Beyond Vanilla---Exploring Extracts & Flavorings For a Dummy !

ci_lantroFebruary 22, 2011

After I had to buy lemon extract for that wonderful sour cream lemon cake recipe and after I had a tiny flash of inspiration to include some almond extract into a Waldorf Salad, I realized that there is a whole other dimension of flavoring possibilities that I needed to explore. My pantry is practically bare of any of these possible enhancements to cooking.

Soooo, I'm curious (read that I need tips!) about how you use extracts & flavors other that vanilla. And what are your favorites? And what brands are considered to be among the best...esp. what is a very good raspberry extract & how can I use it? Any & all tips wanted!!

Thank You!!

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I've included a link below from the Cook's Thesaurus that has a lot of information.

I believe oils carry a lot more intense flavor than extracts, but use both. Oils also withstand the assault from heat in cooking/baking better than extracts.

An unusual favorite of mine is Fiori di Sicilia, an all-natural citrus and vanilla-scented flavoring from King Arthur Flour. It's that "secret" ingredient I like to use in 100% Whole Wheat Sugar Cookies, or added to muffins and quick breads. A little goes a long way.

Candy oils are really concentrated and very powerful if you've never experienced them. If a recipe calls for 1-2 teaspoons of lemon extract, you only need 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon of lemon oil. It only takes a drop of lemon oil in mayonnaise, or a drop in butter for lemon-butter.

Durkee Imitation Lemon Extract is 82% alcohol which tends to leave an alcohol/chemical taste and very little lemon taste, so avoid it - there are a lot better choices.

Boyajian is a brand of citrus oils you might like to explore. Best stuff I've every used - true lemon flavor made from natural oil pressed from fresh lemons. No mysterious chemical taste.

I like to add almond extract or cherry flavoring to chocolate pudding. I also like to add coconut flavoring to chocolate pudding and top it with toasted unsweetened coconut.

Another place I get flavorings - Frontier - I like them because they are alcohol-free. I make homemade soda pop and use different flavorings in them. You can also add flavorings to unflavored soda water.


Here is a link that might be useful: Cook's Thesaurus - Extracts and Flavoring Oils

    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 8:30AM
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I put a little lemon oil in oatmeal chocolate chip cookies-hard to identify in the finished product but brightens them up.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 9:20AM
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I think almond extract goes wonderfully with anything cherry, including cherry pie and cherry jam.

I currently have vanilla, almond, orange, lemon, lime, maple, strawberry, banana, mint. Probably more, but those come to mind.

I have the banana because I made some homemade banana pudding for Elery's family at Christmas. The mint goes into frosting and fudge, the almond is a necessity for buttercream in my family. Maple just because I love maple. I do make some candy, and I use the citrus flavors in shortbread.

I really like Penzey's, especially the almond extract. I take off the lid and sniff the stuff every time I walk into the store at Penzey's.


    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 10:48AM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

I like flavored liquors: Frangelico (my favorite), Grand Marnier, amaretto, creme de cacao (Fab in a chocolate cake), Kahlua, Bourbon, Rum, Creme De Mint, Kirsch.

I love Boyajian oils too.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 11:23AM
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I don't use any extracts but for vanilla and almond....very occasionally the almond. I don't like what lemon extract tasts like...I prefer to grate some peel into things. christmas, I made something....can't remember what but likely a cookie....and gave one to someone....who said."They are good but I really don't liek so much lemon extract in my cookie"...I told her I had used no extract, just juice and grated peel!!
Real maple syrup for maple extract, creme de menth for mint, peppermint schnapps or crushed candy cane for peppermint....etc.
I used to keep an array of extracts but found that often they had evaporated before I used then the second time.
Linda C

    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 12:01PM
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Pretend you didn't read Grainlady's post and no-one else will ever find out about Fiori di Sicilia.

It's BRILLIANT in sugar cookies and let's me sell mine at a premium because no one, locally at any rate, can duplicate the taste.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 12:04PM
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Fiori di Sicilia, definitely.

Natural coconut flavor (Frontier). I blend a small can of crushed pineapple which I've frozen, plain yogurt and a drop of coconut flavor for a healthy tropical summer slushee.

Natural extracts like boysenberry, raspberry, strawberry, are a wonderful boost in winter cobblers and pies. They perk up slightly flatter frozen fruit.

Banana extract and banana liqueur in banana cake and banana cream cheese frosting.

Citrus oils are favorites, as is chocolate extract. And very occasionally natural rose flavor for a colonial pound cake. Rose preceded vanilla as the flavor of choice in early American recipes.


    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 2:37PM
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Carol, I've used rose water as a delicate flavor in pound cakes and other things. Rose extract I haven't tried, but it's in a cake I've been meaning to ask about; I'll do that on another thread. Natural coconut flavor sounds good too.

