When we hear about vanilla it may be the picture of ice creams, delicious pudding or cakes coming to our mind. The palatable taste of vanilla makes us crave for more such foods. Vanilla is taken from a tropical orchid, it's the only edible fruit of the orchid family. There are many ways you can include Vanilla in your recipes and enhance the taste and flavor of your dishes. But there's always a confusion regarding which form of Vanilla is to be included as there are a number of variants available in the market namely Vanilla extract, Vanilla essence, Vanilla bean powder, Vanilla paste , Vanilla beans etc. Most of the time we buy Vanilla Essence from shops, without knowing the fact that this Vanilla Essence doesn't contain any natural goodness or flavor of Vanilla but an artificial (lab created) flavor only. So let's know the difference between Vanilla Extract and Vanilla Essence and also about the different from of Vanilla available in today's market.
Vanilla extract is purely made from Vanilla beans. It's one of the purest forms, so it can be a little bit expensive too. It's made from soaking Vanilla beans in a mixture of ethyl alcohol and water. The alcohol helps to fully extract the flavor. It works as a preservative and also helps to increase the shelf life of the extract. Vanillin, a molecule presents in Vanilla beans gives the extract its natural flavor.
Artificial Vanilla extract is also available in the market. In this variant no vanilla bean is used in the preparation of extract whereas a synthetic vanillin is created to match the flavor. It's less expensive than the purest Vanilla extract. But everything natural is better. The artificial Vanilla extract can sometimes have a slight bitter taste so pure extract is better for our taste buds and health.
Vanilla Essence is widely available and being used in the preparation of a lot of dishes in order to add flavor. But the fact is that vanilla essence is a chemically produced liquid with the flavor of Vanilla. Crude oil, Ethanol, water , emulsifiers, propylene glycol, coloring agent's etc are used in the preparation of vanilla essence.
Vanilla beans are being used in making Vanilla powder. The beans are dehydrated and then finely grounded to make Vanilla powder. It has more intense flavor than Vanilla extract. It can be used in preparing cookies, cakes and other food recipes. As it has a strong flavor a very small quantity is enough for adding flavor to the dishes. It's a natural sweetener. There are two variants of Vanilla powder is available in the market. One is the above mentioned pure Vanilla powder. Second is a sugar added variant which is being used in some countries as a substitute for regular sugar.
Vanilla paste is made from grinding the actual Vanilla bean pods. It's thicker than Vanilla extract and has a more intense Vanilla flavor. It's concentrated and should be used in moderate quantity in dishes. It's easy to use in dishes and it has the consistency of maple syrup. You can reach out to Vanilla paste if you want to see black Vanilla flecks in your dishes at the same time don't want to spend time scraping Vanilla beans.
It's straight from the mother nature. If you want to use the purest and the most intense flavor of Vanilla in your dishes, try to get some Vanilla beans. Take some soft and pliable beans and cut the beans in half. Split each half down the centre using a sharp knife. Scrape out all the seeds to use in recipes. One Vanilla bean is equivalent to about 3 teaspoons of Vanilla extract.
Health benefits of Vanilla
1. It promotes healthy digestion.
2. Can be used to ease respiratory conditions.
3. It's antibacterial nature helps in controlling acne.
4. Supports weight loss by suppressing appetite.
5. The strong and pleasant aroma can help people with anxiety problem.
6. The antioxidants present in Vanilla help prevent the breakdown of cells and tissues in the body and stimulate the body's natural regrowth.
7. It boosts body's immune system
8. It can lower stress.
9. Vanilla used as an essential oil can strengthen the hair.
10. It can reduce cholesterol levels.
Apart from a flavoring agent Vanilla can be moderately used in diet for the overall heath of your body. It's pleasant aroma can calm down stress, refresh your mind and revitalize one's energy.