Ingredient Spotlight: Haitian Vanilla

Ingredient Spotlight: Haitian Vanilla

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Emma Christensen
Mar 19, 2010

A friend of ours was working down in Haiti after the earthquake and brought us back a bottle of Haitian vanilla. It smells very different than the vanilla we're used to, and we suspect that there might be an additional ingredient in this extract that could make it very fun to play with!

In a side-by-side sniff test with our standard grocery store vanilla extract, the Haitian vanilla smells stronger, spicier, and somewhat medicinal. There was also something familiar about it, but we couldn't quite place our finger on it.

A little poking around on the internet revealed that Haitian vanilla is sometimes made by soaking the beans in Haitian rum instead of an unflavored alcohol - aha! This was exactly the aroma we were recognizing from our bottle of extract!

We do have to admit that we're a little curious if this isn't vanilla extract at all, but rather imitation extract similar to the one that another reader found in Mexico. Our bottle doesn't list any ingredients and we couldn't find any information on this specific seller. We're a little nervous to try something without knowing the exact ingredients, but maybe we're just being a bit over-cautious.

Do any of you have experience with Haitian vanilla? How do you recommend using it?

Related: Technique: Homemade Vanilla Extract

(Image: Emma Christensen)

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