The vanilla bean being the source of the most important and valuable flavoring which we have, will first be considered.

The bean-producing plant is a climbing parasite, the Vanilla Planifolia, of Andrews, according to the United States Pharmacopoeia; but the bean of commerce is derived from various species of the genus Vanilla, according to our pharmaceutical writers. It is native to Mexico, the West Indies and South America, and cultivated in the East Indies. That found on the market is of various kinds, as to name and quality. We have the Mexican, Bourbon, Imitation Mexican, Tahiti, Guatemala and Va-nilon or Wild Vanilla, the latter differing most from the others in appearance, flavor and value.

Quality of Vanilla Beans

In quality we find quoted "ordinary," "fair," "good," "prime," "extra," "split," "cut," "broken lots of mixed lengths," and "powdered with fifty per cent. of sugar." Thus we have various grades, from which no one can fail to find his liking, either in price or quality. Prices ranging usually from two to twelve dollars a pound, often much higher.

The relative intrinsic value of vanilla beans, especially as to Mexican or Bourbon, appears to be subject to all the turnings of a theological question. "Make your extract of Mexican," "buy Bourbon," "try Tahiti," and the like advice can be met in druggist's journal or business circular, each claiming superiority or advantage for a certain kind, as in every department of trade. But the old rule, "the quality regulates the price," will be a good one to remember in this, as in most other cases.

* See page ii, Pubs. Dept.

The question of length, as to value, which we never could fully comprehend, appears now to be ignored by some of the larger dealers. "We do not suppose that the mere length of the bean has any more to do with its flavor or flavoring qualities than the length or breadth of a man decides his mental or moral qualities. But as position and culture and education all play their part in the formation of character, so soil, climate and cultivation establish the quality of the fruit under consideration."

In purchasing vanilla beans it is almost a necessity to take them on trust, as to quality, although you are usually expected to pay for them in cash. This would appear an unreasonable condition of affairs and to be wholly objectionable, but it is only the first part of the conditions to which we take exceptions.

In buying vanilla beans try to deal, not merely with a reliable house, but with the most reliable vender of whom you have knowl-edge. To be candid, we need more light on the relative value of this fruit. All we are sure of in purchasing is the price and the length of the beans. They might be made of wood pulp, colored with caramel and flavored with synthetical vanilin, for all that.

Some years since we purchased a lot of vanilla, in which the coloring and aromatic principles were sadly deficient, so much so, that our reputation suffered before we were aware of the real facts; and the sorrowful part was, they were purchased from a good house, for a good bean, at a good price.

Exhaustion of Vanilla Beans

The formula followed or the particular process to be adopted, does not appear to us of such vital importance as that whatever partic ular method be taken to secure the complete exhaustion of the bean, the work be well done, whether percolation, maceration or digestion, or a combination of the three.

The directions under each separate formula will, of course, apply to that formula, but the proper carrying out of the details can only rest with the operator.

Earnest, intelligent effort will always repay a hundred fold, in the manufacture of the extract of vanilla, as in every other process.

The proper menstruum, of course, will be the one that intelligent experiment has proven the most perfectly to exhaust and preserve the important principles of the substances operated upon.

The United States Pharmacopoeia of 1880, under the name of Tincture of Vanilla, directs a menstruum composed of two parts alcohol and one part water (each by weight), of which fifty (50) parts are taken to ten (10) parts of the vanilla bean, and twenty (20) parts of sugar. The vanilla is cut in small pieces and macerated in half the mixture for twelve hours, the liquid drained off and set aside. The vanilla is then beaten into a uniform powder, with the sugar, in a mortar, packed in a percolator and the reserved liquid poured on; then the remainder of the liquid, and continued until one hundred parts of the "tincture" are obtained.

Prof. Wm. Proctor, Jr., has published the result of his efforts, as to the preparation of this particular extract, which we will give under the formula proposed by him.

We consider the vanilla bean as ranking among the hardest substances from which to extract its virtues, especially by percolation alone.

The following formulas will, however, speak for themselves.

To Make a Good Extract of Vanilla

The only requirements are cologne spirit, water, sugar, good beans and time, especially the last two. I have never yet been able to discover why brandy should be employed, except to increase the cost of the preparation; deodorized alcohol and water are quite as good, if not better. A mixture of cologne spirit, water and glycerin have been tried, but I have not found the addition of glycerin an improvement." Dr. C. P. Nichols.

