agree whole heatedly. It's the best, very potent, and should have a label with little to no English on it. And very dark!

New_years_kitchen_hlc_only
AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

added almost 4 years ago

I noticed the last time I was at Penzeys that they now have a Mexican vanilla. Haven't tried it yet, though I plan to when my current bottle is nearly done. (I'll do a taste test!!) You can get the Penzeys online. ;o)

Cakes
added almost 4 years ago

I did get some Mexican vanilla through customs a few years ago, but failing that, I use the Costco vanilla and am happy with it.

Default-small
tes
added almost 4 years ago

I make my own. It's cost effective, extremely easy, delicious, and nerdy. The laziest path includes ebay (for a handful of fresh, fair-trade beans for about $10), a food processor (for maximum extraction), and vodka (because despite how much everyone likes bourbon vanilla, clear liquor is best for making the real thing at home.) Here's a good link:

http://www.instructables...

Dscf2141
added almost 4 years ago

I echo tes, I like homemade. You can really control the amount of vanilla beans in the extract. I use everclear (151 proof), polish grain alcohol (151 proof), or vodka. Whatever I have at the time. I dilute the everclear/grain alchohol to 100 proof. Then I soak the beans (2-3 per cup of extract in a little bit of the alcohol to soften), Process in Vita Mix on low, and add (using funnel) simmering alcohol to an empty liquor bottle. Shake daily for a couple weeks, then rubberband some cheesecloth to the top of the liquor bottle and pour into about 8 oz swing top bottles. That way they are ready for gifts.

Birthday_2012
luvcookbooks

Meg is a trusted home cook.

added almost 3 years ago

I luv that you have everclear, polish grain alcohol around.

Birthday_2012
luvcookbooks

Meg is a trusted home cook.

added almost 3 years ago

what are swing top bottles?

Default-small
added over 2 years ago

Does the vodka make a big difference in taste?

1390710_10151917400148928_1193325941_n_1_
added almost 4 years ago

I also make my own vanilla extract. Just take a mason jar, split and scrape two vanilla beans, and fill it to the brim with vodka. Then keep the jar in a dark place and shake it once a day for a month. Then whenever it gets low fill the jar up again with vodka. Also, America's Test Kitchen said McCormick Vanilla Extract was the best.

Pict0361
added almost 4 years ago

@Tes: it's called Bourbon Vanilla not because that's the liquor used in the infusion, but rather because that was the name of the French ruling family that had re-named Madagascar "Ile Bourbon." Madagascar is where the beans are grown. I usually use vodka myself but decided to use white rum this time.r

Default-small
added almost 4 years ago

Penzey's double strength vanilla is the best, but frankly I prefer to use vanilla beans instead. The flavor is just so much better.

Mail
added almost 4 years ago

I've had great success with Trader Joe's brand. What or who is Penzey? I live in NYC and I'm not familiar with this name.

Birthday_2012
luvcookbooks

Meg is a trusted home cook.

added almost 3 years ago

can shop at penzey's at grand central market, it's original store is in wisconsin

Rhonda_jan_2010_016_cropped
added almost 4 years ago

I cannot believe no one mentioned Watkins brand Vanilla. They are famous for their vanilla! They have also been around for over 100 years! Find online or from a local sales associate. Also, some of your large grocery chains are starting to carry a few Watkins products!

Default-small
added over 2 years ago

You can buy Watkins Vanilla now at Cracker Barrel if you have one. They don't all have it yet but you can call first to check.

Default-small
added almost 4 years ago

@isabelita, there is a Penzy's in Grand Central Market. They are a wonderful spice shop with first rate herbs, spices, and extracts.

Default-small
added over 2 years ago

that one is closed, there is another spice market there now.

Mail
added over 3 years ago

Thank you Witloff, I'm headed to Grand Central Station.

Anita_date
Anitalectric

Anita is a vegan pastry chef & founder of Electric Blue Baking Co. in Brooklyn.

added over 3 years ago

I get by buying cheap (but real) vanilla extract and sticking leftover vanilla beans in after the seeds have been scraped out and used for another recipe. After a few days it is money.

Has anyone ever tried making homemade bourbon vanilla? I really want to try that!

Default-small
added almost 3 years ago

Homemade is the best! I use whiskey and 3-4 vanilla beans (split and scrapped) per pint of booze.

