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Old 09-29-2006, 02:59 PM   #1
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Question What vanilla to buy?

Do you have a favorite brand of vanilla? I was at WalMart this morning and found that they carry the Watkins Brand. They had 3 different types, Imitation, Pure and Double Flavor. There are so many different brands in the stores and so many different prices. Are they all pretty much the same? What do you recommend?

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Old 09-29-2006, 03:08 PM   #2
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I use only Pure Vanilla Extract, and I prefer the Bourbon-Madagascar from Neilsen-Massey. It's widely available at Williams-Sonoma on line and in their stores... or just google it.

When I was teaching regularly, in my baking classes I used to bring several vanillas to class for the students to try. We sometimes baked the same recipe with different vanillas. You CAN tell the difference! The stuff in the bottles with the red, white and blue labels in the grocery store may be "pure vanilla extract," but no way does it compare favorably to the Neilsen-Massey... (imo, of course!)
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Old 09-29-2006, 03:10 PM   #3
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I remember an episode of America's Test Kitchen's where they tested different types of vanilla extract. They mixed a measured amount of several popular and some exotic varieties with milk. The mix had a much stronger vanilla flavor than you would likely taste with any recipe. The results proved that they were all very similiar, and used in a recipe the difference would be even less noticable. That is my story and I'm sticking to it!
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Old 09-29-2006, 03:12 PM   #4
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Vagriller, if you haven't tested them yourself, why would you dispute someone who has?
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Old 09-29-2006, 03:12 PM   #5
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My favorite is Penzey's double strength.

Cook's Illustrated/America's test Kitchen did do a taste test a while back that contended that imitation vanilla was pretty much as good as pure vanilla.

IMO it's not, but I have used it in a pinch and it's not terrible.
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Old 09-29-2006, 03:16 PM   #6
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I have always used Watkins double vanilla, but I think I will try the Neilsen-Massey. You can tell a difference between brands. I just bought spice island brand pure vanilla, I don't know anything about it, but I hope it is good.
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Old 09-29-2006, 03:20 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChefJune
Vagriller, if you haven't tested them yourself, why would you dispute someone who has?
Are you referring to yourself or ATK? I'm not disputing with either, just posting what I saw, mmkay?
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Old 09-29-2006, 03:22 PM   #8
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I am with Jenny. I like the Penzey's double strength.

I love watching Americas Test Kitchen, but what they say is not gospel. I find that sometimes I agreee with their choices and other times I think they are way off base. Taste is very subjective so there is no right answer.
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Old 09-29-2006, 03:23 PM   #9
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IMO, I can taste a hugh difference between imitation vanilla and Bourbon-Madagascar from Neilsen-Massey. I started baking when I was a kid, in my cooking-challanged Mom's kitchen. She only kept imitation vanilla. When I moved out and started to keep my own kitchen, I started with store bought pure vanilla. I know only use the Bourbon-Madagascar from Neilsen-Massey. This vanilla is heavenly in cookies and whatever else you bake.

So to answer your question, no, all vanillas are pretty much not all the same. You get what you pay for. If you can afford it, try a very good vanilla.
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Old 09-29-2006, 03:28 PM   #10
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Never use the really cheap stuff from Mexico, as it often contains Coumarin, which is toxic.
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