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I have a half-gallon of pure vanilla.... questions abound!

  • Tehama Mar 30, 2008 08:07 AM
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My friend just returned from Mexico and gave me a half-gallon of pure vanilla extract. What on earth can I do with that much vanilla?

And, how long does vanilla keep? I've only ever had smallish bottles before....

Thanks, everyone!

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  1. It's alcohol based, so as long as you keep it sealed the flavours should keep indefinately.

    1. For many years, Mexico has produced very little vanilla extract, instead producing a synthetic vanilla, and for a while, using an additive was toxic to lab animals.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Alan408

        OK- that is scary. Though most of the label is in Spanish, there is a little disclaimer thing on the bottle that says "this product does not contain coumarin" I wonder if that is what you are referring to? The ingredients appear to be vanilla beans extracted in water, alcohol, and corn syrup now that I am reading closely.

        1. re: Tehama

          Coumarin is toxic and know to be a additive in Mexican vanilla.

          http://www.vanilla.com/html/facts-mex...

      2. Here's an article you may want to read. Like Alan, I've heard stories about "bad" vanilla from Mexico, especially if it seems too cheap to be true. This article talks about the toxin.

        http://www.gourmetsleuth.com/vanilla.htm

        1. Once you determine that it's OK (sounds like it is): I buy vanilla extract by the quart and it takes me about 5 or 10 years to use it up (even though I free pour it into everything!), it's still as potent as day one! So one less worry.

          1. Years ago I bought a large (quart, maybe?) bottle of vanilla in Mexico for not very much $$$. Using it at home, I decided that it had a really weird non-vanilla-ish taste. More like chocolate and/or cinnamon. I finally decided it I didn't like the flavour and now I only use it as an air freshener - a few drops in a kettle of water on the wood stove smells quite lovely. The bottle SAID pure vanilla, but it sure didn't taste right.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Nyleve

              Nothing wrong with it and it will last for years.

              IF....

              it is clearly labeled "coumarin free".

              I have a quart that I fill a small bottle with. That way I'm not opening the larger bottle every time I only need a 1/2 tsp.

              It's good stuff.

              There are a few brands that I like. I think Molino is one of them.

              1. re: Nyleve

                I buy cheap vanilla essence and use it for cleaning. If I can't get a smell out of tupperware containers even after a good scrubbing, I mix water, vanilla essence and maybe a bit of dishwashing liquid and leave it for 24 hours. It's the only thing that can get rid of the smell of curry. My neighbour says she puts some in the water she mops her tiles with; says it gets rid of the smell of her four dogs.

              2. a while ago i decided to try adding vanilla into savory dishes and was thrilled with the results. if it isn't overdone it can add a nice floral complexity to "tropical" dishes... a nice balance to heat.

                1. after reading these posts, i'd have some tested by a lab!