(see also Foods)

There is no well-defined test for vanillin, but one can get at it in a negative way. The artificial vanillin contains vanillin identical with the vanillin contained in the vanilla bean; but the vanilla bean, as the vanilla extract, contains among its many "extractive matters" which enter into the food and fragrant value of vanilla extract, certain rosins which can be identified with certainty in analysis by a number of determining reactions. Extract made without true vanilla can be detected by negative results in all these reactions.

Vanilla beans contain 4 to 11 per cent of this rosin. It is of a dark red to brown color and furnishes about one-half the color of the extract of vanilla. This rosin is soluble in 50 per cent alcohol, so that in extracts of high grade, where sufficient alcohol is used, all rosin is kept in solution. In cheap extracts, where as little as 20 per cent of alcohol by volume is sometimes used, an alkali—usually potassium bicarbonate—is added to aid in getting rosin, gums, etc., in solution, and to prevent subsequent turpidity. This treatment deepens the color very materially.

Place some of the extract to be examined in a glass evaporating dish and evaporate the alcohol on the water bath. When alcohol is removed, make up about the original volume with hot water. If alkali has not been used in the manufacture of the extract, the rosin will appear as a flocculent red to brown residue. Acidify with acetic acid to free rosin from bases, separating the whole of the rosin and leaving a partly decolorized, clear supernatant liquid after standing a short time. Collect the rosin on a filter, wash with water, and reserve the filtrate for further tests.

Place a portion of the filter with the attached rosin in a few cubic centimeters of dilute caustic potash. The rosin is dissolved to a deep-red solution. Acidify. The rosin is thereby precipitated. Dissolve a portion of the rosin in alcohol; to one fraction add a few drops of ferric chloride; no striking coloration is produced. To another portion add hydrochloric acid; again there is little change in color. In alcoholic solution most rosins give color reactions with ferric chloride or hydrochloric acid. To a portion of the filtrate obtained above add a few drops of basic lead acetate. The precipitate is so bulky as to almost solidify, due to the excessive amount of organic acids, gums, and other extractive matter. The filtrate from this precipitate is nearly, but not quite, colorless. Test another portion of the filtrate from the rosin for tannin with a solution of gelatin. Tannin is present in varying but small quantities. It should not be present in great excess.