Difference between Extracts and Essences

Difference between Extracts and Essences

“Your vanilla extract is very expensive”

We get this a lot so we thought of explaining why is it so. Please read the entire post. It may add to your knowledge.

Firstly, you cannot compare Vanilla Extract and Vanilla Essence/Flavour. Vanilla extract is made from actual/real vanilla beans whereas essence or flavour is just pure chemical.

Everything in a vanilla essence or flavour is chemically manufactured and the truth is there is absolutely no real vanilla in it. Vanillin which is the primary component of the vanilla beans is synthetically manufactured to make it taste and smell like real vanilla, to imitate the real vanilla. It goes for all the other essences as well.

So why do people buy vanilla essence?

  • Since it is a chemical and extremely cheap to manufacture, the retail cost of the essence is much much lower than extract making it an easy option for people to buy.
  • It is highly concentrated. Since it’s pure chemical, the concentration of the essence is very much in control of the manufacturer. Essence manufacturers usually keep the concentration very high so even if you use few drops of it there will be considerable flavour in the final product. This makes the essence the perfect choice for people who are looking for cheap vanilla, home bakers, chefs and even the ones who run big bakeries and units because everyone wants to cut down on costs and keep larger profit margins.

Another important point is that needs to be mentioned here is that the term extract and essence is most of the times used interchangeably, sometimes even by the product manufacturers.

So how can we differentiate?

The best way would be to check the ingredients on the product. Essence/Flavour usually contains the following ingredients:

Natural flavouring substances
Nature identical flavouring substances
Artificial flavouring substances
Propylene glycol
Food colours

There will be no mention of the actual ingredient because everything is made with chemicals. Also the smell of the essence/flavour feels like a perfume. 

Whereas in the case of an extract, the ingredients would be clearly mentioned and there would be no flavours or colours added. The smell of the extract is exactly like the raw material from which the extract is made. 

You may be surprised with the fact that very few people actually know the difference between extracts and essences which brings us to the main point of this article.

Many people use our vanilla extract but sometimes we have to deal with people who have been using essences throughout and somehow have ended up buying our extract thinking it is vanilla essence. The trouble arises when start comparing our extract with the essence they were using and expect similar results.

Our Vanilla Extract is made with real vanilla beans and a natural solvent that helps extract the natural flavour. Since there is no role of chemicals, extracts tend to be mild in nature. The flavour and aroma of the extract is a lot milder than essence. Since the extract is made with the real ingredients, the final product gets the same qualities as the raw material.

The quantity of the extract to be used depends on the recipe but when you compare it with essence in terms of usage, there is a huge difference. You have to use a much higher quantity of extract to provide a great flavour to your recipe as compared to essence.

In a nutshell, the benefits of using extracts are:

  • Pure and natural flavour in the recipe
  • Provides the true taste of the raw material used

We are glad that many people get in touch with us for the same and we try our best to explain the whole process. It is worth mentioning that we have made many many people switch to extracts. It is difficult at times to make the them understand because everyone wants a cheaper alternative but it is also worth mentioning that most of those people don’t actually know the difference.

We started Natural Extracts back in 2017. It has been hard to communicate the message but the positive thing is people are switching to extracts. We may have just made a small dent in this sphere but we certainly hope that people will see and know what they should and should not put in their food. 

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