Nielsen-Massey Vanillas


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Nielsen-Massey Pure Vanilla Products & Applications
Q: Why do you call your extracts "pure"?
A: While "pure" is a wonderful adjective that describes our beliefs about food and food ingredients, the use of the word "pure" in this sense is actually a classification by the FDA. The FDA dictates that pure vanilla extract must contain 13.35 ounces of vanilla beans per gallon of liquid and be 35% alcohol. The agency also limits the permissible ingredients beyond beans and alcohol. If interested, click here to read the FDA's definition and here for the FDA's addendum on how to determine the 13.35 ounces.

Q: What is an extract?
A: The taste and fragrance of many fruits, plants and nuts are contained in their essential oils. These oils can be "extracted" by steeping the ingredient in alcohol so that the natural oils can dissolve and be kept in suspension. We use alcohol because the oils aren't soluble in water. On a more technical note, the FDA dictates that the solution must be at least 35% alcohol in order to be called an "extract".

To make our own Pure Vanilla Extracts, we go a step further and use our exclusive cold extraction process instead of heat extraction. By protecting our vanilla from heat, we ensure that even its subtlest flavors survive extraction. Our process gently distills vanilla's essential oils, preserving the more than 300 distinctive flavor compounds present in the beans.

Q: What is a fold of vanilla?
A: A fold is the relative measure of strength of vanilla extract. Single-fold vanilla is typically what the consumer buys at the market. For food processing, single-, two-, three- or four-fold vanillas are typically used. Single-fold vanilla must, as dictated by the FDA, have the extractive matter of 13.35 ounces of vanilla beans to a gallon of liquid. Two fold uses 26.7 ounces of vanilla beans, so it contains twice as much extractive matter and is twice as strong. Three-fold contains 40.5 ounces and four-fold contains 53.4 ounces, making them, respectively, three or four times the content of one fold. This is a standard of identity set by the FDA for Pure Vanilla. Beyond four-fold, heat and pressure, which damage the flavor profile, would need to be used to produce higher fold vanillas, such as ten-, fifteen- or thirty-two-fold.

Q: Do you develop custom blends?
A: Yes. Using our vanilla extract production expertise and our knowledge of flavor interactions and processes, we can develop a custom blend that best meets the needs of your application from a flavor profile and/or price point perspective.

Q: What is vanilla powder? How should I use it?
A: Our Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Powder is simply our premium vanilla extract encapsulated on a cornstarch base. It's all-natural, alcohol-free and sugar-free. Because it's in powder form, it works well in mixes and other dry, liquid-sensitive applications, such as cakes, cookies and pancakes. The powder also comes in handy for foods that are sensitive to color and could be affected by the amber tint of our extracts, such as icings or beverages.

Q: What is vanilla bean paste? What applications can it be used in?
A: Our Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Bean Paste is made by combining our famous Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract with vanilla pod seeds in a slightly viscous base. Use it when you want your recipe to have the added visual flair of actual vanilla seeds, such as with crème brûlée and ice cream. Pure Vanilla Bean Paste can be used measure-for-measure the same as Pure Vanilla Extract or to replace whole vanilla beans in recipes.

Q: Can vanilla be used as a non-characterizing flavor?
A: Yes, vanilla is a very effective flavor enhancer. Used in smaller amounts, vanilla will intensify chocolate, coffee and nut flavors as well as all fruit flavors. In fact, when used with citrus fruits, it tends to cover their acidic bite, giving them a creamier taste.

Q: How should we store your vanilla products?
A: Our vanilla extracts, whole beans, pastes and powders should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature and away from direct heat and sunlight. We recommend you don't place our products in the refrigerator or freezer. For extracts, refrigeration or freezing will speed up the natural separation of the vanilla essence from the liquid base. For vanilla beans, refrigeration can quicken the growth of mold, limiting the life of the beans.

Nielsen-Massey Pure Flavor Products & Applications
Q: What is an extract?
A: The taste and fragrance of many fruits, plants and nuts are contained in their essential oils. These oils can be "extracted" by steeping the ingredient in alcohol so that the natural oils can dissolve and be kept in suspension. We use alcohol because the oils aren't soluble in water. On a more technical note, the FDA dictates that the solution must be at least 35% alcohol in order to be called an "extract".

