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Inspiring Cooks Since 1975.
Established in 1975.

About Nielsen-Massey Vanilla

Nielsen-Massey Vanillas. The finest pure vanilla in the world!

How do they stake such a claim? It starts with a family dedicated to pure vanilla products since 1907. Add the finest vanilla beans available - hand-picked for perfection, and the process has begun. Next, an exclusive cold extraction process slowly and gently draws the delicate and distinctive flavor from the vanilla beans. The result is the finest pure vanilla in the world -- perfect for the home cook or the discriminating chef.

Whether it is pure vanilla extract, vanilla powder, vanilla paste, organic vanilla or whole vanilla beans you're looking for, Nielsen-Massey Vanillas has the expertise to provide the highest quality products to fit your need.

Behind the (Vanilla) Bean:

Nielsen-Massey Vanillas has been producing premium pure vanilla products since 1907. From its ever-popular Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla to custom blends and flavors created for specific customer needs, Nielsen-Massey has earned the reputation as the producer of fine vanillas worldwide.

Those who demand these fine products include manufacturers of premium ice creams and novelties, to chefs of fine restaurants and bakeries. Whether for industrial or retail use, Nielsen-Massey's Pure Vanillas are sought for their pure vanilla flavor and varied functionality. Gourmet food shops and fine grocers stock Nielsen-Massey's Vanilla products on their shelves for discriminating consumers who appreciate the art of fine cooking and baking.

Worldwide, Nielsen-Massey meets the demand for its pure vanilla products. Its corporate headquarters is located in Waukegan, Illinois, USA with ISO certified production facilities in both Waukegan and at Nielsen-Massey Vanillas International, LLC. in Leeuwarden, Netherlands. While Nielsen-Massey Vanillas has its own quality standardization rules, it takes pride in its ISO certification (from Lloyd's Register Quality Assurance Limited) for the production of its pure vanilla products at both facilities. Additionally, Nielsen-Massey is audited annually by the American Institute of Baking, from whom it has received Superior ratings each year since 1990. All Nielsen-Massey's vanilla products are Kosher certified and they have been a certified organic producer since 1998.

The Waukegan facility supplies vanilla products to North America, South America, Central America, and the Pacific Rim. And since 1995, the European facility has provided a cost-effective means of pure vanilla supply to the European, African and Middle Eastern markets. To help meet this need, Nielsen-Massey has 18 global representatives in many countries to provide ongoing support and product information to customers.

As a family owned and managed business, Nielsen-Massey is committed to and truly cares about its customers. With this commitment comes a pledge to continue producing the world's finest Pure Vanillas batch after batch - a promise that has been kept for nearly a century.

Vanilla, the (really) early years:

It is the ancient Totonaco Indians of Mexico who were the first keepers of the secrets of vanilla. When they were defeated by the Aztecs, they were demanded to relinquish their exotic fruit of the Tlilxochitl vine, vanilla pods.

When, in turn, the Aztecs were defeated by the conquering Spaniard, Hernando Cortez, he returned to Spain with the precious plunder - vanilla beans - which were combined with cacao to make an unusual and pleasing drink. For eighty years, this special beverage was only enjoyed by the nobility and the very rich. Then, in 1602, Hugh Morgan, apothecary to Queen Elizabeth I, suggested that vanilla could be used as a flavoring all by itself, and the versatility of the exotic bean was finally uncovered.

Today's vanilla we all know and love:

Today, Vanilla beans are grown in four main areas of the world. Each region produces vanilla beans with distinctive characteristics and attributes. Madagascar, an island off the coast of Africa, is the largest producer of vanilla beans in the world and the ensuing vanilla is known as Madagascar Bourbon vanilla. The term Bourbon applies to beans grown on the Bourbon Islands - Madagascar, Comoro, Seychelle and Reunion. There is no connection with the liquor produced in Kentucky in the United States. Madagascar Bourbon vanilla is considered to be the highest quality pure vanilla available, described as having a creamy, sweet, smooth, mellow flavor.

Indonesia is the second largest producer of vanilla, with a vanilla that is woody, astringent and phenolic. Madagascar and Indonesia produce 90 percent of the world's vanilla bean crop. Mexico, where the vanilla orchid originated, now produces only a small percentage of the harvest. Mexican vanilla is described as creamy, sweet, smooth and spicy. The last of the four major vanilla-producing regions is Tahiti. Tahitian vanilla, grown from a different genus of vanilla orchid, is flowery and fruity, anisic and smooth.

Vanilla, with its wide range of flavor profiles, can be applied to a vast array of products. It is one of the most widely used flavors in the world, particularly in ice cream. It finds its way into sauces in Mexico and cookies in Sweden. Vanilla flavors fruits in Polynesia and perfumes colognes in Paris. Anywhere there is a need for a mellow accent that compliments sweet and savory, plain and fancy, vanilla is there.