Birthday_2012
luvcookbooks

Meg is a trusted home cook.

added almost 3 years ago

A friend brings me vanilla in big bottles from the Dominican Republic. Better than anything I've ever bought. :)

Farmer's_market
added almost 3 years ago

Just fyi - I also mostly use Nielsen-Massey; but I often find it at Marshall's, or TJ Maxx, or other similar stores, for close to half the price of e.g., Williams Sonoma. Finding it can be kind of hit or miss, so when I see it, I buy 2-3 bottles.

Default-small
added almost 3 years ago

I also make my own. The recipe I use is southern and calla for cognac. I usually use VSOP brandy. It makes beautiful gifts.

Default-small
added almost 3 years ago

Buy a bottle of Maker's Mark Bourbon or similar split several good quality vanilla beans and drop them in the bottle. Leave in a dark space for a couple weeks agitating frequently and you're done. Haven't bought extract in years.

Default-small
added over 2 years ago

Make your own. Soak vanilla beans in vodka.

Pict0361
added over 2 years ago

Add your answer here

Junechamp
ChefJune

June is a trusted source on General Cooking.

added over 2 years ago

I only use Nielsen-Massey Vanillas. I prefer the Bourbon Madagascar. When I'm teaching a baking class, I often also bring a bottle of McCormick along and have the class sniff both. Then I let them choose the one they want to use. Nobody chooses the McCormick.

I contend there's quite a difference in quality of vanillas, and it's best to do research yourself.

Default-small
added over 2 years ago

I really don't care for McCormick's vanilla. I've thrown out every bottle I've ever bought! My favorite store bought is Adam's. I also like the vanilla I bought in Mexico. Some of these mentioned I've never heard of!

How_to_make_a_custard_part_1
Shuna Lydon

Shuna is a pastry chef in New York City and author of the acclaimed blog Eggbeater.

added over 2 years ago

Vanilla should be expensive. If it's not, it's been messed with a bit, or it's not exactly what it says it is, or something else. Like saffron, vanilla is incredibly difficult to produce and passes through many people/governments' hands and is often tampered with to profit a scoundrel.

Read the chapter on vanilla in The History of the Senses, a book by Diane Ackerman or check out Patricia Rain's website (you can buy real vanilla through her) to learn more of what I'm talking about. http://www.vanilla.com/

All this said I trust Nielsen-Massey as well, but I never buy the Tahitian.

If you want to buy vanilla beans, know that they should be shriveled up, not wet & plump, and THE WHOLE POD IS EDIBLE! Never "discard" the pod. I have written about how to get the most out of your vanilla pod on my blog: http://eggbeater.typepad...

Making your own vanilla extract is more expensive than buying it. It depends how much you use... in the bakery we go through almost a gallon a month. The paste is great but it *does not* replace extract in certain recipes, like chocolate chip cookies-- whose flavor relies heavily ion Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Extract.

I bet you didn't think this simple question would get so many detailed answers, eh? Vanilla, and the plant that bears it, is endlessly mysterious & fascinating.

Default-small
added over 2 years ago

In a brand new love with Rodelle extract. It is gourmet!

Default-small
added over 2 years ago

I bought a bottle of Nielsen Massey (albeit from Marshalls) and I wasn't impressed in comparisson to all the raves I've read here. It was comparable to the vanilla I typically have on hand from Trader Joe's that I use for protein shakes and the like, but not for baking.

Thus far I have yet to find anything that could hold a candle to the Mexican Vanilla that my mother brought back to the states with her on several occasions. Nothing has been as potent, flavorful, or vanilla-y as that stuff!

Does anyone here make their own?

Default-small
added over 2 years ago

Switched from Pensy's brand to Costco pure vanilla. About 1/4 the price and I defy anyone to taste a difference. Gonna try to make my own as noted above when this bottle runs out.

Default-small
added over 2 years ago

Penzeys is the best!

Default-small
added over 2 years ago

Here's one: Your own, i tried this when I could find really goof vanilla. You'll need one mason jar, six to ten vanilla beans, and any kind of plain vodka. Place vanilla beans in jar, add enough vodka to cover, place lid on jar and twist to make a goof seal. Place jar in a cool sark place for 4-6 months, adding vodka if it evaporates. It takes awhile to make but worth the effort and will last a goof year. Enjoy

Default-small
added over 2 years ago

I only use 'pure' vanilla, not extracts. To me the flavor is more intense.

