Product Description: 4oz. jar of vanilla-bean seeds suspended in invert-sugar solution. Product is kosher-certified and gluten-free.
Ingredient List: Invert sugar, water, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, xanthan gum, acacia gum.
Test Kitchen Overview: There are many vanilla-bean pastes on the market and they all share a convenience factor. Instead of having to keep plump, expensive vanilla beans on hand – which can sometimes dry out if not stored properly – this shelf-stable product gives you the equivalent of vanilla beans in a jar, complete with the telltale seeds that are so desirable. LorAnn Oils suggests using 1 tablespoon of paste for every vanilla bean called for in a recipe. This amount is also equal to 1 tablespoon vanilla extract. We found that we wanted a little more than what was recommended in some recipes. The flavor is somewhat equivalent to what you would expect from a good quality extract with an added boost from the seeds. The flavor is rounder, fuller, more complex; more of a “complete” vanilla taste. Taste as you go and adjust amounts to your liking.
Pros: Easy and intuitive to use, this vanilla-bean paste is more economical than buying the actual beans. For instance, a common price for quality whole beans is two for $10. This jar costs about $8 and you get the equivalent of 8 tablespoons of paste, which can be substituted for 8 whole beans. It is shelf-stable for up to 36 months from its production date, and is marked with a Best-By date for your convenience. We get a bit of a thrill when we open the jar and see the thousands of vanilla bean seeds, it feels quite luxurious.
Cons: As this is not pure vanilla bean, you are adding some other ingredients to your baked good or dessert (although the amounts are minuscule). Also, this product is not easy to find in stores.
Suggested Use: Any time you want vanilla flavor with the addition of vanilla-bean flecks, this is a good choice. We love it for ice cream and shortbread, but the paste can also be used for cakes, cookies, puddings, etc.
Price at Time of Review: $7.95 through LorAnn Oils.
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Image: Peter Muka
Bakepedia received this product as a gift for review. All opinions are the reviewer’s own.