It was much easier to create vanilla flavors years ago, when the vast majority of formulations were artificial or (at best) natural and artificial. The only standards of identity were for ice cream vanilla flavors — Category I, an all natural product; Category II, a blend of natural vanilla and an equal fold of vanillin; and Category III, the general realm of artificial vanilla flavors. In those days, all artificial vanilla flavors contained a repertoire of common ingredients that were dissolved in a few basic solvents and contained sufficient caramel color to give the impression of a natural extraction. Whatever concentration of natural vanilla extract it contained was miniscule at best, often from inferior Indonesian beans. The natural was often added just for label purposes.
How things have changed in just a few years!
Let’s review the basics that are still valid today. Fold is the term used to categorize the fl avor strength of all vanilla fl avors — natural, natural and artifi cial, and artifi cial. A fold of natural vanilla is defi ned as the number of units of vanilla constituent used to manufacture one gallon of fi nished product. The term unit of vanilla constituent is defi ned by the FDA in the Federal Vanilla Standards as the total sapid and odorous principles extracted from not less than 13.35 oz of vanilla bean per gallon of extract. The standard also states that the fi nished extract should contain at least 35 percent by volume of ethyl alcohol.