Default-small
added about 2 years ago

Folks; About 97% of the vanilla you find on shelves and in products are imitation vanilla. It does not have to say vanilla, it can say vanillan, vanillin. It is made from wood pulp chemicals and is an accumulative poison. Do you really think that 16 pz. bottle from Mexico that says real vanilla on it is real? They have no regulations there and it is not USDA or FDA inspected. It takes a lot of work to make the real 2 oz. of it and I pay about 10 bucks or more for 2 oz. Labeling can be misleading and don't eat vanilla products from stores because bakers cannot afford the real thing. You will get nauseous, headaches, stomach aches and can damage the kidney and liver. Research it and you will see. Cheaper to find the bean and not real dried out beans that have sat on the shelves too long. You will get more. Any alcohol will do and just low percentage alcohol content is fine. Other brands might says it contains real vanilla but doesn't say pure. It is half of the poison mixed in. Even if it says does not contain this or that it is not real. Know what to buy or make your own.

Default-small
added about 2 years ago

Penzeys had a "Mexican Vanilla" which I bought but haven't yet tried, as I am waiting use up my double-strength. However, the Mexican was not listed on their website a few weeks ago.

Default-small
added about 2 years ago

Buying vanilla in Mexico can be dangerous since they have few regulations on their food and you cannot believe the labels. I make my own using grade B Madagascar beans and any alcohol that is between 70-80 proof. Open any bottle of alcohol pour off a little and put in between 2 to 6 beans per cup after splitting the beans. Shake on occasion and enjoy in 8 weeks to 6 months. Use left over beans to make vanilla sugar and on average they make about 3 batches of extract. So much cheaper and better than anything you buy in store. I am making batches using rum, vodka, brandy and bourbon, will be matching recipes with ingredients.

Default-small
added almost 2 years ago

I am a pastry chef of 30 years and have tried all vanillas. I love Rodelle Bourbon Madagascar Vanilla Extract. It has the best vanilla flavor and aroma. I used to use Nielsn but it is not has strong.

Default-small
added almost 2 years ago

For the past 15 yrs I've bought Rain's choice Vanilla . COMpany double fold Mexican Vanilla, They make Madagascar Bourbon, Tahitian extracts, powders, paste and much more. Previous a friend brought me vanilla from Mexico which can be iffy. I've been happy with them. I've bought Costco Vanilla before which is good but I prefer Mexican beans the best.

Default-small
added almost 2 years ago

For the past 15 yrs I've bought Rain's choice Vanilla. Double fold Mexican Vanilla, They make Madagascar Bourbon, Tahitian extracts, powders, paste and much more. Previously a friend brought me vanilla from Mexico which can be iffy. I've been happy with them. I've bought Costco Vanilla before which is good but I prefer Mexican beans the best.

Default-small
added over 1 year ago

Mexican is very good but Ugandan is the ultimate if you want that intense vanilla sensation. Ndali is the best brand. See
http://www.bespoke-foods...
I don't know who supplies Ndali in the US but maybe someone in the community knows of a supplier?

Default-small
added over 1 year ago

I have been using Nielsen Massey Vanilla from Madagascar for many years...I have used other brands before trying this one, but once I tasted this one I've never gone back to another brand. This is simply the best above the rest!
I have been using Nielsen Massey Vanilla from Madagascar for many years...I have used other brands before trying this one, but once I tasted this one I've never gone back to another brand. This is simply the best above the rest!




Default-small
added over 1 year ago

I have been using Nielsen Massey Vanilla from Madagascar for many years...I have used other brands before trying this one, but once I tasted this one I've never gone back to another brand. This is simply the best above the rest!
I have been using Nielsen Massey Vanilla from Madagascar for many years...I have used other brands before trying this one, but once I tasted this one I've never gone back to another brand. This is simply the best above the rest!




Open-uri20130327-23857-9j7qkw
added over 1 year ago

I prefer Rain's Choice vanilla from http://www.vanilla.com because the flavor has always been outstanding and I love supporting Patricia Rain in the work she is doing for farmers worldwide. Purchases there support her work, the farmers and the planet.

Cristina-014-web-final
added over 1 year ago

Since no one has mentioned it here yet: Madecasse (http://store.madecasse...)

Default-small
added over 1 year ago

The BEST vanilla I've ever tried is Rain's Choice pure vanilla extract, sold at https://www.vanilla.com/. They carry Madagascar Bourbon, Mexican and Tahitian extracts in both single-fold and double-fold. (Better than Nielsen-Massey!) They also carry fabulous 3-fold vanilla bean paste and beautiful vanilla beans.