Q: How can your pure flavor products help in the production of my food products?
A: Our flavor products provide a delicious, all-natural flavor that you can count on to be consistent and of a high quality every time you order. We've developed our flavors to be a premium product, but the efficiency of our production allows us to offer them to you at reasonable rates. Most importantly, we're going to work with you, providing superior service all along the way, from product development to the arrival of your order at your door.

Q: How should we store your pure flavor products?
A: Store in an airtight container at room temperature and away from direct heat and sunlight. We recommend you don't place our products in the refrigerator or freezer. Refrigeration or freezing will speed up the natural separation of the ingredient from the liquid base.

About Vanilla
Q: Where is your vanilla grown?
A: We obtain most of our vanilla from the world's main vanilla-growing countries: Madagascar, Indonesia, Mexico, Tahiti, Uganda and Papua New Guinea. As with wine, chocolate and coffee, the vanilla from each country has its own distinctive flavor profile and characteristics as a result of the different climates, soils, curing methods and species of vanilla used. For instance, Madagascar Bourbon vanilla has a creamy, sweet flavor. Vanilla from Indonesia tends to have a more woody, bitter flavor and for that reason is often blended with vanilla from other regions. Mexican vanilla, in addition to creamy and sweet notes, also has a bit of spice to it. Tahitian vanilla carries with it the fruity and flowery attributes of the islands from which it originates. Ugandan vanilla is very similar to Madagascar Bourbon but has a note of chocolate while vanilla from Papua New Guinea is a cross between the flavor profiles of Madagascar Bourbon and Tahitian.

We offer both single-origin extracts and blends. If you're looking for a specific flavor profile or price point, a blend that incorporates beans from several regions might be the solution you need.

To learn more about where vanilla comes from, click here. Or, to learn how to best utilize the different types of vanillas in your cooking and baking, click here.

Q: Does the base for a manufactured food product dictate which vanilla should be used in that product?
A: Most definitely. Some bases will completely mask a vanilla while others may react poorly with certain vanillas, resulting in an off-flavor taste. Contact us and we can help you determine which type of vanilla or vanilla product would be best for your application. We can even work with you to develop a custom blend.

The Truth About Imitation Vanillas
Q: What is vanillin?
A: Artificial vanillin is an ingredient meant to imitate the naturally occurring vanillin found within the vanilla bean. Artificial vanillin doesn't come close to matching the complexity and depth of flavor offered by natural vanilla because it's simulating only one component out of over 300 different flavor components inherent in the bean. And, on the slightly unappetizing side of things, artificial vanillin is actually produced as a by-product of the wood industry or from petro-chemicals.

Dietary Needs & Nielsen-Massey Certifications
Q: What do the certification symbols that are on your labels mean?
A: The below image details what each symbol stands for. For more information on the certification agencies and what the certifications mean, continue reading on to subsequent questions.

Certification Logos

Q: Are your products and facility Allergen-Free?
A: Yes, our products and facility are allergen free. Our entire team undergoes allergen training, and we monitor incoming and outgoing shipments for possible contamination.

According to the Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America, dairy, soy, eggs, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish are responsible for 90% of allergic reactions. Nielsen-Massey products and our facility are free of all these potential allergens. This includes our Pure Almond Extract, which is nut free because it consists of bitter almond oil derived from stone fruit pits.

Q: Can Nielsen-Massey pure vanilla and flavor products be used in the production of Gluten-Free products?
A: All our products are certified Gluten-Free by the Gluten Free Certification Organization (GFCO), making them safe for consumption by celiacs and others looking to avoid gluten. Our Pure Vanilla and Flavor Extracts as well as our Rose Water and Orange Blossom Water are made using sugar cane alcohol. Our Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Powder is made using maltodextrin, a modified cornstarch, and our Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Bean Paste uses sugar, water, Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract, exhausted bean seeds and gum tragacanth, a natural thickener. Our vanilla beans are simply beans and contain no other ingredients. As a side note, we're proud to have been the one of the first extract and ingredient suppliers in the U.S. to have received this certification.

Q: Is Nielsen-Massey Certified Organic?
A: We have been a certified organic manufacturer since 1996. Quality Assurance International certifies the following Nielsen-Massey products as Organic: Organic Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract and Organic Madagascar Bourbon Gourmet Vanilla Beans. Our Netherlands facility is certified organic by Skal, the inspection and certification agency for organic production in the Netherlands.

Q: Are Nielsen-Massey products Kosher?
A: Yes, all our products are certified by the Chicago Rabbinical Council, CRC, as Kosher Pareve. Additionally, our vanilla beans are certified Kosher for Passover.

