Frequently Asked Questions

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The use of the term ‘bourbon’ to describe a vanilla bean means that the bean is grown in Madagascar or other islands in the Indian Ocean, such as Comoros and Réunion. The term does not describe that the alcohol ‘Bourbon’ has been used, but instead is derived from the old name for Réunion, which was known as the Île Bourbon. Sometimes vanilla from this region is simply referred to as Bourbon Vanilla, other times Madagascan Bourbon Vanilla or simply Madagascan Vanilla. It is a strong, creamy, woody, intense vanilla that gives a wonderful vanilla flavour in all types of dishes.

Alcohol is the most effective way to extract the true flavour from the vanilla bean that you love in your baking. That rich aroma when you crack open a bottle, and the incredible flavour when used in baking are all achieved by the extraction process that we have perfected here at Queen over the past 120 Years!

Queen Vanilla extracts are made by combining pure vanilla beans with a mixture of alcohol (sugar cane-derived ethanol) and water. This allows the flavour compounds from the pure vanilla bean to infuse into the alcohol/water mixture, which then forms the pure vanilla extract. While vanilla beans can be extracted without alcohol, it is very slow, ineffective and results in a lower quality vanilla extract. At Queen we want to produce the very best vanilla for your baking, which is why our extracts are made through the alcohol extraction method.

Vanilla Extract, Vanilla Bean Paste and Vanilla Pods can all be used in a range of ways, while there is no absolute for each, here are a few ideas to make the most of these different vanilla types:

  • Vanilla Extract – Excellent for everyday baking such as cakes, biscuits, tarts, breads, pies and cooked dishes. Gives a pleasant, mild vanilla flavour.
  • Vanilla Bean Paste – Ideal for a strong, aromatic vanilla flavour in everyday baking such as cakes and biscuits. The vanilla bean seeds are especially pretty in cream-based treats such as buttercream icing, shortbread, custards, meringue and creme brulee. It is also delicious in smoothies and milkshakes.

The main difference is that flavouring extracts are derived from the natural ingredient. For example, Peppermint Extract is made from Peppermint being soaked in a mixture of ethyl alcohol, glycerine and water. The flavour compounds of the ingredient infuse into the soaking mixture, then forming the extract. Essences, by contrast are a mixture of a commercial flavouring (which may be natural or synthetic) and depending on the recipe, ethyl alcohol, glycerine and water. Queen produces a range of Flavouring Extracts and Flavouring Essences as some flavours are very difficult to extract from the original ingredient while still giving a pleasant, characteristic flavour.