Vanilla is pretty much the only extract I use. Almond extract very rarely, and only a tiny bit, no matter what the recipe says.
I do use orange oil.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 3:53PM
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I don't care for almond flavoring but love almonds. I've found, in talking to others that lots of people don't like it either. I make banana pudding from scratch but never heard of putting banana flavoring in it...see what a sheltered life I've led.


    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 4:22PM
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I am happy with McCormicks Extracts and flavors but

I order Anise Oil and some others from " Fante-s of Phila "
You can Google it.
I found they are the best for Pizzelles and Biscutti.

For " Vanilla I use " AZETECA VAINILLA Gourmet " from Mexico.
Another is Watkins Original Vanilla.

I don't use much Almond flavor either but I add it and crushed Almonds to my Coco Krispie Treats.
Everyone likes them better than the regular Treats.

Who was the Dummy you are refering to ???

    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 5:06PM
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I think almond can be very easily overdone. DH doesn't care for it unless it's subtle. (In other words, he doesn't quite recognize the flavor but he likes it.) I've had the best luck reducing almond flavoring called for in a recipe by half.

Brands of flavorings differ also. Frontier's alcohol-free I've found nearly as potent as oils, so I'm sparing with them. Bickford's are the same.

I used a touch of fiori di sicilia along with lemon zest in a lemon cream cheese scone. To die for.

For some reason right now, I'm having a flashback to the Watkins salesman who used to appear periodically. I grew up with their products and McCormicks.


    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 5:17PM
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You are right . I use very little Almond Flavor and it makes you wonder, what is this Flavor ???

Guess you knew " Fiori di Sicila " means
" Flower or Blossom of Sicily " Romantic right !!!
Do you have them flashback-s often.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 5:52PM
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I'll also vouch for the Fiori di Sicilia. It's heavenly in a pound cake!

I don't use lemon extract, I buy lemon oil from Hobby Lobby. I also have strawberry extract on hand for when I make strawberry muffins - it adds a little "punch" to the flavor.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 6:33PM
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I like almond extract, but I agree that it is easy to over do it. I use very little to give the flavor a boost but leave one guessing as to what it is. I also like lemon and vanilla extract. Not so fond of the others I have tried.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 9:45PM
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try almond extract in peach cobbler....oh my goodness!! Just a little goes a long way. Peach Pound Cake too. Well most anything peach is enhanced with almond.
I love the citrus oils too...lemon, orange, lime. bought the 4 bottle set from King Arthur. Again, a little goes a long way.
Always wondered about Fiori di Sicilia, now must definitely get some ASAP

    Bookmark   February 23, 2011 at 4:57AM
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For you Fiori di Sicilia fans out there.... Add it to your sweet dough recipe and make Fiori di Sicilia sweet rolls. Instead of applying cinnamon/sugar to the dough, top it with a very thin layer of orange marmalade (you may need to add a little water to the marmalade for easier spreading). Form, rise, bake as usual. Then stand back - you'll need the space when you take your bows (LOL)!


    Bookmark   February 23, 2011 at 5:10AM
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Gosh, lots of great info here. Thank you to all! I have a list going and Fiori di Sicilia (which I'd never even heard of) is at the top of the list.

Lou, da dummy would be me. I started realizing that little essences of flavorings would add a whole other dimension to my cooking. For instance, I had dried some lemon & orange zest, hating to see it go to compost, and have been adding little pinches of zest here & there to brighten up a dish. (Thanks to DSII who watches a lot of cooking shows & is always reaching for lemon when he has some time to cook.) Esp. since I have to cook lo salt. Just short of amazing what just a pinch of something can do. But I have been kinda' stumbling around in the dark so I was curious about how all else other cooks were using flavorings, etc. to enhance the finished product.

I really like almond extract, almonds not so much. And I used to use it but, when I had to fish my bottle out of basement storage, realized that I hadn't used it since we moved--like about 15 years ago!! So, I'm thinking, 'WTF, did my brain get zapped by that dastardly shrink ray???'

Oh, and for the curious, 15+ year old almond extract tastes exactly like water. And it prolly was water owing to the fact that it was a large institutional sized w/ Al CO Hol. Add two DS kiddoes who lived in the basement to that equation...

Wandering slightly off topic, Grainlady, how do you make soda pop? Besides adding flavoring to soda water?

I apologize for not getting back sooner...embarked on what I estimated to be a 3-4 hour project yesterday and it turned into more like 8-10 hours. Now I'm babbling so I'll quit before I start to drool!

