The World’s Finest Vanillas

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THE WORLD’S FINEST VANILLAS Nielsen-MasseyTruly fine vanilla is at once rich, sweet and sophisticated, possessing a euphoric flavor and fragrance that sends pure joy to the pleasure centers of the brain. Vanilla is warm. It's complex. It can have a bit of spice. Or flowery notes. It is the most popular flavor in the world. And to the vanilla lovers at Nielsen-Massey Vanillas, it is their ultimate passion.

Nielsen-Massey Vanillas have been crafting vanilla products for over a century, which is why they understand that vanilla tastes best when its natural essence is allowed to shine. When producing their vanilla extracts, they use a proprietary cold extraction process instead of heat extraction.

As a third-generation family company, there's a certain pride in crafting premium vanilla products. From a quality standpoint, this means that every batch of vanilla extract, paste, sugar and powder is thoroughly tested to make sure it lives up to the very high standards of Neilsen-Massey.

Neilsen-Massey Vanilla Extracts

Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract

Taking premium, hand-selected beans cultivated on the Bourbon Island of Madagascar, we use our proprietary cold extraction process to gently draw out and preserve the vanilla's over 300 flavor compounds. The result is a sweet, creamy, mellow flavor with velvety after-tones, perfect for cooking and baking both sweet and savory dishes. An exceptional "all-purpose" vanilla. One tablespoon of vanilla extract is equivalent to one vanilla bean.

Organic Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract

Our Organic Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla offers the same outstanding flavor and high quality as our traditional extract but features only certified organic ingredients. Made using our proprietary cold extraction process, this is an exceptional "all-purpose" vanilla that's ideal for general cooking and baking. Add this sweet, creamy and mellow extract to any recipe in which you desire the undeniable flavor and aroma of pure vanilla. One tablespoon of vanilla extract is equivalent to one vanilla bean.


Mexican Pure Vanilla Extract

Mexican vanilla is a rich marriage of sweet and woody notes with a deep, spicy character, similar to clove or nutmeg. Using our proprietary cold extraction process, we carefully draw out the over 300 distinctive flavor components inherent in the bean. The resulting origin-specific extract works especially well with chocolate, citrus fruits, cinnamon, cloves and other warm spices. The vanilla's spiciness also enables it to complement the spice of tomato sauces, barbecue sauces and salsas, smoothing out their heat and acidity. Even more, substitute in place of Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract and see what kind of culinary twist it gives to your favorite recipes, including cookies, cakes and ice creams. One tablespoon of vanilla extract is equivalent to one vanilla bean.

Tahitian Pure Vanilla Extract

A favorite of pastry chefs around the world, Tahitian vanilla features a floral, fruity, cherry-like flavor. This vanilla is very susceptible to heat, making our exclusive cold extraction process a necessity in preserving its more than 300 flavor compounds. Use our Tahitian Pure Vanilla Extract to effortlessly add delicious, delicate vanilla flavor to such cold dishes as refrigerated and frozen desserts, pastry creams, fruit pies and sauces, smoothies, shakes, puddings and custards. One tablespoon of vanilla extract is equivalent to one vanilla bean.


Pure Vanilla Extract

Our Pure Vanilla Extract uses a proprietary blend of select vanilla beans and is made using our strict, unwavering quality standards and exclusive cold extraction process. Enjoy in a wide range of foods, from classic sweet treats (cookies, pastries, ice cream and more) to savory foods (soups, sauces, vegetables, meats and more). One tablespoon of vanilla extract is equivalent to one vanilla bean.

THE WORLD’S FINEST VANILLAS Nielsen-MasseyOrigins of Vanilla

Vanilla, the most popular flavor in the world, originated in Mexico. The vanilla bean, actually a pod, was found nowhere else in the world. For hundreds of years, the Totonaco Indians, inhabitants of the East Central Coast area of Mexico, were the keepers of this secret flavor. When the Aztecs defeated these peaceful people, one of the most important tributes they demanded was the fruits of the Tlilxochitl vine, vanilla pods. These pods were used with cacao beans to make a drink called “Chocolatl.” In 1520, Hernando Cortez, in turn, conquered the Aztecs. In his magnificent banquet hall, Montezuma, Emperor of the Aztecs, greeted Cortez and offered him this drink in a golden goblet. Cortez, astounded by the delicious flavor of “Chocolatl,” demanded to know the ingredients. Montezuma, the gracious host, told him it contained ground corn, cacao beans, vanilla pods and honey. Alas, Montezuma not only lost the secret of his favorite beverage, his riches and his empire, but also his life, as Cortez executed him shortly thereafter.

When Cortez returned to Spain, he brought with him a great deal of gold, silver and jewels plundered from the Aztecs. Of even greater importance, he also brought cacao beans and vanilla pods, which the Spaniards call “Vainilla,” meaning “Little Scabbard”. The drink made from cacao beans and vanilla pods was an instant success and became extremely popular throughout Europe. At first it was a luxury only the nobility and very rich could afford, as for eighty years, vanilla was used only in the chocolate drink. In 1602, Hugh Morgan, apothecary to Queen Elizabeth I, suggested that vanilla could be used as a flavoring by itself. This was the first step on the path toward the dominant position vanilla now holds in the flavor world.

THE WORLD’S FINEST VANILLAS Nielsen-MasseyVanilla Qualities

From a quality standpoint, the early picked, heat-cured Indonesian vanilla beans are considered inferior, especially the lowest grade cuts. The improved cured Indonesian beans are a definite step up in quality but still fall short in comparison to Madagascar or Mexico.

