PBS Test Kitchen is a television show on the Public Broadcasting System and is just that–a test kitchen. The cooking professionals perform taste tests of one given product each episode as well as test recipes and equipment and explain the science behind what works in the kitchen, hence the name: Test Kitchen. The show is in its tenth season and is hosted by Christopher Kimball.
The Brands Compared
The taste test portion of the show compares four different brands of the same or similar product. The taste test of vanilla extract compared the following four brands and types of vanilla extract:
– McCormick Pure Vanilla Extract
– Durkee Imitation Vanilla Extract
– Gold Medal Imitation Vanilla Extract
– McCormick Organic Pure Madagascar Vanilla Extract
The PBS Test Kitchen pros added the vanilla extract to milk to perform the taste test.
A Few Facts About Vanilla Extract
Imitation vanilla extract is a by-product of paper production or is a derivative of coal tar. By law, pure vanilla extract has to contain at least 30 percent alcohol. Pure vanilla extract is much more expensive than imitation vanilla extract. In baking, the “flavor and aroma compounds in vanilla begin to bake off at around 280 to 300 degrees,” according to the Test Kitchen.
The Results of PBS Test Kitchen — Vanilla Extract
The bottom line of the vanilla extract taste test is that for baking, the PBS Test Kitchen found that either pure vanilla extract or a good quality imitation vanilla extract works equally well.
The winner in the vanilla extract taste test was the McCormick Pure Vanilla Extract. The imitation that was also good was the Gold Medal Imitation Vanilla Extract.
More PBS Test Kitchen Taste Tests
Check out these links for more PBS Test Kitchen taste test results:
PBS Test Kitchen — Taste Tests Dark Chocolate Chips
PBS Test Kitchen — Taste Tests White Chocolate
PBS Test Kitchen — Taste Tests Unsalted Butter