Vanilla Products and Processes

News Everything vanilla 11.14.23

Vanilla products and processes

An Explanation

Vanilla is an age-old spice that through the centuries has captivated the world. Vanilla flavor and fragrance is abundant in grocery, department, and drug stores in applications ranging from food to beauty to fragrance and home care. Each of these different applications requires a unique process to obtain the highest amount of vanilla flavor or fragrance while being practical for the base material (such as wax, food, alcohol for perfume, etc.)

At Cook Flavoring Company, we specialize in food applications of vanilla flavor. This requires food grade solvents, of which there are relatively few, the most common being ethanol, water, propylene glycol, sugar, and glycerin.

Vanilla Extract

Vanilla Extract is a straightforward process whereby vanilla beans are soaked in an alcohol and water mixture until flavoring components within the vanilla bean are sufficiently transferred to the solvent. At Cook Flavoring Co., we only perform cold press extractions which take more time, but preserve more delicate flavoring components than an extraction which exerts either heat or pressure to speed up the process. Vanilla Emulsions are also made through an extraction process, but the solvent is either sugar syrup, propylene glycol, glycerin, water, and combinations thereof. (Our emulsions include our alcohol-free vanilla and our vanilla puree(paste)).

Vanilla Essential Oil

Vanilla Essential Oil is a common natural vanilla product utilizing one of the original methods of botanical processing: a steam still. In this process, water is boiled in a separate compartment and the resulting steam passes through a compartment containing the vanilla beans on rack. As the pressure builds in the still, a small amount of oil is released from the vanilla pods and collected with the cooled water. The water is then removed from the solution, leaving behind the vanilla essential oil. A variation on this method is to add the vanilla beans to the water while it boils. This variation can include more flavoring components but as with all simple steam distillation methods, can lead to an unpleasant burnt odor and taste from the still.

Vanilla Concrete and Absolute

Vanilla Concrete and Absolute is a highly concentrated product used mostly in perfumery. It involves a multi-step process that starts with running hexane, a non-food grade hydrocarbon solvent, through vanilla beans. This results in what is called a concrete, a waxy solid substance that has a substantial fragrance. This material, though very strong, is used mostly in solid perfumes (such as candles). The last step is to extract the concrete with ethanol to create vanilla absolute and then evaporate out the alcohol (though some residual alcohol will remain). This is the most concentrated form of vanilla currently available and has very small amounts if any of residual pigments and waxes. It is therefore extremely expensive in even a low vanilla market and used almost exclusively in extremely expensive perfumes.

Supercritical Extraction

Carbon Dioxide Supercritical Extraction of Vanilla is a relatively new way of processing vanilla beans that involves passing super-cooled liquid carbon dioxide through vanilla beans. As soon as the chamber is depressurized, the carbon dioxide will immediately evaporate leaving behind perhaps the cleanest vanilla process currently available. Carbon dioxide processing is on the cutting edge of extraction of botanical ingredients.

Though Cook Flavoring Company manufactures exclusively food-grade vanilla products for consumption, our goal is to educate our customers on the wonderful world of vanilla and reveal the mystery behind flavor creation. Not only to pique your interest but also to give you peace of mind about our products in your home and business. We strive always to make the highest quality products and deliver excellent customer service with transparency and honesty.