I managed to find some vanilla extract without sugar at Amazon, but it's 35% alcohol. When I tasted it, it was like drinking alcohol straight. I depend on vanilla to make my smoothies and other things more tasty on Paleo. Do people think I should swear off of it because of the alcohol? Thanks so much.
Outside of vanilla paste I've never seen vanilla extract that contains sugar. The alcohol used is what draws the flavour out of the bean. I make my own and will use rum, bourbon, and vodka, sometimes tequila, and will both cook and incorporate into cocktails. You can always buy the fresh beans and do a little scraping into your smoothie or just infuse scraped beans and their pods in dairy or coconut milk if the alcohol makes you nervous in any way, store in the fridge in a jar once cooled.
Nerd Stuff: The development of alcohol-free vanilla extracts is really for those who cannot or do not wish to tolerate alcohol into their diets (i.e. halal labeling purposes). Alcoholic vanilla extracts do not mean they are inferior to alcohol-free ones; on the contrary, they are far more superior in terms of the extraction process as well as being the best carrier substance for its aroma.
Both versions undergo the same initial process of extraction using alcohol; water based solution in the extraction process is sometimes used for certain ingredients, however, using water solution on vanilla to extract it is almost as good as wasting it (kind of like.. having purchased a new clothing item and get it ruined the first time you wear it out. It’s heartbreaking). Where the processes of the two kinds differ, is in the finishing step. To make the extract alcohol free, a solution of propelyne glycol (or sometimes glycerol) is added. Then, there you have it.
The drawback in alcohol-free vanilla extract is the loss of its aroma. Try smelling the two together if you ever get the chance to, and you’ll notice the big difference.
So unless you really must (or wish), there is no real value in using an alcohol-free extract.
And if you really think about the servings of it:
Basically you won't be running rampant around town shedding clothes if you use it so IMO - use away! :)
You're not going to be using enough of the extract that the alcohol content matters from a biochemistry standpoint. Use it, just be aware that it will inhibit freezing (ie, ice creams).
I wouldn't be concerned about the alcohol; I don't think it will make your foods less healthy. I've never tasted straight vanilla but I would think it would have a boozy taste- if it tastes good in your smoothies, go ahead and use it.
Just FYI, vanilla extract will always have alcohol - it's made using ethyl to extract the vanilla flavonoids. If you found a brand that doesn't also have sugar next to the alcohol, that's probably a good thing. :-)
ITA with all of the above. My aunt and uncle got us a reusable vanilla extract container. Basically it's a split vanilla bean in a bottle and when you "run out" you pour in more bourbon or rum or whatever dark alcohol you have on hand. Since you are using a tbsp at the most (any more is overwhelming) likely it won't kill you. Even if you aren't cooking it.