Beware Adulterated VanillaMost 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.
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