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Alcohol in Vanilla Extract and Enslaved Edmond Albius

Desserts are the star of the holiday feasts and alcohol is commonly the drink consume in much larger amounts, similarly to desserts. Alcohol and desserts, have something in common that very few people recognize, that we will get to later in examining real Vanilla Extract, not Imitation. Our holiday desserts tables are the beneficiary of Edmund Albius, an enslaved 12 year old boy.

Edmund invented the technique to pollinate vanilla by hand on orchids quickly and profitably. Vanilla is an orchid, the most profitable orchid in the world. Young Albius technique revolutionize the Vanilla Bean industry. Some sources of history reports that botanist Charles Morren invented the technique, but the technique Morrren used was much slower than what Edmund Albius invented in 1841. Edmund technique change the game for French Colonists in the colony of Madagascar, in making it extremely profitable. The impact of Albius was so impactful, that he was granted clemency for a stealing crime for his enormous contribution to the vanilla industry. The books said Albius died in poverty, but he made other extremely wealthy, as so much the case for contributions made by black people. It is sad that he was not compensated right for his work and hence had to steal anything. We have to tell the true history and if we don’t, someone will tell the wrong history or what is convenient.

Back to the dessert table and alcohol. What most people fail to realize is that real Vanilla Extract made in the United States, requires 13.35 oz at 25% moisture of vanilla bean to be mix with 1 gallon of alcohol at a minimum of 35%Alcohol by volume(70 proof) to be called extract. Most extracts has an alcohol content between 70 and 80%, which is in the range of a rum, vodka, and tequila. So in real reality at home, someone could also make vanilla extract with Moonshine(or a tax paid variation like I did), but know the price of real beans are not inexpensive. The word extract in the label, means it is alcohol or otherwise it is called vanilla flavors. Scientifically, alcohol is a solvent that pull out insoluble compounds needed to make extracts and tinctures. Imitation extract or what you may get in international countries maybe cheaper in price, because you may not get real vanilla beans, you may get a flavor substitute. However, any old baker will tell you that you need that old vanilla extract often in parents and grandparents pantries for several years, as they treat this ingredient with respect. The preference is always real vanilla extract even though if prices go real high, the imitation vanilla is substituted except for those old church bakers that don’t sacrifice quality.

In the near future, I will bottle up some vanilla extract I made during the pandemic to get rid during the pandemic. Be sure to contact by email if interested.


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