Article: Banana Bread 101: Mexican vanilla - check the label

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Image Banana Bread 101
By Arlene Marshall on April 28, 2010

Why is it that all Banana Bread is NOT created equal?

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Apr 29, 2010 2:06 PM CST
Name: Cat
Edinburg, TX
in the deep south tip of Texas
FYI: Legally imported Mexican vanilla must meet the US FDA requirements. However, back in 2008 the FDA issued warnings about Mexican vanilla containing coumarin.

Pure vanilla is made with the extract of beans from the vanilla plant. Mexican vanilla is frequently made with the extract of beans from the tonka tree, an entirely different plant that belongs to the pea family. Tonka bean extract contains coumarin. Since 1954, coumarin has been banned from all food products sold in the United States.

Consumers should be cautious when buying vanilla in Mexico and other Latin American countries. FDA advises to look for "vanilla bean" on the label's ingredient list. Don't buy the product if it says "tonka bean" or has a vague ingredient list or no list. The label should also indicate it meets the US FDA requirements.

I live in south Texas and throughout the expanse of my work I see all kinds of food products imported from Mexico being rejected due to contamination from filth, chemical/lead levels and yes, bug parts! I also see many counterfeit product labels that are added on once a product has been smuggled into the US. This is still an ongoing buyer beware.

I still buy the Mexican vanilla - but I use it just as potpourri. I pour it into a candle cup or simmering pot to make the house smell nice like I spent the day baking!!!

~ Cat
My idea of housework is to sweep the room with a glance.

Apr 29, 2010 4:23 PM CST
Name: Arlene Marshall
Twin Lakes, IA & Orange, CA
Zone 4B
Thank you for pointing this out.

We are aware of this issue; we are very careful about the Mexican vanilla we buy and it is over the top on other vanillas for flavor.
Yum Yum Divas ~ ~ "Most recipes are not invention . . . but evolutions"
Apr 29, 2010 10:16 PM CST
Name: Ivy T
Manhattan, New York
I find this subject very interesting. I recieved a bottle of Azteca brand vanilla from Mexico as a souvenir in 2007 that now has a expired date. I was afraid to use it so it was never opened. I am looking at the bottle at this moment and it says that it is made from vanilla beans extract but does not contain coumarin. I always thought that labels could be changed so that the tourist would buy it. Thanks for giving me a way to use it eventually as a way to make the house smell good.
Pause for Paws.
Apr 30, 2010 6:28 AM CST
Name: Arlene Marshall
Twin Lakes, IA & Orange, CA
Zone 4B
The first bottle I had was a liter bottle and it lasted 20 years. And if you are working in the garden and flies are biting you, if you rub the vanilla on your skin, the flies won't bite you.
Yum Yum Divas ~ ~ "Most recipes are not invention . . . but evolutions"
Apr 30, 2010 7:29 AM CST
Name: Cat
Edinburg, TX
in the deep south tip of Texas
Does it work on mosquitoes too?

I love the smell of vanilla. Used to be able to get a litre bottle of Mexican vanilla for about $2.00 here. The price has gone up - haven't checked lately.

We also pour it on the corn in the feral hog traps. Someone said they can smell from a long distance and they'll go into the trap - haven't caught a wild hog lately - maybe they are getting smarter?

~ Cat
My idea of housework is to sweep the room with a glance.

Apr 30, 2010 4:36 PM CST
Name: Arlene Marshall
Twin Lakes, IA & Orange, CA
Zone 4B
Ha Ha . . .don't know about mosquitos . . I am very allergic to them so I don't go outside when they are out unless there is a breeze.
Yum Yum Divas ~ ~ "Most recipes are not invention . . . but evolutions"
Apr 30, 2010 5:10 PM CST
One of the best natural insect repellants that I've discovered is made from the clear real vanilla (not the grocery store vanilla extract which is mostly alcohol). This is the pure vanilla that is sold in Mexico. . I use it half vanilla and half water and find that it works great for mosquitoes and ticks, don't know about other insects. It's nice that you don't smell like a chemical plant but a cookie! Or 1 T. vanilla to 1 cup water; mix and apply on skin

Lavender Oil
Use lavender oil, and dab it on your pulse points ( use it on your wrists, behind ears, temples, behind knees, and on ankles). Smells wonderful, but apparently the insects don't think so.


Planting marigolds throughout the yard also helps keeping the insects away
May 2, 2010 2:59 PM CST
Glendale, Arizona
Our bottle is dated 12/85 and still smells and tastes great. Says Extracto Liquido de Vainilla, Paisa. Purchased in Guadalajara by friends who owned a home there then. No ingredients on the label. But we are still kicking after using it all this time.
Another we have purchased later is not pure, has water, alcohol, etc. Haven't dipped into that bottle yet, and might not. A local Mexican grocery chain carries Mexican vanilla. I'll have to read the label next time in there.

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