The following test depends on the chemical difference between coumarin and vanillin, the odorous principles of the two beans. Coumarin is the anhydride of coumaric acid, and on fusion with a caustic alkali yields acetic and salicylic acids, while vanillin is methyl protocatechin aldehyde, and when treated similarly yields protocatechuic acid. The test is performed by evaporating a small quantity of the extract to dryness, and melting the residue with caustic potash. Transfer the fused mass to a test tube, neutralize with hydrochloric acid, and add a few drops of ferric chloride solution. If Tonka be present in the extract, the beautiful violet coloration characteristic of salicylic acid will at once become evident.

Vanilla Substitute

A substitute for vanilla extract is made from synthetic vanillin. The vanillin is simply dissolved in diluted alcohol and the solution colored with a little caramel and sweetened perhaps with syrup. The following is a typical formula:

Vanillin........... 1 ounce

Alcohol........... 6 quarts

Water............. 5 quarts

Syrup............. 1 quart

Caramel sufficient to color. An extract so made does not wholly represent the flavor of the bean; while vanillin is the chief flavoring constituent of the bean, there are present other substances which contribute to the flavor; and connoisseurs prefer this combination, the remaining members of which have not yet been made artificially.


See Vanilla.