* This extract differs from most of the other important ones in its source, being made direct from the aromatic substance in its crude or natural condition; also in that it does not depend on a volatile oil for its virtue. This fact, together with experience, would seem to warrant the conclusion that time is a factor in the complete ripening or perfecting of this extract. You may demonstrate this by keeping an extract of vanilla for, say one year or over one summer, and then comparing with one recently made by exactly the same formula This notion among manufacturing perfumers is accepted as a fact, as to the extract of musk.

Extract of Vanilla

Vanilla (good quality).............

1 ounce.

Sugar (coarse granulated)..........

2 ounces.

Simple Syrup.....................

1 pint.

Diluted Alcohol, sufficient quantity.

Cut the vanilla, transversely, in small sections and triturate it with the sugar until reduced to a coarse powder; put this in a glass funnel prepared for percolation, and pour on diluted alcohol until a pint of tincture has passed; add this to the syrup and mix them.

It will be necessary to remark, with reference to this formula, that at the time of its publication (1866), the dilute alcohol in use among druggists and officinal in the United States Pharmacopoeia, was of 39 per cent strength; that is, equal parts of alcohol and water, by measure. The alcohol, too, was of 85 per cent strength, consequently, the dilute alcohol of to-day would be a very much stronger spirit.


Note - Flavoring Extract of Vanilla is sometimes erroneonsly called Fluid Extract.

Extract of Vanilla

Vanilla Beans..................

1 pound.

Diluted Alcohol (Atwood)......

2 gallons.

Alcohol (Atwood)..............

4 fl. ounces.

Cut the vanilla into very small fragments, and macerate in the diluted alcohol for two weeks; then place it in a displacement apparatus with an equal bulk of sand (washed); put the dilute alcohol through, and finally the strong.

The same remarks regarding the alcoholic strength may be applied to this formula as are made under the previous one.

Extract of Vanilla

(quick method)

Vanilla Bean (cut fine) ........................

8 ounces.

Cologne Spirit......................................

5 pints.


3 pints.

Mix the liquids. Put one-third of the mixture in a suitable water bath apparatus with the cut beans. Cover closely, and heat to not over 140° F. for one hour, and remove the heat. Drain off the liquid, add another third of the liquid, repeat the process, and again with the remaining portion of the liquid. Put the beans into a percolator, and having mixed one-half pint of the liquid in the proportions given, percolate to remove the last traces of the extract from the beans.

* Parrish. †Bedford.

Filter the mixed liquids and pour the percolate on the filter to remove the adherent extract.

This will be found to be one of the most satisfactory of all processes, in the hands of a careful manipulator who knows how to avoid the risk of inflaming alcohol.

Extract of Vanilla


..... 1 ounce.

Alcohol (95 per cent)......

..... 3 fl. ounces.

Dilute Alcohol, sufficient to make 1 pint.

Cut the Vanilla into short pieces and bruise well with sand; then pack in a displacer; add first the strong alcohol, then the diluted alcohol, to make one pint. Let stand for twenty-four hours and filter. If desired, two ounces of syrup may be added to the gallon.

Extract of Vanilla

Vanilla Beans (Mexican).....

..... 4 ounces.

Sugar (granulated)...........

..... 4 ounces.

Alcohol, a sufficient quantity.

Cut the Vanilla, transversely, into small pieces, and reduce it, with the Sugar, to as fine a condition as practical, by powdering in an iron mortar. Moisten the powder with 50 per cent. alcohol; pack in a percolator, in which allow the whole to macerate for twenty-four hours, and displace at the rate of 40 drops a minute, until four (4) pints of extract are obtained.

Extract of Vanilla

Vanilla Beans..........

.......... 1 ounce.

Rock Candy............

.......... 2 ounces.

Deodorized alcohol and water - a sufficient quantity of each.

Cut the Vanilla Beans in small pieces with a sharp knife, transfer to an iron mortar, and beat, with the Rock Candy, into a fine powder; place this in a bottle with nine (9) fluidounces of alcohol; allow to macerate, with occasional agitation, for twenty-four (24) hours, and add seven fluidounces of water; then treat in the same manner for two days, and filter.