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Examining Extracts

Examining Extracts

Vanilla extract. Without even peeking into someone’s pantry, you can almost guarantee that there’s a bottle in there. In fact, chances are you have at least one half-full bottle in your pantry – maybe even more. Here at Savory Spice, we keep five different types of pure vanilla extracts on hand: Madagascar, Double Strength Madagascar, Organically Sourced Madagascar, Mexican, and Tahitian. We also offer Natural Vanilla Extract, a partially pure option that is a more economical choice for customers.

But we don’t stop with vanilla. From Almond to Orange, we stock variety of extracts. Our extensive and diverse line of extracts has led to many questions over the years. We decided to answer the most common ones here, in effort to demystify these wonderful flavors and make them more accessible and, hopefully, more frequently used in your kitchen!

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Why do Savory’s extracts taste so good?

Our customers often comment that our extracts taste better and are stronger than most other extracts. This is because the best essential oils and other natural ingredients are used to flavor our extracts. Because our extracts are both bake and freeze-proof, you won’t experience a loss in flavor when baking or freezing your foods. Additionally, our extracts are all gluten-free and nearly all of them contain no added sugar.

How should I store extracts at home?

If stored correctly and with a secure cap, most extracts can last for a year or more – with as much flavor as they day they were purchased. Of course, there are exceptions:

  • The intensity and flavor of both Vanilla and Peppermint will continue to build over time. So don’t worry if you only pull your Peppermint Extract out of the pantry during the holidays; you can still keep it – tightly sealed, of course.
  • Citrus extracts, like our Organic Pure Orange extract, contain a naturally occurring flavor compound called D’Limonene. This compound is prone to oxidation, which will have a negative impact on flavor. Cool temperatures and dark environments will help to slow the oxidation process, for that reason we recommend keeping your citrus extracts in the refrigerator.

What is the difference between “Organic,” “Pure,” “Natural,” and “Imitation” extracts?

Making Vanilla Extract
DIY Vanilla Extract is a fun project
and it makes a great gift!

There is currently no universal naming or labeling criteria for extracts (with the exception of vanilla), so naming conventions can vary from company to company.

We believe in making our product names honest, accurate, and clear. To ensure that our naming conventions are easy to understand and completely forthcoming we use the following criteria in naming our extracts:

  • “Organically Sourced"
    Our organically sourced extracts contain only organic alcohol, water, and pure flavoring compounds.
  • “Pure"
    Our pure extracts are derived exclusively from the named product; for example, Pure Lemon Extract contains only alcohol, water, and pure lemon oils.
  • "Natural"
    Our natural extracts are made from plant-based ingredients, but sometimes that flavor is derived from other parts of the named source such as leaves or stems of a vanilla orchid instead of the bean. In other cases, a natural flavor could come from an entirely different plant, but it is always a natural source and never artificial.

What is an extract and how is it made?

First, think of a coffee maker. Every time you brew coffee, you’re essentially making an extract. In this case, that means running a solvent (water) through a product (coffee beans) to extract the flavor compounds produces an extract (the brewed coffee). Unlike your roasted coffee beans, however, the flavor compounds and essential oils found in most botanicals are not water soluble, but rather oil soluble. Alcohol is used with water to extract solvents and to keep the essential oils from separating (as oil and water are prone to do). For this same reason, solvents are used to maximize the extraction of flavor compounds that aren’t water-soluble. When looking at many of our extracts you’ll likely see one of the following: propylene glycol or polysorbate.

What are propylene glycol and polysorbate and why are they used in extracts?

As previously mentioned, most essential oil and flavoring compounds are oil soluble and will not disperse in water. Propylene glycol (or PG) is recognized by the FDA as being safe for use in food and is a clear, slightly syrupy solvent that has a bitter and slightly sweet taste but is otherwise flavorless. PG is highly effective in dispersing oil soluble flavor compounds and, because most extracts are added to food in very small amounts, the flavor is rarely perceptible in food. The propylene glycol used in our extracts meets the food grade requirements established by various national and international agencies, including the U.S. Food Chemical Codex (FCC) as well as the European Council Directive for food additives. PG is not used in any of our organically sourced extracts. Polysorbate is an efficient emulsifier, used in small amounts to help essential oils and flavoring compounds mix evenly into the water and alcohol base, ensuring that the flavor of the extract remains consistent from the beginning of the bottle to the end. Polysorbate is approved by the FDA for use as an emulsifier.

What makes your vanilla extract different from others?

By law, to be labeled a Pure Vanilla Extract, the liquid must be at least 30% alcohol and use only vanilla beans in the flavoring. A single vanilla bean has about 300 unique flavoring components. However, many of these are delicate flavors that occur in trace amounts and must be carefully extracted to maintain their distinctive flavors. For that reason, a high quality vanilla extract begins with the beans. Only premium quality, sun cured vanilla beans are used to create our Pure Vanilla Extracts. To capture maximum flavor from the variety of unique flavor compounds, our extracts are produced using a proprietary cold extraction, slow percolation method. First, the beans are chopped using a specially designed machine that does not produce heat. Then, they are placed into custom stainless steel extractors that operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Damaging heat and pressure are never introduced into this process. This cold extraction process takes nearly a month to complete but ensures that the deep, rich flavor and delicate sweet, floral notes of each flavor compound are captured in our vanilla extracts. Like our other extracts, our Pure Vanilla Extracts maintain their premium flavor whether used in baking, freezing, or other applications.

What are some of the different ways I can use extracts in recipes?

  • Vanilla Extract, Pure Madagascar 2X
    If you’re one of those people who always adds a bit more vanilla extract than the recipe calls for, try our double strength vanilla. Made with twice as many vanilla beans as the traditional vanilla extract, using the same amount will intensify the rich vanilla flavors.
  • Homemade Vanilla Extract
    For a fun DIY project, try making your own extract using various alcohol bases (vodka, bourbon, rum) and different types of vanilla beans (Madagascar, Mexican). It's easy but takes a little planning because the beans need to infuse for at least a month before the extract is ready to use.
  • Natural Lavender Extract
    Like many extracts, lavender extract is wonderful in cookies or shortbread, as well as cakes or icings. Try adding other flavors, like vanilla or lemon, when you use lavender extract.
    Maple Fried Chicken
    Up your brunch game with Maple Fried
    Chicken & Savory Cornmeal Waffles


    • Maple Fried Chicken
      Best paired with the salty flavor of Good On You Vegan Chicken Salt in Savory Cornmeal Waffles, the Maple Extract in this fried chicken recipe adds a hint of sweetness to this classic favorite.
    • Lemon Poppy Seed Protein Pancakes
      The lemon in this breakfast (or breakfast for dinner!) recipe comes from fresh lemon zest but the pleasing nutty and floral notes in the pancakes actually come from the addition of Almond Extract.
    • Chocolate-Hazelnut Syrup
      This syrup, featuring Natural Hazelnut Extract, is perfect for sweetening your coffee and plays on the flavors of a favorite chocolaty sweet spread. Try using this syrup as a topping for ice cream or in steamed milk for a fun twist on a classic cocoa.

    For more recipes featuring our extracts, visit our Extracts product page and browse through the extract flavors. Select any extract and scroll down to see recipes that use that product. Have more extract questions? Contact us at

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