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Rain's Choice Vanilla
Flavorful. Sustainable. Simply the Best.

I love your product! I'm amazed at how superior your vanilla is! - Des, Daily Grommet
Jun 25 2013

What’s the best vanilla extract?

So many choices. So many prices.
Are they all the same? What is the best vanilla?

which-vanilla-is-bestHave you ever stared at the vanilla extracts on the store shelves and wondered which  is the best vanilla extract to buy? In some respects, choosing a vanilla extract is like selecting a fine wine. How do you know which one to buy?

Read on for an insider’s view of vanilla extract, how to choose what’s best for you and why high-quality vanilla makes a world of difference in flavor.

The best quality vanilla extracts come with a price.

The simple answer for what is the best vanilla extract boils down to price. Vanilla is not cheap. And because it is so pricey (it’s the world’s most labor-intensive crop), customers are often put off by sticker-shock.  So stores try their best to buy the cheapest extracts they can find. That means most supermarket vanilla extracts — both brand name and store brands — while they may be pure vanilla, are usually of mediocre quality in comparison to the really fine quality extracts that are available elsewhere. This is also true in the big-box stores where bulk vanilla is fairly inexpensive.

“Rain’s Choice vanilla is hands down the best vanilla on the market! It took my cookies to a whole other level!” – Karen

The takeaway here is if you really want the best vanilla, you will have to get over sticker shock. And your best bet for finding it is to shop at a specialty food store or online from a reputable source. Yes, you will pay a little more, but you will be getting more! You really will notice a difference in the flavor in your foods and baked goods!

And don’t forget; you don’t use vanilla by the cup. So your investment in quality goes a long way and lasts a long time.

Picking out a good vanilla starts with knowing how to read a label.

Choosing the best vanilla extract  just by reading the label is a little tricky.  While there are rules governing vanilla extract production and labeling, not every company follows the rules. Here are some guidelines to help you in your quest for the best.

1. First, make sure it’s actually extract! Many aren’t!

For a good extract, make sure it is actually extract. Vanilla flavor and vanilla extract are not the same thing. Vanilla flavor is made without alcohol. Propylene glycol or glycerine are used. If it’s labeled pure vanilla extract, it’s extract. If it’s labeled “flavor,” it can’t contain alcohol. Vanilla extract is stronger and than vanilla flavor. Flavor is a good substitute if you don’t want alcohol. Imitation vanilla must be labeled imitation in the US. In Mexico, the Caribbean and Latin America, the labels mean nothing.

2. Make certain it’s pure vanilla!

Do not purchase vanilla extract with a Mexican label, even from a specialty food store or online! Mexican vanilla that is produced by a reputable American company is fine however.

Unfortunately, some specialty food stores carry Mexican vanilla made in Mexico. While it is possible that it is pure vanilla, the chances are more than 99% that it is not pure. Mexico produces beautiful vanilla beans but the vast majority of so-called extracts made there, as well as in the Caribbean and in Latin America, are imitation. They may smell good because they don’t contain alcohol (or contain only 2% alcohol) but they are made from chemicals and are not pure vanilla.  More information on  Mexican vanilla here.


Here are more tips on finding quality vanilla extracts that may or may not be on the label.

  • The best vanilla extracts are made from premium grade vanilla beans that have a high natural vanillin content. This means big flavor.
  • Extracts made with more  vanilla beans than required by law like our own Rain’s Choice vanilla extract, offer more depth of flavor  in the foods you cook and bake.
  • Extracts that contain only a small percent of sugar and no corn syrup or caramel color are cleaner tasting. While vanilla is mildly sweet and doesn’t need sugar to boost its flavor, if sugar cane alcohol is used for extraction, it has a harsh nose. A small percentage of sugar will soften the harsh nose and give the extract a more delicate aroma. If the extract is made with corn or grain alcohol, it isn’t necessary to add sugar.
  • Extracts that have had time to age or mellow will be smoothest.

Are some brands of vanilla extracts better than others?

There are several high quality vanilla extracts in the marketplace, and of those we can’t say one brand is superior to all others because it’s really a matter of taste, not unlike picking out a good wine. The trick is to find the one that you like best!

The best vanilla extract – and the foods you use them in – will be anything but plain!

Experiment by trying a few of the quality brands. Smell the extracts as if you are smelling a fine wine. Then taste it. If it’s mildly sweet, that’s fine; if it’s very sweet, it contains corn syrup or has a high sugar content.  Bake with it or add it to a custard, flan or ice cream. How does it taste in your favorite desserts? What about in beverages? Experiment until you find what tastes best to your palate and in the foods you are making.

