Vanilla Extract Alcohol Content
We’ve recently been writing several posts on the subject of vanilla extraction, so I decided to stay in that area and write a brief post about Vanilla Extract Alcohol Content. There is a surprising amount of misinformation and confusion about this, and it has lead to people frantically searching the internet for answers. Instead of regurgitating the same old info, I have re-read the FDA requirements in detail, and I’ve included the most relevant data in the post below.
Are you interested in making your own extract? Make sure you read my post on Choosing the Best Liquor for Vanilla Extract.
Our LGB Vanilla Bean Extract
We always make sure to follow all of the FDA’s rules including vanilla extract alcohol content regulations. My current favorite product to bake with is our Madagascar Vanilla Bean Extract. We actually leave the premium vanilla beans inside the bottle so the alcohol can continue its extracting magic. You can see & taste the difference!
VANILLA EXTRACT ALCOHOL CONTENT | REGULATIONS
Alcohol plays a central role in extracting the powerful compounds that make vanilla famous. You can learn more about this process and the FDA requirements below. I’ve tried to write this post in a fun way that will help you learn about the current alcohol regulations and why they are in place.
IMPORTANCE OF ALCOHOL FOR EXTRACTION
The reason that there are content requirements for alcohol in vanilla bean extract is due to its important function. The alcohol has the huge responsibility of extracting all of the wonderful compounds and flavors from the vanilla bean. This is especially true for natural vanilla bean extracts like ours. Our vanilla bean extract currently only has two ingredients, liquor & vanilla beans. This simple but powerful pairing makes a great flavor profile that takes desserts, coffees (or lattés if you’re like me), and any other food that needs the power of vanilla.
FDA REQUIREMENTS FOR VANILLA EXTRACT ALCOHOL CONTENT
Now that you’ve learned the importance of alcohol, let’s move on to the good stuff. The FDA has an entire section dedicated to vanilla extract rules & regulations. Don’t worry, I’ve read it for you to save you the hassle! The very first paragraph of this section §169.175 deals with the concentration of different ingredients in the product. The alcohol requirement may change in the future, but I’ve included it below:
The current vanilla extract alcohol content requirement is “not less than 35 percent by volume.”
We recommend using or selecting an extract that uses ~ 40% alcohol by volume (aka 80 proof). This concentration does a great job of extracting the compounds and avoids the burning sensation of higher proof liquors. Vanilla extracts that don’t contain enough alcohol take longer to age and extract the delicious flavors and aroma. We follow this same 40% rule for the liquors that we use in our extracts.
VANILLA EXTRACT ALCOHOL CONTENT | CONCLUSION
Now you are a Lone Goose Bakery certified expert specializing in vanilla extract content requirements, or at least you’re close! Now you know that vanilla extract alcohol content requirements are straightforward, but the actual concentration can vary between brands. If you are curious and it isn’t listed open the product description or label, feel free to reach out to the manufacturer. Fortunately, the powerful flavor and aroma largely overpowers the alcohol taste, as long as you follow my post on Properly Aging Vanilla Extract.
Make Your Own Vanilla Extract
If you want to harness the power of vanilla extract for yourself, check out our vanilla extract kit. It makes a great gift for a loved one that bakes or you can keep it for yourself. I’m around vanilla all the time, and I still enjoy the process of making my own extract. This kit contains everything you need, just bring the alcohol 😉
Do you have any comments are questions regarding vanilla extract alcohol content? Please share your perspective by posting a comment below. Your unique comments always add to these posts and are appreciated by our Lone Goose Bakery Team (we read every one) and our dedicated community of readers.
Does the alcohol burn off during baking?
Great question Justine! I actually just read a 1992 USDA article that analyzed the amount of alcohol that evaporates during cooking vs baking. The conclusion was that baking caused more to evaporate than flaming, but it mostly depends on the temperature and amount of time the alcohol is heated. Baking @ 375 F for 25 minutes resulted in an alcohol reduction of ~50%. Since most recipes call for a minimal amount of vanilla extract spread throughout, alcohol per serving would be extremely small.
I had no idea about all of the requirements for vanilla extract, who would’ve thought?!?
I always thought that baking burned off all of the alcohol, and this is very interesting. The amount of detail and research you do is amazing, keep up the good work.
Thanks for reaching out Brandy, and we will keep writing!