Mexican vanilla

FINDING: Though pure vanilla extract is available widely in general groceries and specialty shops, Mexican vanilla extract is typically available only in Mexican groceries. What is sold there is often not pure and may contain coumarin, the consumption of which the FDA discourages. The best quality, coumarin-free pure Mexican vanilla extract (and Mexican vanilla beans) can be purchased in some specialty stores and via the internet @

CHOOSING: Because making an extract from vanilla beans is expensive, exacting work, vanilla extracts vary widely. Price is frequently an indicator of quality. The best extracts are remarkably different from average ones, as pure extracts are from imitation (or “doctored” pure) ones.

STORING: A cool, dark place for up to a year.