Q: Are Nielsen-Massey products GMO-Free?
A: Yes. We use all-natural ingredients in our pure vanillas and flavors. The raw materials (such as vanilla beans or oranges) used to produce the specific flavor are free from any genetically modified proteins or DNA. The alcohol used as part of the extraction process is derived from GMO-free sugar cane.

Our Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Powder and Pure Vanilla Powder also have maltodextrin, a starch made from corn, as an ingredient. This starch, which acts as a carrier for the vanilla flavor, has been tested and certified as not being made or mingled with any genetically modified corn.

For our organic products, Quality Assurance International and Skal certify these products as GMO-Free as part of the organic certification process.

Q: Does Nielsen-Massey offer any Fair Trade certified products?
A: We offer Fair Trade Pure Vanilla Extract, which is certified by FLOCERT, a national, nonprofit Fair Trade certification organization. Fair Trade Certified Vanilla ensures that small-scale farmers in developing countries receive a fair price and use sustainable farming practices, stabilizing vanilla-producing communities and protecting the environment.

Q: Why is there sugar in some of your vanilla extracts?
A: Sugar is actually one of five permissible ingredients, besides vanilla, water and alcohol, the FDA allows in Pure Vanilla Extract (see their definition here). It helps in the extraction process of the vanilla extract by softening the beans and making it easier to extract the flavoring material from the beans. Additionally, it helps keep the vanilla compounds extracted from the bean in suspension providing clarity to the product. Vanilla extracts that don’t use sugar or some other sweetener often look cloudy because the matter is floating around in the liquid. While other sweeteners work (and some producers even use corn syrup), we use 100% all-natural crystalized cane sugar because we prefer the reliable quality and taste. In the end, the sugar content in our extract makes up less than 5% of the end product, an amount of sugar that is insignificant nutritionally, considering most recipes call for only a teaspoon of vanilla (0 carbs, 15 calories), which is then spread throughout the entire dish.

Q: Are Nielsen-Massey products acceptable for vegetarians or vegans?
A: The following products are vegetarian and vegan:

Organic Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract
• Vanilla Beans
• Pure Flavors
• Vanilla Extracts crafted in our Netherlands plant
• Vanilla Extracts, Pastes and Sugars produced in our US plant after March 2016

Batches of our vanilla extracts, pastes and sugars produced in our US plant before March 2016 used sugar that had been filtered with bone char (a normal process that refines brown sugar into white and removes flavor notes that could otherwise adversly affect our vanilla). Sugar is used to soften the beans and keep the resulting vanilla flavoring matter in suspension (you can read more about this above).

Our Pure Vanilla Powders are made by encapsulating our vanilla extract on a cornstarch base. The vanilla extract used to make the powder uses sugar that has been filtered with bone char. However, due to the process in which the powder is made, there isn't any sugar remaining in the final product. Hence, the powder is sugar-free in its final ingredient list but does come into contact with sugar (and, in turn, bone char) in its production.

If you are developing a vegan or vegetarian product, simply let us know and we will be happy to make sure your needs are accommodated accordingly.

About Nielsen-Massey
Q: Where are Nielsen-Massey pure vanilla and flavor products manufactured?
A: We have two state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities, one at our Waukegan, Illinois headquarters and one at our plant in Leeuwarden, Netherlands. Our products can be found throughout North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Australia and New Zealand.

Q: What size food manufacturers do you work with?
A: Any. Whether you're a large international manufacturer or a small company, we want to work with you to produce exceptional food products and become your trusted pure vanilla and flavor supplier.

Q: What is Nielsen-Massey's donation policy? How can I request a donation for our organization?
A: It is Nielsen-Massey's general policy regarding donations for charity that the inquiring organization must be a registered 501(c)(3). This is to best ensure that product and monetary donations are used in the manner in which they are presented. Donation requests should be submitted to

Q: How can I purchase Nielsen-Massey products?
A: Nielsen-Massey sells to fine retailers, restaurants, food manufacturers and specialty distributors worldwide. If your business falls into one of these categories, please email or contact us with your Tax ID Number, telephone and contact person, and we will respond right away. You can also click here to find a manufacturing representative. If you are an existing customer, you can find more information about how to put in a new order here.

If you are a consumer, please click here to find a store in your area, catalog or website that sells our products.

Do you have a specific question you would like to ask concerning our vanilla products? Please contact us.

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