The beans from Tonga are about halfway between Indonesia and those from the Bourbon Islands and Mexico. The beans from India and Uganda are close to Madagascar and Mexico, but are still lower in quality. Nor do they have the history yet of producing consistent quality vanilla beans year after year.

The Madagascar beans, finest of the Bourbon Island beans, and the Mexican beans are very similar in quality. In addition, it is believed that the composition of the soil on the various Islands of Tonga and Indonesia is not as ideal as in Mexico, the Bourbon Islands or Tahiti.

Even more, the curing process in Madagascar, Mexico and Tahiti is far superior to other areas of the world because of the level of care taken and the instincts possessed by the curers.

Although Tahitian beans are from a different species (Vanilla tahitensis instead of the more common Vanilla planifolia), they are still high quality vanilla beans. These beans are characteristically fat, plump and moist. Interestingly enough, the tahitensis beans grown in Papua New Guinea are of a lesser quality than those grown in Tahiti and are, in fact, thinner, dryer vanilla beans with not as much depth in flavor.

THE WORLD’S FINEST VANILLAS Nielsen-MasseyVanilla Flavor Profiles

Vanilla beans of the Vanilla planifolia species, grown in various parts of the world, all have slightly different flavor tones. The soil and curing variances produce subtle flavor differences in the different growing regions. The Madagascar Bourbon beans have a creamy, sweet, full flavor with velvet aftertones. The Mexican beans are also creamy, but with a little bit of a spicy note that’s similar to clove or nutmeg.

The vanilla beans from Réunion have a sweet, spicy note, while the beans from Comoros have a slight balsamic note. The beans from Uganda are very similar to the Madagascar beans but have a faint chocolate note in their profile. Beans from India are not as full and creamy in flavor while Tongan beans are of a lower quality with a slightly acidic note.

As mentioned, Indonesian beans, the least expensive, have different flavors. Even those left on the vine longer and cured with improved methods have a flavor that is not as full and round as compared to those from Mexico and the Bourbon Islands. They have a sharper, woodier note to them. Those picked too early and cured over wood fires also have a thinner flavor with a definite smoky tone.

One would expect Vanilla tahitensis to be different than the previously described Vanilla planifolia, and it is. The Tahitian vanilla beans offer a full, fruity, flowery flavor with hints of heliotropes. Meanwhile, the vanilla beans from Papua New Guinea exhibit a flavor profile somewhere between the Madagascar and Tahitian flavor profiles. They do not have the same full, fruity, flowery profile of the Tahitian nor the depth and fullness of flavor as the Madagascar. However, they are frequently sold as “Tahitian” vanilla beans at a significant discount in price as compared to true Tahitian vanilla beans.

Pure Vanilla is an extremely complex flavor. The major flavor component of the vanilla bean is natural vanillin, which may appear as a white crystalline material on well-aged beans. In addition, however, there are about 300 other flavor components, most of which are present only in minute, trace amounts. These include aromatic aldehydes, esters, oils, organic acids and resins, most of which are easily volatized and lost or changed by the presence of heat and/ or pressure during processing. Vanilla is anything but “plain.” Flavor scientists, with all of their sophisticated equipment, have never been able to exactly duplicate the flavor of Pure Vanilla.

Vanilla Extraction

It takes a great deal of experience for the vanilla manufacturer to judge the quality of vanilla beans. Not only do they vary from the various areas of the world grown, but also they will vary within a crop. Judgment has to be based on appearance and odor in addition to the normal analytical results.

At Nielsen-Massey Vanillas, extreme care is taken with regard to the quality of the vanilla beans used. Each shipment is checked bundle by bundle as they are chopped to make sure they meet the highest standards. Because the importers from which Nielsen-Massey purchase know the quality they demand, these importers select these beans by going over their vast stocks for each shipment. They know any beans not meeting Nielsen-Massey standards will be returned.


Once the vanilla beans arrive in this country and are delivered to the vanilla extract manufacturer, the flavoring matter must be extracted from the beans. Alcohol is necessary to remove the flavoring matter from the vanilla beans. Most manufacturers recirculate alcohol and water over the beans under varying degrees of heat and/or pressure, depending on the manufacturer. This method is a very quick method, lasting only 3-5 days. Nielsen-Massey, on the other hand, believes heat and/or pressure is detrimental and uses none in their extraction process. Under precise temperature control, 365 days a year, Nielsen-Massey gently extracts the over-300 delicate flavor components from the vanilla beans at 72 degrees Fahrenheit, using specially constructed stainless steel extractors. After the beans are loaded into an extractor, a series of menstruums, solutions of alcohol and water, are continually recirculated over and through the beans by use of pumps. The finished vanilla is then filtered into one of the holding tanks until bottling.


Direct extraction can only be done to a Four-Fold strength. Above that, the vanilla is placed in a vessel and under heat and/or pressure, the liquid is driven off to concentrate the vanilla. For example, if a person were to place ten gallons of a One-Fold vanilla in a container and concentrate it down to one gallon, that person would have one gallon of a Ten-Fold vanilla. However, if one were to taste this ten-fold vanilla versus a retained sample of the original one-fold, one would notice a distinct difference in flavor.

Nielsen-Massey’s extraction process takes a matter of weeks, rather than days. This slow gentle extraction requires three weeks to five weeks to complete, depending on the batch type being produced.


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