Vanilla is the ice cream we all know and historically love the most (at least here in America) It’s the foundation of the ice cream kingdom. Master this simple recipe and in no time you’ll be churning out chocolate, strawberry, caramel, coffee – the possibilities are infinite.
It seems to go without saying that the title ingredient is the star of this show. There are three ways to go and the widely accepted ‘gold standard of vanilla might not be your best option.
- VANILLA EXTRACT is simply vanilla beans steeped in alcohol to extract the flavor. Familar and easy to find, extract has a wide range of choices from mass produced to bespoke. Synthetic (labeled ‘immitation’) vanilla is the cheapest of all vanillas. While immitation extracts are often treated as the trailer trash of vanillas they are worth revaluating. On other hand, single source pure vanilla extract can be more expensive per kilo than silver. That’s not to say that the real deal isn’t worth the money. It is if YOU can taste the difference.
- VANILLA BEANS are the fruit (pods) of orchids (genus Vanilla) Traditionally touted as ‘the best’ vanilla in countles recipes that may no longer be true for us home cooks. Beans are escalating in price and dropping in quality. Or at least reliability. The supermarket spice aisle is nothing more than a game of Russian roulette at $10 a bean. There’s no way to know if you’re getting great vanilla or a dried up pod past its prime. But go to the trouble (and expense) of finding a good supplier of beans and you will be rewarded with fabulous flavor and an ice cream flecked with those little black seeds that visually signal premium vanilla.
- VANILLA PASTE is sort like the best of both worlds in my opinion. It’s extract, flecked with vanilla seeds and thickened a bit to a syrupy consistancy. You get the flavor and visual appeal of real vanilla at lower price point and greater reliabilty than off the shelf bean pods.
So what is the right choice? Well, I formulated this ice cream for vanilla paste – my personal favorite. It will also work beautifully with any other vanilla. It’s up to you.Print