Inside Vanilla

What’s in McNess Champion Madagascar Vanilla Compound that makes things taste so good?


An explanation of what is in the vanilla blend and why.
When you look at a bottle of McNess Champion Madagascar Vanilla Compound, you will see that there are three main flavor ingredients. They are (in order) pure vanilla extract, vanillin and ethyl vanillin. You will also find alcohol, water, coloring, and glycerin.

So what exactly are vanilla extract, vanillin and ethyl vanillin and why are all of these things in the McNess Champion Compound?

Let’s start with vanilla itself.
Vanilla is a flavor that comes from the vanilla plant. The vanilla plant, which is a tropical flowering orchid, produces bean pods. These pods are soaked in alcohol to pull out different molecules. The liquid that comes from this steeping/infusion process is then referred to as an extract (hence pure vanilla extract will always have alcohol in it.) There are numerous molecules that come from the vanilla plant, but the primary one that gives it the flavor we think of as “vanilla” is vanillin. Yes, vanillin is a molecule that is created naturally in the vanilla plant, and without it you wouldn’t have that vanilla flavor that we know and love.

Vanillin is a molecule that comes from vanilla beans, but it can also be created by other processes. It’s the same molecule regardless of where it came from. Think of it this way: you can go to a river or a well and get water (H2O), or you can combine oxygen and hydrogen together and create H2O. It’s the exact same thing. (Well, when you combine it together, it might be a little more pure than getting it from a river.) So vanillin is a naturally occurring molecule that can be found in vanilla plants, or can be created in other ways.

Now let’s look at ethyl vanillin. Ethyl vanillin is also a molecule. Scientists discovered that combining one more carbon atom to a vanillin molecule creates a product with an intense vanilla taste. So the ethyl vanillin molecule is similar to a vanillin molecule, but has one more carbon atom.

Combining the three flavoring agents together.
In the McNess formula, we have more pure vanilla extract than any other flavoring agent. Next we add some vanillin, this adds more vanilla flavor. Then we add a little bit of ethyl vanillin, not a lot. By adding the vanillin and ethyl vanillin to the pure vanilla extract we create a product that is double strength that won’t bake out or freeze out. But to emphasize one important part, there is more pure vanilla extract than any other ingredient (other than water and alcohol, and the alcohol is there from making the pure extract from the vanilla beans.)

Imitation vanilla
We also have a McNess imitation uncolored vanilla product, often referred to as the “clear” vanilla. This doesn’t have the pure vanilla extract in it, but uses vanillin and ethyl vanillin as its flavoring agents. Primarily used where you want white frostings or clear glazes, it’s popular for its ability to add vanilla flavoring without adding any dark coloring. (Still, some of our bakers find this clear vanilla perfect for all of their baking needs.)

No sugar
To us it seems obvious that to create a good vanilla compound you should use pure vanilla extract as your primary ingredient, but add vanillin and ethyl vanillin to supplement it. So we are a little bit perplexed that one of our competitors uses sugar as their primary flavoring ingredient. Yet, if you were to look at their packaging, their label states in large type “with Pure Vanilla Extract”. But if you look at the actual ingredients list it is clear that they have more sugar and propylene glycol in their formula than they have vanilla. (They list the water and alcohol as part of the vanilla extract. If we decided to list our ingredients the same way then our number one ingredient would be pure vanilla extract.) There is absolutely no sugar or corn syrup in any McNess vanilla products.

The proof is in the tasting


We hear all of the time that McNess Champion Madagascar Vanilla Compound is the “secret” ingredient that makes our customers cookies, cakes, ice cream and other creations taste so good. They can taste the difference. That’s also the reason why top professional bakeries and ice cream companies use it. Their reputation is on the line, they won’t settle for second best.