Here’s a fun way  to find your favorite vanilla – have a taste-testing party!

Invite friends over to sample with you, and make a blind tasting so they aren’t influenced by a brand name.

Create a simple syrup with 2 cups of water and 2 cups of sugar. When the syrup has cooled, divide the syrup into three or four containers and add 2 teaspoons of extract. Add soda water to each container and taste. You can also make a  custard or ice cream, divide the finished product and fold   extracts into each. Again, each person samples and writes down the favorite. Finish off the evening with some savory and sweet foods flavored with vanilla. You will find how versatile vanilla actually is by doing this. I recommend going into our recipe database for ideas of recipes to serve.

In summary…

The best vanilla extracts use higher-cost premium quality beans with a high vanillin content and minimal additives. They should lift and brighten the foods you cook or bake., and add sparkle to beverages.

And more importantly, while the best quality extracts may cost a little more, the improved flavor will be well worth it!

What about Rain’s Choice vanilla extracts? How do they differ? Are they better?

Our mission is to provide our customers with premium-quality vanilla extracts and  excellent customer service. Our vanilla extracts contain vanilla beans with a high vanillin content.  They are made with 20% more vanilla beans than required by law. This gives our extracts an excellent depth of  flavor that is so strikingly noticeable that it is not uncommon for us to get reviews like the one below. We use sugar cane alcohol, 3% sugar to soften the harsh nose of the alcohol, and distilled water.  Period! All of our vanilla products are gluten-free.

Are you ready for a taste sensation? Then we invite you to try Rain’s Choice vanilla extracts.

I opened the bottle of your vanilla extract last weekend to bake some cookies and the difference in taste is extraordinary! – Judy Draper
Patricia Rain
is an author, educator, culinary historian, and owner of The Vanilla Company (www.vanillaqueen.com), a socially conscious, product-driven information and education site dedicated to the promotion of pure, natural vanilla, and the support of vanilla farmers worldwide. She also does culinary presentations for food professionals, cooking schools, trade shows, food fairs, and private groups, and is a regular radio and TV guest.

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Mike Salimbene 30-10-2013, 11:41

Hi Patricia! My wife Pat & I got hooked on Azteca Vanilla while vacationing in Mexico, it tasted better than the supermarket extracts at the time. How does Azteca rate in your book? Your vanilla sounds amazing and I love your concept and holistic approach to the product. Thanks for anything you can share on this! Peace.

Vanilla Queen 30-10-2013, 12:03

Unfortunately, Azteca vanilla is imitation. We have no idea what is actually in the bottle. And while it may smell good and even possibly be tasty, it isn’t pure vanilla extract. Please read:http://www.vanilla.com/vanilla-from-mexico-central-american-and-the-caribbean/ for more information.

Our vanilla is pure, clean vanilla extract. It contains alcohol by law and will smell differently from the imitation. It’s necessary to smell it in the same way you would smell perfume to get the true aroma of the vanilla.

The imitation vanilla available in the supermarket may or may not taste like Azteca. However, if you are committed to supporting farmers, using pure vanilla is the only way to help.

Patricia Rain 18-05-2014, 18:17

Kent, if you go onto the homepage of my site and scroll down, you’ll find a link that leads you to lots of articles about vanilla. Be sure to read the one about Mexican Vanilla. Usually the better quality vanillas are at specialty food stores. I sell excellent vanilla extracts that are made with 20% more vanilla beans that required by law. The vanilla is extremely good with rich deep notes. Everyone who understands quality extracts loves our products.


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Why buy Rain's Choice vanilla?

  • You get MORE FLAVOR because we use 20% more beans in our extracts than is required by law!
  • 99% of all vanilla products are imitation. Ours are 100% PURE!
  • We carefully choose all products to assure best QUALITY & FLAVOR!
  • Our farmers are paid a FAIR PRICE.
  • Our vanilla beans are SUSTAINABLY grown.
  • Everything we sell is ORGANICALLY grown.
  • Your purchase here supports our HUMANITARIAN efforts.

Thank you for supporting The Vanilla Company and our farmers!

Be part of the 1% solution!

Did you know that 99% of vanilla fragrances and flavors are actually artificial?

That is devastating to vanilla growers. Please support them. Be part of the 1% Solution. Buy only pure vanilla here or anywhere!
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