Commercial Extracts

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About
Commercial flavor extracts, unlike kitchen-made extracts, are highly concentrated and are added to foods in tiny quantities, a few drops or a fraction of a spoonful in a whole dish. Vanilla, almond, mint, and anise are common examples. Some extracts and oils are prepared from actual herbs and spices, while others are prepared from one or a few synthetic chemicals that capture the essence of the flavoring, but don’t match it in complexity and mellowness (artificial extracts often taste harsh and off). The advantage of synthetic extracts is their low price.