    Bookmark   February 23, 2011 at 8:22AM
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ci lantro-

The short answer is flavoring, sweetener/s, water, yeast and allowing it to ferment. You can find all kinds of recipes on-line, but I'd also suggest checking your local library for a copy of "Homemade Root Beer, Soda & Pop" by Stephen Cresswell. A kit for making Homemade Root Beer is a good way to get started (see link below).


Here is a link that might be useful: Homemade Root Beer

    Bookmark   February 23, 2011 at 9:49AM
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My kids love root beer, Grainlady. Thank you--I'll check it out.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2011 at 10:09AM
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Grainlady & Cilantro:

The closest recipe, I could find to the Old Soda Fountain Root Beer ( 1950-s ) was ,

Keg Style- Caffine free, Root Beer, 2 liter bottle
69 cents , at Walmart.

I have not used any other recipe since.

Please don-t tell me about any bad ingredients. LOL !!!

I like the taste.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2011 at 1:10AM
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I did make root beer once, Lpinkmountain and I drank it when she came to visit. It tasted far more like beer than it did rootbeer, probably because of the fermetation of the yeast.

Anyway, she said she liked it. Me? Not enough to make it again, apparently, because I've never made any more!

I like A&W, the frosty mug kind that I can still get at the A&W drive in in Big Rapids with a chili cheesedog on the side. Yeah, I kow how bad it is for me.

I did make homemade root beer barrels too, it was surprising how easy they were.


    Bookmark   February 24, 2011 at 2:08PM
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I used A&W before I found the one at Walmart.
- - - - - - - - -

Was it hard to shape the slats for the Barrels ???

    Bookmark   February 24, 2011 at 3:04PM
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I've made Sarsaparilla tea that tasted like root beer but never made root beer.

Like Bumblebeez, I tend to use liqueurs rather than extracts, and my favorites are Frangelico, Amaretto, Cointreau, Godiva Chocolate liqueur, and several versions of Kahlua, including Mocha (my favorite) and hazelnut. I really like Mocha Kahlua on ice cream but am almost out and am having trouble finding it again. I think they may make it only at Christmas and New Year's. The liqueurs are not as strong as extracts and work in a lot of drinks as well as recipes. I use them a lot with ice cream but also in other creme anglaise recipes such as Bavarian Cream.

For extracts, I only have vanilla (Cook's brand, which is okay) and almond (brand unknown). I seldom use the almond extract since I generally substitute Amaretto instead.

I've noticed that Indian markets sell a lot of extracts, but I have not used many of them yet, including several that I have in my pantry.


    Bookmark   February 24, 2011 at 3:15PM
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Late to the post here, but I like rose water, orange flower water, almond extract and of course, vanilla. In addition to baked goods, also wonderful to add a little something to tapioca or rice pudding. And since I purchased "Mes Confitures: The Jams and Jellies of Christine Ferber" I've experimented much more with putting a bit in homemade jams and preserves. I don't use straight lemon extracts as we have trees with lemons year-round. But I definitely use lemon zest in all kinds of dishes to "brighten" them up, sweet and savory dishes alike.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2011 at 10:53AM
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Regarding Fiori di Sicilia: I've been wondering how much to use when substituting in a recipe. i.e. 1 tsp. vanilla = 1/2 tsp. FdS?

    Bookmark   December 19, 2011 at 5:10PM
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I love Fiori di Sicilia in cinnamon rolls in addition to sugar cookies, shortbread, & even biscuits for strawberry shortcake. It's very good stuff.


    Bookmark   December 19, 2011 at 5:42PM
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I have two big bottles of the Fiori di Sicilia so i'm looking for ways to use it. King Arthur sent me a free bottle when I asked about some of the sediment in the one I ordered. He said it was normal but he sent me another one just in case. I've made sugar cookies with it and they added a nice flavor though I think I added a bit too much.

What's interesting is that most people taste orange in it but I definitely taste lemon. I don't taste orange at all.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2011 at 5:58PM
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Oh I also bought one of those droppers made for kid's medicine. It's perfect because it already has the measurements in it in 1/2 teaspoon intervals, doesn't spill and helps you to not stain your counters or skin.

Jenn, I wouldn't use more than 1/2 t in any recipe unless it was huge. I think I used 1/2 t in my sugar cookies and it was very strong.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2011 at 6:03PM
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Thank you, chi83. I've been looking for a 'formula' on the KA site, something that says for example "use 1/4 tsp. FdS for each 1 tsp. vanilla", but couldn't find one. I may write to ask them if there's a specific amount to use. If I learn anything I'll post it here!

    Bookmark   December 20, 2011 at 12:22PM
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I am very interested in trying the Fiori di Sicilia (King Arthur is backordered on the 4 oz bottle). Can someone tell me what the ingredients are (I assume listed on the bottle).


    Bookmark   December 20, 2011 at 2:02PM
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