As you’re getting ready to bake that next batch of cookies for your kids or churn up the secret pint of ice cream you keep for yourself in the back of the freezer, there’s a good chance the recipe calls for pure vanilla extract. Similar to how salt enhances the flavor in savory recipes, vanilla enhances the flavors of sugar, milk, eggs and other ingredients in desserts. When it comes to baking, there is no other flavor that is more vital than vanilla. But if you’re like most home bakers you probably don’t give much thought to what vanilla extract you’re buying and using in your recipes. After all, it’s only a teaspoon or two. It can’t possibly make a difference, right? Actually, it does.
When it comes to vanilla extract and the outcome of your recipe, the quality of the vanilla can truly take anything from good to great. This is why Rodelle exists – to craft and source the world’s finest quality ingredients so you can turn meals into memories. Before you grab your standard vanilla extract let’s talk about what goes into making vanilla, why what’s in your vanilla matters and why using a product like Rodelle can make all the difference.
From bean to bottle. What is in vanilla extract.
Before you put that bottle of vanilla extract in your cart at the grocery store there is a long, complex process to get natural vanilla from a bean form to the beautiful, dark, aromatic liquid that is vanilla extract. Natural vanilla comes from the vanilla orchid. Originally from Mexico, the vanilla orchid grows in very specific conditions in just a few select regions in the world. Today, 70% of the world’s vanilla is produced in Madagascar which is where Rodelle sources most of its vanilla from.
In addition to specific growing conditions, the harvesting process is very complex. Vanilla is one of the world’s most labor-intensive crops, right up there with saffron. The vanilla orchid only blooms for 24 hours and must be pollinated by hand during that time, otherwise, it dies and is no longer useable. When a flower is successfully pollinated it yields one six-to-eight-inch bean pod which takes eight to nine months to ripen. The bean is then harvested and cured before being transferred to an extraction facility. The main chemical component that’s extracted from the bean is called vanillin. This natural flavor component is what’s responsible for the rich taste and aroma of vanilla. The higher the quality of the vanilla bean, the higher the vanillin content and the better the quality of the end product – vanilla extract. After all, pure vanilla extract should only have three ingredients: water, alcohol and vanilla bean extractives.
Vertical Vanilla: the secret to the best pure vanilla extract.
Rodelle has set the bar for flavor profile through proprietary processes that deliver consistent, premium-quality products. Rodelle is uniquely situated to do this because of its simplified, farmer-focused vertically integrated supply chain. There are very few vanilla producers doing this in the same way.
Since 2015, Rodelle has fostered direct working relationships with more than 7,000 vanilla farmers creating a farm-to-table vanilla extract that is traceable through farmer registration and stringent purchasing practices. Rodelle’s dedication to reducing the number of players in the long, complex chain and choosing to invest in relationships means they’re not only getting a higher-quality vanilla bean product but they’re also improving vanilla farmers’ quality of life by providing reliable jobs, offering competitive pay and maintaining superior working conditions.
Pure vs. imitation. You get what you pay for.
When you’re shopping for vanilla extract, there is a wide variety of options on the grocery store shelf. If you look closely, you’ll notice that some say, “pure vanilla extract” and some say, “imitation vanilla flavor” and there are even others that combine pure vanilla extract with other “natural ingredients” to make a vanilla product that is closely named to “pure vanilla extract” but not the real thing. There is also a difference in price between pure vanilla extract and those that imitate it. Depending on what you’re baking and who you’re baking for, you might be tempted to grab the cheapest bottle. Again, it’s only a teaspoon or two, right? While on the surface pure vanilla and imitation vanilla may look and smell the same, it is impossible to compare the two offerings.
Imitation vanilla is made using artificial vanillin, which is typically produced from coal tar or wood pulp as by-products of paper and petrochemical manufacturing. Imitation vanilla doesn’t have to undergo the complex and laborious growing and extraction process to get its “vanillin” which makes it extremely inexpensive to produce and flat tasting. But it also means you’re getting a lot more in your bottle than you may think and not in a good way. Pure vanilla extract, like what Rodelle offers, only uses the highest-quality vanilla beans and a hand-crafted process to produce a superior vanilla extract. When you purchase a bottle of Rodelle vanilla extract you’ll know exactly what’s in the bottle, where the beans came from and that each lot of vanilla extract is made from vanilla beans carefully chosen by vanilla flavorists and scientists. You’ll also know that your vanilla will have the same high-quality taste every time because of Rodelle’s craftsmanship and proprietary extraction techniques.
Taste the difference and make every day extraordinary.
For Coloradoans, one of the greatest things about Rodelle (besides the taste), is that you can have high-quality vanilla from a local company. While yes, their beans come from Madagascar, their state-of-the-art extraction facility and administrative offices are located in Fort Collins, Colo. It also means that premium pure vanilla extract is readily available at your local grocery, no need to run to a specialty food store or order in advance online (although you can also purchase on Amazon). You can find a store near you on Rodelle’s website here.
If you’re not much of a baker but still want to experience the difference premium vanilla makes, Rodelle partners with several local companies including Walrus Ice Cream in Fort Collins. We recommend the vanilla bean ice cream, made with Rodelle’s Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Extract.