Any baker will tell you that vanilla is one of the most essential ingredients that you can have in your pantry. Although only a small amount goes into most recipes, vanilla can improve the flavor of just about everything it touches. I try to keep a good supply of vanilla on hand, both extracts and vanilla beans, and even make vanilla sugar with previously used vanilla beans so I have yet another source. I recently tried Rodelle’s Vanilla Extract and Organic Vanilla Extracts. Rodelle is a company that specializes in vanilla and vanilla extract, and though you may not have heard of them (perhaps they’re not carried in your local market) they have been around since 1936, brewing vanilla beans in search of the best flavor for bakers to use.
The reason that Rodelle’s Vanillas are interesting is that the company says they have one of the highest vanillin levels on the market in their products. More vanillin translates to a better, stronger vanilla flavor. I tried both the Pure Vanilla and the Organic Vanillas in batches of simple vanilla pudding (as well as in a few cake recipes) to compare the flavor and was very happy with the results. The vanillas are both made with bourbon vanilla beans and have a wonderfully sweet, floral flavor to them, which came through nicely in my test recipes. Even if you smell them straight out of the bottle, you will definitely have a stronger vanilla overtone than you might with some other vanilla extracts, where the alcohol smell/flavor can be more upfront.
I will say that both had very similar overall flavor profiles, so if you’re trying to decide which to try, it’s up to you whether you prefer organic products or not. You’ll get great results either way, especially in a recipe that is vanilla-heavy – such as vanilla pudding or vanilla cupcakes with vanilla frosting – where you can really taste the difference between a high quality vanilla and a lower quality one.