Vanilla is the most world prized flavor. It is obtained from the beans of a tropical vine of genus vanilla. The beans at harvest do not have the characteristic vanilla fragrance but requires curing processes to obtain the vanilla fragrance.
All curing methods involve four basic phases:
Wilting or killing of the beans that stops the natural respiratory metabolism and vegetative life of the pod.
Sweating the wilted beans which involves a fairly rapid dehydration and slow fermentation. The characteristic flavor compounds develops here during which sugars, phenols, vanillin compound are developed by enzymatic and non-enzymatic reaction.
Drying of sweated beans at very slowly at a lower temperature to 20-25% moisture.
Conditioning of the dried beans in closed boxes for a few months where they finish the development of their characteristic fragrance.
Vanilla Standards: Vanilla extract is the only flavoring material with a US FDA standard of identity. It is included in the code of Federal Regulation (21CFR-169).
When word vanilla flavor or vanilla appears under the ingredients list of any food product, it means that ethyl alcohol is used to extract natural vanillin (vanilla flavor or vanilla) from vanilla beans. It is not consider as Halal because it was extracted with alcohol and alcohol remained in the vanilla flavor.
Vanilla Extract is a liquid solution containing natural vanillin which is obtained from vanilla beans by use of alcohol and water solvent. FDA both in USA and Canada requires that vanilla extract solution must contain a minimum of 35% ethyl alcohol otherwise it will not called as Vanilla Extract.
Vanilla Extract is a Haram ingredient according MCG's Halal standard or Criteria.
1. Vanilla Beans: Vanilla beans are identified as the properly cured and dried fruit-pods of Vanilla planifolia in vanilla standard 21-CFR-169.3. Vanilla Extracts and 2. Vanilla Powders: The reminder of the standard is involved with describing in general terms how the extract is made and what other ingredients can be used. It also defines other products related to pure vanilla extract (what constitutes them and how they can be labeled).
3. Vanilla extract (extracted with alcohol contains minimum of 35% alcohol).
4. Vanilla flavoring or vanilla or natural vanilla flavor or natural flavor(extracted with alcohol)
5. Concentrated vanilla flavoring or oleoresin vanilla(extracted with alcohol)
6. Vanilla powder (vanilla flavor is first extracted with alcohol then alcohol is evaporated to make vanilla powder and it is not consider as Halal by MCG)
Vanilla Bean Specks (vanilla bean specks are made mostly from vanilla bean seeds which are obtained after alcohol extraction of vanilla beans for vanilla flavors. The seeds leftover after alcohol extraction are dried and grind to make vanilla bean specks. This is called exhausted Vanilla bean specks in the food industry. Vanilla beans specks without alcohol extraction are very expensive, so many ice cream manufacturers use exhausted types of vanilla bean specks. Our Islamic Scholars consider exhausted vanilla bean specks as not Halal because it is obtained after alcohol extraction. Alcohol is used on vanilla beans to get vanilla flavor and it contaminates the Halal vanilla bean seeds)
Vanilla beans (vanilla beans mentioned under ingredients statement are vanilla beans left over after vanilla flavor is made through alcohol extraction. MCG do not consider them as Halal because use of alcohol).
Vanilla beans in spice isle of any supermarket is pure Vanilla beans (21CFR-169.3) available for food manufacturers for processed foods and common consumers for home bake products (McCormick brand of pure vanilla beans are available in supermarkets and it is Halal). This 100% pure vanilla beans available in supermarkets are Halal because they are not treated with alcohol.
Vanilla Powder: This is a standard vanilla product (21CFR-169.179). Vanilla powder is a mixture of vanilla oleoresin or both with one or more of the following optional blending ingredients (a) Sugars, (b) dextrose, (c) Lactose, (d) Food Starch, (e) dried corn syrup, (f) Gum acacia. Vanilla powder is not Halal because the alcohol is evaporated to make vanilla powder
Vanilla Sugar: Vanilla sugar is different from vanilla powder with sugar. Vanilla Sugar is made with sugar and vanilla extract and considered as Haram ingredient because of alcohol.
VANILLA WITHOUT ALCOHOL:
Modern methods of extraction are used in obtaining vanilla flavor such as supercritical carbon dioxide extraction and reverse osmosis for concentration. These methods produce useful products for industrial flavoring but they either fail to fit the regulatory requirements (alcohol extraction) for standard products, they are very expensive. These specialized products differ in solubility, flavor profile, and appearance but add to the list of natural vanilla flavoring available to food and beverages manufacturers. Mostly available in Europe.
A flavorant made from synthetic or artificial vanilla which can be derived from lignin of whey sulfite liquors (not Haram) and is synthetically processed from guaiacol and eugenol. The related product, ethyl vanillin, has 3.5 times the flavoring powder of vanillin.
Vanillin and ethyl vanillin are both Halal artificial vanilla flavors.