Common questions and answers about Nielsen-Massey Vanillas:

  • Is there Bourbon, as in the alcohol, in our Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract?
      No, the term Bourbon is a geographic reference to the Bourbon Islands, Madagascar, Comoro, Reunion, Seychelles and Mauritius, off the east coast of Africa. In the 1800's, they were ruled by the French, whose ruling family at the time were the Bourbons.
  • Where is vanilla grown?
      Vanilla is grown mainly in four countries, Madagascar, Indonesia, Mexico and Tahiti. Vanilla is also grown in limited amounts in Costa Rica, India, Uganda and Jamaica.
  • What type of plant is vanilla?
      Vanilla is the only fruit-bearing member of the orchid family. In all growing areas except Tahiti it is Vanilla Planifolia Andrews. In Tahiti it is Vanilla Tahitensis Moore.
  • How many harvests of vanilla beans are there per year?
      Vanilla beans are harvested once a year.
  • What is a fold of vanilla?
      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, two, three or four fold vanillas are typically used. A single fold vanilla contains the extractive matter of 13.35 ounces of vanilla beans, containing less than 25% moisture, in one gallon of 35% aqueous ethyl alcohol. Two fold uses 26.7 ounces of vanilla beans, contains twice as much extractive matter and is twice as strong. Three fold and four fold are just three or four time the content of one fold. This is a standard of identity set by the FDA for Pure Vanilla.
  • Can Celiacs use Nielsen-Massey Pure Vanilla Products?
      Yes, Nielsen-Massey Pure Vanilla Extract is made using 100% corn alcohol and the pure vanilla powder is made using maltodextrin, a modified corn starch. All Nielsen-Massey products are gluten free.
  • Does all vanilla taste the same?
      No, taste depends on a number of factors. The country of origin of the vanilla beans, maturity of the beans when picked, curing method used of the beans and the extraction method used to produce the extract all will influence the final flavor profile.
  • Does the base for a Mfg. Food product dictate what vanilla should be used in that product?
      Most definitely. Some bases will totally mask a vanilla while others may cause a vanilla to create an off taste. Our experts at Nielsen-Massey have the experience to guide you in selecting the proper vanilla or custom vanilla blend for your food product.
  • Can vanilla be used as a non-characterizing flavor?
      Yes, vanilla is a very effective potentiator for most other flavors. Typically used at lower doses, vanilla will boost chocolate, coffee, nut flavors as well as all fruit flavors. When used with citrus, it tends to cover the acid bite and make them seem quite creamy.
  • Does vanilla only come in liquid form?
      At NMV we also have a Pure Vanilla Powder that consists of our Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Extract dried on a maltodextrin (a modified all natural corn starch) base. This uses a proprietary, low temperature, process to insure the same quality vanilla flavor bouquet in our dry powder as in our liquid extracts.
  • How do you cook with a vanilla bean?
      Split lengthwise & steep seeds & pod.
  • How do you use vanilla powder?
      Formulate to match our extract in strength and usage, it is good as a topping and for color or for liquid sensitive products.
  • What is vanilla paste?
      Formulate to match our extract in flavor, strength and usage, it is the consistency of between a syrup and molasses which holds hundreds of vanilla bean seeds in suspension giving products that physical gourmet appearance.
  • Should vanilla be stored in the cooler or freezer?
      No, vanilla should be stored at room temperature.
  • Can all natural vanilla be clear?
      No, clear vanilla is made by combining propylene glycol or glycerine with artificial vanillin.
  • What is artificial vanillin?
      Artificial vanillin simulates 1 flavor component out of over 250 different flavor components found in natural vanilla. It is a by product of the wood industry or is produced from petro-chemicals.
  • Why do people say Mexican vanilla is bad or dangerous?
      Mexico has no truth in labeling regulations or any organization like our FDA. Many times the vanilla will contain artificial flavors or enhancers, such as Coumarin, which is carcinogenic product that has been outlawed by the FDA for the last 30 to 40 years. If manufactured correctly, under the proper guidelines, it is considered to be a high quality vanilla.
  • Is Nielsen-Massey an Organic Certified producer?
      Yes, we are certified by Quality Assurance International.
  • Are Nielsen-Massey vanilla products kosher?
      Yes, all of our vanilla products are certified by the Chicago Rabbinical Council, CRC, as Kosher Pareve.
  • Where are Nielsen-Massey vanilla products manufactured?
      We have two manufacturing facilities, one in Waukegan, Illinois, USA and one in Leeuwarden , the Netherlands, Europe. Our corporate headquarters is in Waukegan.
  • What is the difference between the new Pure Vanilla Extract and your other Pure Vanilla Extracts?
      Due to increasing costs in the vanilla market and its effect on the retail sector, our new product, labeled Pure Vanilla Extract, has been specifically formulated to reduce cost-in-use. This vanilla is extracted from a uniform blend of choice, select vanilla beans, offering a rich, velvety flavor that meets the same unwavering quality standards as our other pure vanilla extracts.
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