Vanilla and vanillin: the difference simply explained

A plump pod of high quality.
A plump pod of high quality.

In various Desserts like ice cream, yoghurt, pudding or dessert creams, vanilla is now indispensable. It is often also Chocolate and cocoa products added to make the taste more rounded. However, chefs have discovered this spice for other dishes such as. Meat and fish dishes or vinegar.

Table of contents

  1. Queen of spices
  2. Complex process and high price
  3. Terms and what they mean
  4. Vanillin is not the same
  5. Vanilla sugar versus vanillin sugar (recipe for homemade vanilla sugar)
  6. How the consumer is tricked
  7. Live show at Gelatissimo 2020
  8. Summary
  9. Recipes with vanilla

Queen of spices

She is a Spicewhich is known to many people by now and without which our today's menu is unimaginable. Very often you can find it in various desserts.

Vanilla* becomes off fermented capsule fruits of very specific Orchids won. Pods are called pods in common parlance, even if it is not quite botanically correct. There is only 15 speciesthat are suitable for this purpose and even fewer of them are grown commercially.

The main area of cultivation is Madagascar and Indonesia. Réunionwhich gave the Bourbon vanilla its name because of its former designation "Isle of Bourbon", now plays only a minor role.

The island of Reunion offers ideal climatic conditions for cultivation and gave its name to the Bourbon vanilla.
The island of Reunion offers ideal climatic conditions for cultivation and gave its name to the Bourbon vanilla.

In addition there are for example the Tahitian vanilla* from the South Pacific region. Which, however, tastes somewhat different. More floral and less as we know them.

Complex process and high price

A great deal of manual effort is required before you end up holding the intense-tasting sticks in your hands. This starts with the manual pollination an, which becomes necessary outside Central America because of the lack of natural pollinators. In addition, one has only one day to pollinate the flower.

The costly treatment and that Fermentation processwhich then turn the green capsule fruit into the flavorful pod, also lead to the high cost.

Special pods are sometimes also marked individually. Like the one here with a
Special pods are sometimes also marked individually. Like the pod marked here with an "E" which is produced in a proprietary process invented by Escale Bleue.

However, the price is subject to wide fluctuations. A sharp rise the last few years have been marked by poor harvests. Unfortunately also the Food industry the price is rising more and more, as it has to cover its constantly increasing demand.

It is no accident that vanilla is the second most expensive spice in the world after saffron.

Terms and what they mean

At Jungle of designations in the food industry it's easy to get lost. But don't be afraid here, you'll get the hang of it very quickly.

1st choice2nd choiceGet your hands off me!
Vanilla*: here is to 100% real vanilla insideNatural vanilla flavour: comes to at least 95 per cent from vanilla, the remaining 5% may be other natural additivesNatural flavor: comes from various other natural raw materialswhich need not be indicated; it Tastes like vanillabut contains 0%
vanilla extract*: is obtained entirely from the pod, therefore up to 100%Aroma: is in most cases artificially produced and therefore contains 0%

Of course, the best way to use your cooking, baking and ice cream making real vanilla buys. It is recommended to stock up at specialized dealers, such as. Madavanilla*.

Vanillin is not the same

Vanillin makes the Main aroma of vanilla from. However, many other flavors contribute to it, so that the taste is unique. Nevertheless, many consumers are satisfied with the one-dimensional taste of vanillin.

In any case, it is not surprising that the aim was to produce this substance chemically and therefore cheaply. In fact, it was in... Germany (Holzminden), where there is End of the 19th century succeeded for the first time in producing vanillin synthetically.

Vanillin can be produced by two different processes. Either artificially through chemical production or in a natural way.

The chemical variation can be made, for example, from Waste from paper production can be synthesized. The second variant is usually represented by Microorganisms from natural raw materials such as sugar beet pulp. Then the package may state that "natural flavoring vanillin" is in there.

Vanillin is used very widely. From food, over medicines up to perfumes this flavouring is used. About the worldwide consumption of vanillin is twelve times higher than it could be covered by real vanilla. This also means that in most foods can not contain real.

Vanillin is never a full substitute for the taste of a real pod. However, the worldwide demand could never be covered by real vanilla.
Vanillin is never a full substitute for the taste of a real pod. However, the worldwide demand could never be covered by real vanilla.

Vanilla sugar versus vanillin sugar

Vanillin sugar is cheaper than real vanilla sugar and therefore often cheap to buy in large packages. Hardly a baking recipe that can do without. However, caution is advised, because often with still other flavouring substances in vanillin sugar is being helped.

