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Vanilla Extract

Plant Extract

Vanilla Extract

Other Name(s):

Vanilla planifolia Oil; Vanilla planifolia Bean Extract; Vanilla planifolia Oleoresin

Vanilla planifolia, the plant from which vanilla pods are gathered, is an orchid native to Mexico. The orchid is very sensitive to drought and fungal attacks meaning that annual production can vary dramatically. This is largely responsible for food and cosmetic brands choosing to use vanillin flavourings instead of true vanilla extract.

Is Vanilla Extract Faithful to Nature?


Natural vanilla extract is a delicious tasting and beautifully aromatic ingredient. It can be farmed sustainably, traded fairly and extracted safely without any ecological damage.

Benefits: Why is Vanilla Extract Used?

Helps with Anxiety

Vanilla is said to have an impact on the nervous system and can induce calm and relieve stress.

Good for the Heart

Vanilla may reduce cholesterol levels. Lower cholesterol helps prevent arterial inflammation and blood clots.

Beloved Fragrant and Flavour

Vanilla extract is sweetly fragrant and distinctively delicious, it has been loved over centuries as a fragrance and flavourant.


Vanilla extract contains vanillin, a polyphenol with antioxidant potential.

Vanilla extract is a go-to ingredient in many delicious baked goods, sweets, chocolates and more but can be found in natural body and beauty products from lotions, creams, shampoos, conditioners and body butters.

Natural vanilla extract is made steeping chopped up vanilla pods in an alcohol-water solution, ensuring the temperature is kept low.

The fragrant and flavourful compound found in vanilla called ‘vanillin’ is heat sensitive and cannot be extracted from the plant via steam distillation.

Madagascar is the world’s leading producer of vanilla with a total 2,926 tons in 2016.

Castoreum is a substance with similar fragrance and flavour properties to vanilla but it is most definitely not vegan-friendly. Castoreum is harvested from a specialised organ near the anus of the North American beaver. We couldn’t believe it when we read about it either...

Vanilla extract can be used to make food derived natural flavours, but more often than not if the ingredient list contains “natural vanilla flavour”, further investigation is required. It could be synthetically derived, nature-identical vanillin or it could be derived from the natural fermentation process. The natural fermentation process uses rice bran as a starting material and uses an unmodified yeast variety. Truly natural!

Using a relatively simple lab procedure, you can turn vanillin (the aromatic component of vanilla) into capsaicin (the ‘burny’ component of chili).

Notice: The information provided here is not intended as medical advice and is for educational purposes only.

Products Containing Vanilla Extract

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