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Adulterated Mexican Vanilla Extract

Some vanilla is not pure


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Vanilla Forms

© 2007 Peggy Trowbridge Filippone

Beware Adulterated Vanilla

Most of the adulterated extract comes by way of Mexico, where extracts from the tonka bean are added.

Tonka beans, a member of the pea family, have a high concentration of coumarin, which has a stronger vanillin-type aroma, but virtually no flavor. This makes it difficult for the average consumer to spot the fakes.

Coumarin was banned as a food ingredient by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1954 after tests showed liver toxicity in test animals. Some studies also indicate coumarin derivatives are an anticoagulant or blood thinner.

Yet, this adulterated vanilla extract still makes its way into the US, since there is no testing done by customs inspectors and the addition of coumarin is not illegal in Mexico. Look for a high alcohol content in unadulterated pure vanilla extract, since synthetics usually have little or no alcohol.

More About Vanilla and Vanilla Recipes

Vanilla Selection and Storage
Vanilla Beans
Pure Vanilla Extract, Imitation Vanilla, and Vanilla Flavoring Differences
Homemade Vanilla Extract and Cooking Tips
Beware Adulterated Mexican Vanilla
Vanilla History
Vanilla Recipes
Vanilla Photo © 2007 Peggy Trowbridge Filippone, licensed to About.com, Inc.


Simply Vanilla: Recipes for Everyday Use
Chocolate and Vanilla
Vanilla: The Cultural History of the World's Favorite Flavor and Fragrance
Herb Mixtures & Spicy Blends
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