Commercially available Vanilla sugar* is usually made from Sugar and ground pods produced. However, it is also allowed to add extract.

You can Vanilla sugar but also quite simply do it oneself. In addition a scraped Pod* infuse together with sugar in a jar (about 1 pod to 200 g of sugar). As a rule, when baking or making ice cream, any amount of scraped pods remain.

How the consumer is tricked

Seeing black dots as a sign of true vanilla can quickly lead one astray. Some manufacturers grind after all Pods. However, the flavor has already been extracted from them beforehand and thus the dots have no added value for the taste.

Some food producers or ice cream makers actually go so far as to simply take Imitation coffee grounds. If you want to know more, just read my article "Nine tips on how to recognize a really good ice cream parlor".

Very careful should be when terms other than those listed above is used. These are non-proprietary and can be used without restriction. „Vanilla"is such an example. Therefore, do not buy such products in any case!

Also from Images of the pod or flower on the package you shouldn't be fooled. The only way to be sure is to look at the ingredients list.

Therefore I have switched to no industrially produced ice cream to buy, but to make my own ice cream. Four good reasons to make his ice creamyou can find in another article.

Live show at Gelatissimo 2020

At the GELATISSIMO 2020 the ice professionals Federico Maronati and Filippo Zampieron have Live show given precisely on this topic. At the end there was still the Recipe to the vanilla ice cream prepared on stage, which of course you can find here further down can find exclusively.

The lecture

I'm sorry to say that the content did not exactly knock my socks off. The two maestri gave a lecture that nothing really new contained.

Unfortunately, some things were not quite correctly reflected or perhaps just poorly translated? Because an employee of Ballabeni Icecream was allowed to translate the Italian explanations into German in parallel. And you can't blame her, since that's certainly not an easy job.

In addition, we have in certainly five different variants learned the following two things:

  1. You have to be aware of your other Competitors in ice cream making differentiate. This can be achieved, for example, by real vanilla usedeven though it's more expensive.
  2. You have to give the customer communicate why the ball of ice cream is more expensive than with the competitor. However, this can also be used as Marketing be used to show that high quality products are being used. Of course you have to be aware that a higher price also more expectations the same effect.

These two "wisdoms" were rolled back and forth for what felt like 30 minutes. I think this train of thought is understandable even after the first time and is not completely innovative.

Ice cream making and sample meal

The prepared Milk and cream mixture (the vanilla should be able to release its aromas for at least 24 hours) was then only whisked egg and into the ice cream machine given. This first pasteurised the ice cream mass and then went on to the freezing process.

The special thing about this ice cream is the Lemon peelthat is admitted. That, as I've learned, is a little typical Italian. This is intended to further enhance the vanilla taste and soften the yolk taste.

The taste test was then also quite good. The Dazzling consistency. You definitely notice the professional ice cream machine. However, several - and I can only agree with this - found the Egg yolk taste too prominent and the lemony note is also something needs getting used to. Supposedly the taste would still change after a few hours in the freezer. I definitely have to test that again myself.

Recipe for vanilla ice cream by Federico Maronati and Filippo Zampieron

Filippo Zampieron writing down the recipe on the GELATISSIMO 2020.
Filippo Zampieron writing down the recipe on the GELATISSIMO 2020.

Now, if you're wondering what happened to the ingredient "Neutro" here is the explanation. I had to do some research on this as well. This is a powder that is supposed to improve the consistency of ice cream. It contains besides the known Locust bean gum however also various other Supplementswhich we actually do not want to have in our ice cream. Therefore, I was in retrospect but disappointed by the recipe.

A very tasty Vanilla ice cream recipethat comes without eggs or such additives, you can find on my page. Meanwhile I also have a vegan and sugar reduced variant developed.


I hope you are now more confident in the jungle of names and know the difference between vanilla and vanillin. The best thing let the vanillin keep your hands off her. For real pleasure should be Pods* or vanilla extract* buy. Or in a pinch you pay attention to the terms when shopping "ground vanilla bean" or minimal to "natural vanilla flavoring" in the ingredients list.

Recipes with vanilla

Classic vanilla ice cream without egg

Vegan and reduced sugar vanilla ice cream

Prince Pückler ice cream sandwich

Stracciatella ice cream

Classic walnut ice cream

Vanilla sauce

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