New in the Market: Nielsen-Massey Vanilla

by Jo-Ann Heslin, MA, RD, CDN on April 9, 2012 · 3 comments

We love to try new foods. Some are great. Some don’t measure up and some become staples in our kitchen. See what you think.

Almost everyone has a bottle of vanilla in their cupboard. We often take this humble flavoring for granted but adding vanilla to a recipe can have a marked effect on the end product. Not only does it add the distinct vanilla flavor but it boosts other flavors. In small amounts it enhances chocolate, coffee, fruit and nut flavors. When used with citrus it covers the acid bite.

Nielsen-Massey produces excellent vanilla products. We recently tasted two.

Organic Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract does not contain bourbon. The term is a geographic reference to the Bourbon Islands – Madagascar, Comoro, Reunion, Seychelles and Mauritius – off the coast of Africa. These islands are one of the four major vanilla producing areas in the world. This product has a vibrant vanilla flavor and aroma. It is USDA certified organic, gluten free, and kosher (cRc).

Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Powder is a very interesting product. It contains maltodextrin (a powdered sweetener less sweet than sugar) and vanilla bean extracts. It can be substituted in equal amounts for liquid vanilla extract and it is alcohol free. We used it on French toast and to flavor coffee. It can be sprinkled on toast with butter to satisfy the sweet tooth of a dieter. It is gluten free and kosher (cRc).

Vanilla products do not need to provide a nutrition label because they provide little or no calories and offer only trace amounts of any nutrients. The main purpose of vanilla is to add flavor to a food.

Nielsen-Massey is a brand worth trying.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Matt Nielsen April 10, 2012 at 9:36 am

Hello! Thank you for the great review of our products and for your endorsement. We really appreciate it! I wanted to point out that the maltodextrin in our Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Powder is not a sweetener, but a corn starch. Maltodextrin acts as a neutral base to encapsulate the pure vanilla extract and keep it as a free flowing product. It is both sugar free and alcohol free. Thank you!

Best Regards,
Matt Nielsen
Nielsen-Massey Vanillas


Rick May 4, 2012 at 6:27 pm

I understand that the maltodextrin is to keep it free flowing, but maltodextrin is a polysaccharide made from starch and starch is a chain of glucose molecules so to call it sugar free may be somewhat misleading. It still has the same amount of calories and carbs as sugar and, in fact, it has a higher glycemic index than table sugar (sucralose) and it is rapidly absorbed by the body as glucose (simple sugar). In small amounts it may not be significant for most people but it should be avoided by anyone on a ketogenic diet – it can and will cause an insulin spike even in relatively low amounts. I hear this is terrific vanilla, but I would like to know the actual amount carbs/sugar in this product as I keep my carbs to about 20 grams or less a day. (i.e. a packet of Splenda is labeled zero carbs but actually has .9g which is 5% of my daily total.) I am sure a teaspoon or so will not bring me out of ketosis, but every gram adds up and needs to be tracked.

I am also curious as to why there is sugar in the vanilla extract, a product that does not typically require sugar.


Craig Nielsen May 23, 2012 at 3:17 pm

Hi Rick – Thanks for your comments.

Maltodextrin is actually a polymer composed of D-Glucose units and is not a sugar. For one teaspoon (a typical serving of the powder), our Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Powder has 5g of carbohydrates and 0g sugar. Larger serving sizes may have minimal amounts of sugar as a result of the natural occurring sugars in the vanilla bean. Nutritional labeling laws allow for small amounts of sugar to be present but not declared. When used in a recipe, especially one meant to provide multiple servings, the powder will have very little affect on the overall nutritionals of the dish.

In regards to why we use sugar in our vanilla extract, most vanilla extracts will contain sugar or corn syrup (though we don’t use this). The sugar increases the solubility of the extractives from the vanilla bean, clarifying the liquid. It also smoothes out the edges of the flavor. Sugarless vanilla will be “muddy” looking. There are products specifically formulated to be sugarless such as our organic product line though the vanilla beans are always going to impart some naturally occurring sugars on the end product. As with the powder, when a tablespoon is spread out over an entire recipe, it will have minimal impact on the nutritionals of the end dish.

I hope this answers some of your questions,

Craig Nielsen,
CEO, Nielsen-Massey Vanillas


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