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Mar 4, 2005 02:12 AM

yuck! artificial vanilla do I use it up?

  • c

We take turns buying groceries and my list asked for vanilla extract for some scones and the likes. Imagine to my surprise whilst making crepes the extract wasn't the real kind! I already opened the seal by then and now have a large bottle of extract. My roommate pointed out that the artificial bottle was a lot cheaper than the real kind. Any suggestions?

The taste doesn't keep well even when making crepes.

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  1. Actually, for most uses, most people cannot tell the difference between artificial and genuine, and there is a mind over matter issue of perception when tasters know which is which. Use it freely where the vanilla is a helping flavor rather than the star player.

    1. Use it freely in baked goods. I agree with Karl S. that most people (including me) can't tell, especially in baked goods like cakes or cookies with so many other flavors.

      I would be a little more hesitant in something like a custard where vanilla takes a starring role and the product overall is a little more delicate.

      1. I work in a famous bakery in Boston and we always used all-natural vanilla in the past. We were forced to switch to artifical vanilla extract when our supplier was dropped, and no one can tell the difference in our baked goods - cookies, pastries, etc. Another idea besides baked goods is if you make your own whipped cream or buttercream, add some there... I also add some when I made french toast...

        (The only time I swear by natural vanilla is in vanilla ice cream - there's just no substitute!)

        1 Reply
        1. re: missL

          I work at a restaurant in Boston,where we still use vanilla beans in souffle base (and the management worries about food costs!) I say the same thing: if the vanilla flavor dominates, and/or essentially isn't cooked, like vanilla ice cream - then only real vanilla will do. Otherwise, artificial is so much cheaper.
          However, King Arthur's website is now advertising real vanilla for the same price it was a couple of years ago - a little les than half what it was selling for a few weeks ago!

        2. Cook's Illustrated magazine did a blind taste test of artifical vs. natural vanilla extract not too long ago, and found that the artificial tasted just as good, at least in most applications.

          1 Reply
          1. re: John Kent

            They also hate on Latini pasta, the most delicious dried pasta period. I am suspicious of them.

          2. It comes down to whether YOU like the taste of that artificial vanilla or not. If not then chuck it out. Just remember that tasting it plain, versus used in a recipe will make a big difference. Some brands of artificial taste bitter, some have an "artificial" taste, and others are so near to natural that it makes no difference.