Last updated: August 10, 2021

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Vanilla, along with chocolate and strawberry, is considered a very classic type of ice cream, but also one of the most popular. Bourbon vanilla is the best known. To bake Christmas biscuits or to refine a dessert like crème brûlée - bourbon vanilla is used in many ways.

If you like to bake yourself or are still looking for the right variety of bourbon vanilla for your recipe, our article is just right for you. We give you an informative overview of things you should consider when buying bourbon vanilla and then clarify common questions about this type of vanilla.




Summary

  • Bourbon vanilla is commercially available in a wide variety of variants. The offer ranges from vanilla bean to extract, but not every variant can be used for everything.
  • There are many different types of vanilla. Bourbon vanilla is the one we usually use and associate with the typical sweet taste.
  • Bourbon vanilla is the cheapest type of vanilla. The price is mainly influenced by the quantity you buy. However, you should also look at other factors such as sustainability when buying.

The Best Bourbon Vanilla: Our Picks

In the following, we present our favourites. We have selected a wide range of varieties so that there is something for every taste. This may help you with your purchase decision:

Buying and evaluation criteria for bourbon vanilla

To help you find the right bourbon vanilla for you, we have summarised criteria to help you make your choice. The criteria are as follows:

We will now explain why these criteria are decisive and what you need to consider.

Quality

By quality we mean how the vanilla is processed or in what form it can be bought. You can buy bourbon vanilla in the form of vanilla sugar, vanilla beans, vanilla paste, ground or as an extract.

Of course, not every type of texture is suitable for every application. So before you buy, you should be clear about exactly what you need the bourbon vanilla for and what you want to do with it. This way you can avoid making a wrong purchase.

Quality

As with many products, the quality of bourbon vanilla is an important purchase criterion. The quality of bourbon vanilla can be judged by looking at the pod. Ideally, the pod should be black-brown, even, oily and elastic.

If you buy bourbon vanilla that has already been processed, these characteristics are of course less obvious. However, you can pay attention to the labels. Products with descriptions like bourbon vanilla or natural vanilla flavouring contain real vanilla. Vanilla-flavoured flavourings contain synthetically produced flavourings.

Country of origin

Real bourbon vanilla, which can be bought in supermarkets today, comes mainly from Africa. It is grown in Madagascar, La Réunion, Mauritius and the Comoros. However, it originally comes from Mexico and Central America.

Alternative names for bourbon vanilla are also spiced vanilla or real vanilla. Bourbon vanilla is extracted from the seed pods of an orchid plant. The country of origin is usually irrelevant for the quality of the vanilla. Therefore, when buying, pay attention to other quality characteristics, such as those we have already mentioned.

Sustainability

Vanilla is becoming more and more expensive due to natural disasters, for example. However, the increased prices do not benefit the farmers who have to do the hard work and depend on the money. Only the main buyers benefit.

To support the farmers, you can make sure when you buy Bourbon Vanilla that it is Fair Trade. Fair trade is not the only important criterion for sustainability. Also make sure that the vanilla itself is grown sustainably and, if possible, has an organic label.

Guide: Frequently Asked Questions about Bourbon Vanilla Answered in Detail

In this section, we clarify questions that frequently arise in connection with bourbon vanilla. These can support your decision or simply serve as information.

Who is Bourbon Vanilla suitable for?

Vanilla is a sweet flavour known to almost everyone. Especially in puddings or in ice cream sundaes, vanilla is a well-known flavour. You can also find bourbon vanilla in many other sweet dishes or use it yourself in cooking or baking.

The pulp from the vanilla pod is best used for sauces or pastries. Vanilla sugar is especially popular for baking. You can use bourbon vanilla in many different ways to give your dish that familiar flavour.

Vanilla crescents are a traditional Christmas biscuit. The name already shows that the sweet spice also plays an important role here. (Image source: Neven Krcmarek / Unsplash)

What does bourbon vanilla cost?

The quality and the type of processing play into the price to a certain extent. However, the differences in bourbon vanilla, which is available in normal shops, are not so great here. Primarily, the quantity influences the price.

Price range Available products
Low-priced (5 - 10 €) 4 pods or up to 10 g ground bourbon vanilla
Medium-priced (10 - 20 €) 10 pods or up to 25 g ground Bourbon vanilla
High-priced (more than 20 €) More than 15 pods or more than 25 g ground bourbon vanilla

It is therefore best to find out how much vanilla you need before buying. Bourbon vanilla is not the most expensive of the vanilla types, but vanilla is generally the second most expensive spice in the world. Saffron, by the way, is in first place.

Where does the name Bourbon vanilla come from?

We have already talked about the country of origin in the buying criteria for Bourbon vanilla. This vanilla also owes its name to its origin. The island of La Réunion, or just Réunion, was called Île Bourbon before Napoleon and after Napoleon until 1848. This is why this type of vanilla is called Bourbon vanilla.

A common question is whether Bourbon Vanilla is related to Bourbon Whiskey and the answer is: no. The Bourbon from vanilla is traced back to Île Bourbon, the Bourbon from whiskey comes from the former Bourbon County in the USA, which in turn owes its name to the French royal family Bourbon.

Does Bourbon Vanilla contain alcohol?

Bourbon vanilla does not contain alcohol. What does contain alcohol, however, is the extract. Bourbon vanilla extract is produced by soaking vanilla beans in a spirit for a certain period of time. This acquires a darker colour and an intense flavour after a longer period of time because of the pods. In contrast to vanilla sugar, vanilla extract has a more intense flavour because the vanilla aroma can develop completely and is not displaced by the sweetness of the sugar.

For pregnant women, the alcohol content in dishes in which vanilla extract is used is harmless, as only a small amount is needed. However, if you want to be on the safe side, you can avoid vanilla extract during pregnancy.

Conclusion

Bourbon vanilla is a versatile spice that you can use to add a delicate sweetness to your dishes. It is universally popular and very easy to dose. Moreover, it is not only a popular flavour, but also a frequently requested fragrance - a real all-rounder.

When buying, you should make sure that the pods are sustainably grown and fairly traded so as not to support the exploitation of the farmers. Also think about how you want to use the vanilla. You can scrape the pulp out of the vanilla beans yourself or buy the pulp ready-made. For a particularly intense flavour, vanilla extract is best; for a particularly sweet taste, you can use vanilla sugar.

(Cover photo: BeaBeste / Pixabay)

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