To make vanilla extract, you must first take alcohol and dissolve vanilla beans into it. This will create a dark liquid that is full of the powerful aroma of vanilla. Because of how it is made, all vanilla extracts are very high in alcohol. This will evaporate when it is exposed to high temperatures, like when baking. Though it smells like artificial vanilla flavor, it is very different. Artificial flavoring is made from a chemical that is extracted from wood and coal tar. For this reason, you will find that vanilla extract has a richer flavor and can offer some health benefits over the artificial stuff.
Is Vanilla Extract Bad for You?
No, vanilla extract isn't bad for you. You can even use pure vanilla products when you are pregnant without problem. Filtering and a long fermentation process is involved in making a vanilla bean extract. In fact, both the extract and the pod are composed of essential B-vitamins like pantothenic acid, riboflavin, niacin, thiamin and some minerals such as zinc, iron, manganese, potassium, magnesium and calcium. The vanilla plant also has polyphenols such as vanillin which is a chemical compound that produces a strong aroma. Consider the following benefits of vanilla extract:
1. Increase Libido
For centuries, vanilla has been considered an aphrodisiac. Recent aromatherapy studies indicate that it may boost testosterone in men, making it an aphrodisiac to increase sexual desire. Some even said it cured impotency. The aroma is said to incite satiation and pleasure.
2. Fight Skin Problems
For years, cosmetics have used vanilla for anti-aging benefits and fragrance. It can cleanse the skin, provide antioxidants, fight free radicals and slow aging. It is used in many creams, fragrances and lotions.
3. Heal Burns
Many traditional remedies for burn, wound or cut include pure vanilla extract. But speak to your physician before starting to use a home remedy for any injuries.
4. Relieve Coughing
To add both flavor and a mild anesthetic property, vanilla is used in many homemade cough remedies. It can cover the bitter taste of other medicines while soothing headaches and sore throats.
5. Help with Toothache
Pure vanilla is found in vanilloids which also include chili peppers and other capsaicin as well as eugenols such as cinnamon. These have compounds that affect the nervous system. They can provide pain relief, topical anesthetics and more. Is vanilla extract bad for you? How can it be when it can help with a toothache.
6. Treat Digestive Disorders
Many people have found relief from digestive trouble by drinking herbal tea infused with vanilla. Traditionally, people would drink water that had been boiled with vanilla beans to relieve vomiting, nausea, and stomach aches. The very smell of vanilla can help with nausea.
7. Enhance Mood
There is a long history of healers using vanilla extract as a sleep aid, antidepressant, sedative, aphrodisiac as well as flavoring. Vanilla is known to have the ability to affect brain neurotransmitters as well as hormones, not through studies but through decades of use. There are other herbs with scientific evidence for altering moods such as passion fruit, Valerian root and chamomile, so it could also be true for vanilla bean.
How to Make Homemade Vanilla Extract
- A large bottle of vodka (Potato liquor)
- 6 vanilla beans (whole) for each 8 ounces of the vodka
First decide the amount of vodka and place the correct amount of beans into the container and seal. You can slice each bean lengthwise, but no noticeable difference has been seen using this method. Make sure they are fully covered in the vodka and leave for a minimum of six weeks, although eight is recommended. Be sure to avoid direct light and warmth. The bottle needs to be shaken lightly several times to help with the process.
When kept cool and dark, your vanilla should last about a year. If you leave a bean or two, the flavor may continue to strengthen. Different flavor beans come from different areas. Madagascar is more common and known for a buttery, sweet flavor. Vanilla from Tahiti is more floral and fragrance from Mexico tends to be nuttier.
How to Use Vanilla Extract in Cooking?
With longer exposure to heat, the strength of the vanilla extract will dissipate. If you are adding to poaching liquid or custard, add it after it has started to cool. This will enhance the flavor. If yours is double strength, reduce the amount to avoid a heavy vanilla flavor. Here is a dessert recipe with vanilla extract. Now that you know the answer to "is vanilla extract bad for you", just have a try.
A classic and instant favorite, homemade vanilla pudding is one of the best comfort foods. This delicious recipe can be made and enjoyed in twenty minutes. After tasting this rich dessert, you will forget chocolate.
- Egg yolks (2)
- 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
- 2 ½ cups milk divided
- Teaspoon salt
- 3 tbsp. cornstarch
- 1 tbsp. butter
- ½ cup sugar
Add salt and 2 cups milk to saucepan. Sprinkle the sugar through but don't stir. Heat to a medium heat. Quickly whisk the remaining milk and cornstarch, then add egg yolks and continue whisking. Bring up to a full boil, remove from heat and then stir in the cornstarch and mix. You will see the pudding thicken. Return to heat in another minute and then remove it again, add butter and vanilla. Pour this into individual bowls for serving. Enjoy it warm!