So, what is the difference between Vanilla Syrup and Vanilla Extract? This is often a question many of us coffee lovers have asked ourselves at some stage as from face value they seem similar. But, when you actually look into the two and how they can affect your coffee, you soon realise there are some important differences that you need to be aware of.
Unsurprisingly, vanilla is one of the most popular flavours, not just in coffee, but many delicacies all over the world. It can add extra flavour to really enhance any drink or dish. But in what situation would you need to use syrup over extract, or extract over syrup?
Vanilla syrup and Vanilla extract are made differently. The vanilla syrup is made from water, granulated sugar and also some vanilla extract. Making vanilla syrup is a very fast process that takes no longer than one day.
Vanilla extract on the other hand is a process that can take months. This is because the extract is made by vanilla beans being soaked in a mixture that contains water and alcohol.
Now that you are aware of what vanilla syrup is, what vanilla extract is and how it is made, it is time to look at what situations you would use the two products, as well as their manufacturing processes, tastes and more.
The Difference Between Vanilla Syrup and Vanilla Extract
As mentioned before, vanilla syrup has a sweet sensational taste and contains three key ingredients: granulated sugar, water, and vanilla extract. Not all syrups contain the exact same ingredients, some have extras such as salt and brown sugar. The reason these can be added is because they can enhance the flavour.
Vanilla syrup is what we use in beverages to sweeten the taste. It is known that some people also add it to cakes, cereals and some other foods to also make them sweeter. They are a great replacement for adding sugar to coffees for example, because some of the syrups can be extremely low in calories, some have no calories at all. These are perfect for those looking to cut down on calories and sugar intake.
The process of making vanilla extract consists of chopping up vanilla beans. If you are making vanilla extract at home, then you can do this simply with scissors or a knife. You then put them in a solution containing water and alcohol. From this, you will get a brown liquid. It can take around 2 months for you to get the pure vanilla extract and in order for it to be classed as pure, it needs to contain at least 35% alcohol and 13.35% vanilla bean solids.
If you are making it yourself at home then remember to shake the container that the vanilla extract is in. Do this weekly or even as often as possible. The longer you leave the vanilla extract, the stronger the flavour so bare that in mind.
As you can see from our description of how to make vanilla syrup, one of the key ingredients was in fact vanilla extract. You can’t make the syrup if you don’t already have the extract. The purity of the extract will then affect the flavour of the syrup so it is important you get both right.
Vanilla extract is not used in coffees, other beverages and foods like vanilla syrup. Instead, it can be used in a broader variety of products. For example, it is more commonly used in baking and cooking. In some cases it is used in beverages but syrup is a lot more easier and convenient in that situation.
The tastes of vanilla extract and syrup are different. Vanilla syrup has a really sweet taste which is why it is adored on desserts and some beverages like coffees and hot chocolates. Whereas vanilla extract actually has a more bitter taste to it, which might come as a surprise to some. You wouldn’t consume it on its own like you can with the syrup because you would certainly be able to taste the pure alcohol, which wouldn’t be pleasant.
Recipe For Vanilla Syrup
If you are intrigued and want to make your own vanilla syrup, then you can follow our simple recipe guide that will help you make delicious syrup that is good enough for any beverage or dessert! If you intend to use it for coffees, then make sure you take a look at our coffee buying guides to ensure that the coffee you use won’t hinder the taste of your syrup.
- Boil some water
- Add sugar to the boiling water, ensuring it dissolves
- Stop boiling the water
- Put the vanilla extract into the water
There you have it, your own very delicious vanilla syrup.
Recipe For Vanilla Extract
Unfortunately, the recipe for vanilla extract is not as simple as the syrup. It takes more dedication and ingredients to pull this off. You have to be a lot more precise with your measurements if you want to get this right. Nevertheless it is still very much doable and here is how it is done.
- Cut your vanilla beans in half using a knife or scissors
- Fill a jar, or any other container that you can seal, with alcohol
- Put the vanilla beans inside the container with the alcohol
- Seal the container tight, try to keep it in a cool place with no light
- Every week or so go back to the extract and give the container a shake
For the best results, you should keep the vanilla beans contained for anywhere between 6 months, all the way up to a year. The longer you leave it, the better the flavour. You will need around 4 ounces of vanilla beans and around 750ml of alcohol for this process.
Origins of Vanilla
Although many of us enjoy the taste of vanilla, not many of us actually know where it comes from. Vanilla comes from the vanilla orchid. The flavour is inside the seed pods. You can find vanilla located in different places across the globe.
Harvesting vanilla pods is not easy and requires a lot of grafting. It needs to be done carefully for the best results.
Vanilla Extract Alternatives
For those that feel the process of getting vanilla extract is lengthy and not worth it, there are some alternatives that you can look at. Not all alternatives are good for the same things so it is worth bearing in mind and doing your own research to see which alternatives are best for what.
Here are some of our top rated alternatives for vanilla extract:
- Vanilla Paste
- Vanilla Powder
- Vanilla Sugar
- Maple Syrup
As you can see some won’t provide the exact same flavour but will certainly be useful in the same beverages and desserts.