Safeway Imitation Vanilla-ethylene glycol-for bakers
I found 2 bottles of this stuff in the back of a shelf, 8 ozs each, so I had a total of a pint of the stuff. I probably got them on sale for a buck each; still, I wondered why I had bought them in the first place. Then, I read the ingredients. The solvent, rather than alcohol, was ethylene glycol. Voila!! This is baker's vanilla.
See, problem with vanilla, whether real or fake, is that when you put it in a cookie or cake and stick it into the oven at 350 degrees or so, all of the alcohol bakes off along with the vanilla flavor it was carrrying (this is why baked goods with vanilla smell so good when you bake them: the good flavor is in the air and not in your cookie or cake). Ethylene glycol does not flash off at ordinary oven temps like alcohol, so it keeps the vanilla flavor in your Toll House cookie.
So, this is one case where the fakey, chemically, nasty sounding stuff is actually better for your cakes and cookies and brownies than the real/natural stuff.
So there. This odd tid-bit brought to you by someone marginally involved with factory-production B&P.
Please, this applies to baked goods only. For desserts, custards, sauces, etc, skip the extract and go directly to the vanilla bean; Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Collect $200.
Nothing like being a few years late on my reply but, I just came across this post searching for something on google.
I'm right there with Watkins double strength vanilla being the best! Besides beans, Watkins double strength is all I use in my baking, and thats been a good many many years! I have both clear and regular & use them depending on what I'm making. I've tried a few pure vanilla's and have not found any of them work any better than Watkins.
Watkins double strenght stand up to baking just fine, flavor never fades. All the "expert" studies that pooh pooh away about artificial vanilla being inferior have not included Watkins in the study. I suspect its because Watkins is not readily available in stores, you usually have to find a Watkins rep to buy it. I know I still do. Anyway, thats my two cents on this. Studies, tests, are moot when it comes to Watkins double strength.. Its the best!
Jerry, I remember having a discussion about vanilla "real v. fake" eons ago before this board was changed.
After years of using the pure real stuff, I once had something my mother-in-law made with Watkins Double Strength Imitation Vanilla. I was surprised and did a side by side test with whipped cream. I was shocked that something labeled imitation could flavor something as good if not better than the real thing. But it was true.
This is one instance where I totally disagree with the "television" chefs who admonish viewers by telling them to only use pure vanilla because it is better. I don't think it is better. Different, yes, not better.
I agree that a scraped vanilla bean beats extracts of both persuasions.
Just my opinion. Purists will disagree. I was once in that camp, too.
I did not mention the most important part: if you go to amazon or other online retailer, you can get a half gallon of Tone's fake extract for about fifteen bucks; compare that to typical bottle of Nielsen-Massey.
In 1995, Cook's Illustrated made a name for itself by doing such a high profile taste test of real vs. fake extract. No one, not even the pro pastry chefs included, could tell the difference. To this day, my experience is totally in accord with this unusual result.