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Vanilla: Anything but Plain

By: Jeb Gleason-Allured
Posted: October 21, 2011, from the November 2011 issue of P&F magazine.

“Vanillin, on its own, is one-dimensional, but vanilla fl avor is highly complex,” said Mike Fasano (David Michael & Co.) during a presentation at the recent joint meeting of the Chemical Sources Association and Society of Flavor Chemists.a The complexity of vanilla is derived from the ~400 components identifi ed in the extract to date, including sulfur compounds. While advanced analytical work continues to decode the components of vanilla, its standard of identity in the United States remains unchanged. This standard, Title 21—Food and Drugs, Section 169.175, states in part:

[V]anilla extract is the solution in aqueous ethyl alcohol of the sapid and odorous principles extractable from vanilla beans. In vanilla extract the content of ethyl alcohol is not less than 35 percent by volume and the content of vanilla constituent, as defi ned in 169.3(c), is not less than one unit per gallon. The vanilla constituent may be extracted directly from vanilla beans or it may be added in the form of concentrated vanilla extract or concentrated vanilla flavoring or vanilla fl avoring concentrated to the semisolid form called vanilla oleo-resin.

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