Vanilla extract is a solution containing the flavor compound vanillin. Pure vanilla extract is made by macerating and percolating vanilla beans in a solution ofethyl alcohol and water. In the United States, in order for a vanilla extract to be called pure, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires that the solution contain a minimum of 35% alcohol and 13.35 ounces of vanilla bean per gallon.[1] Double and triple strength (up to 20-fold) vanilla extracts are available.

Vanilla extract is the most common form of vanilla used today. Mexican, Tahitian, Indonesian and Bourbon vanilla are the main varieties. Bourbon vanilla is named for the period when the island of Réunion was ruled by the Bourbon kings of France; it does not contain Bourbon whiskey.

Natural vanilla flavoring is derived from real vanilla beans with little to no alcohol. The maximum amount of alcohol that is usually present is only 2%-3%. Also on the market is imitation vanilla extract, a wood by-product usually made by soaking alcohol into wood which contains vanillin. The vanillin is then chemically treated to mimic the taste of natural vanilla.

Pure Vanilla extract is then added in small amounts to ice cream and other food products.

VANILLA PRODUCTS

  • Vanilla extract (extracted with alcohol).
  • Vanilla flavoring (extracted with alcohol)
  • Concentrated vanilla flavoring (extracted with alcohol)
  • Vanilla powder (no alcohol is used)
  • Vanilla-Vanillin extract (extracted with alcohol)
  • Vanilla-Vanillin flavoring (extracted with alcohol)
  • Vanilla-Vanillin powder (Vanillin may be obtained with or without alcohol)

There is no animal derived ingredients used in the products above.

VANILLA WITHOUT ALCOHOL

  • New Methods of Extractions: Modern methods of extraction are used such as supercritical carbon dioxide extraction (C02 Extract) and reverse osmosis for concentration. These methods produce useful products for industrial flavoring but they either fail to fit the regulatory requirements (alcohol extraction) for USFDA Standard products, and they are extremely expensive. These specialized products differ in solubility, flavor profile, and appearance but add to the list of natural vanilla flavoring available to food and beverages manufacturers. This product is halal.
  • Vanilla beans: Pure Vanilla beans are readily available for both food manufacturers for processed foods and common consumers for home bake products
  • Vanilla Flavor: A vanilla flavor may be in fact being non-alcoholic.
  • Vanilla Powder: This is a standard vanilla product. Vanilla powder is a mixture of ground vanilla beans or vanilla oleoresin or both with one or more of the following optional blending ingredients (a) Sugars, (b) dextrose, (c) Lactose, (d) Food Starch, (e) dried corn syrup, (f) Gum acacia. Vanilla sugar is different from vanilla powder with sugar. Vanilla Sugar made with sugar and vanilla extract is considered as Haram ingredient because of the alcohol content in the extract.
  • Vanilla-Vanillin Powder: This is the same, as vanilla powder but contains not more than one ounce of added vanillin. This is also a standard product. But this product is Halal only if added vanillin is obtained from vanilla bean without alcohol.

HALAL STATUS OF VANILLIN:

Artificial or synthetic vanillin do not contain alcohol and it is also Halal or Kosher certified. It is a Halal ingredient.

Artificial or synthetic vanillin is made with all Halal ingredients and Halal process without alcohol. Lignin, used to make the artificial vanillin, when derived from botanical product is Halal. Methane when used as a solvent is considered as a Halal solvent.

ISLAMIC SCHOLARS’ VIEW ON THIS TOPIC:

Some Islamic Scholars considered a food product Not Halal if it is made with a flavor containing alcohol as a solvent. But others considered it Halal because they said the small or large quantity (less than 2%) of the product does not intoxicate a person. Please consult your Sheikh or Imam on this topic.

The ruling depends on a few factors:

• First, If a large quantity of a substance intoxicates, then a small quantity of that substance is forbidden. Conversely, if the large quantity did not intoxicate, then that substance is not forbidden for the reason of intoxication. That is confirmed by the following hadeeth

” ما أسْكَر كَثيرُه فقَليلُه حَرَام “

“Whatever intoxicates in large quantities, then a small quantity of it is forbidden.” [Related by Abu Dawood, an-Nasaey and others authentically]

Now, does the ice cream made with vanilla extract intoxicate? No one would say that. So, when does it become an intoxicant? If you extract the Alcohol from that extract in the ice cream and isolate it, then it becomes intoxicant and forbidden to consume even if it were trivial in amount, because more of the same will result in intoxication.

• Second, would the mixing of Alcohol with the food products make them impermissible or filth?

According to the stronger position (of the minority), Alcohol is not physical filth. Thus, it doesn’t turn the mixture into filth. Even, if it was filth, submersion in a large quantity of tahir (pure substance) according to the stronger position, will not affect the ruling of the pure substance unless one the characteristics of Alcohol prevailed (color, smell or taste).

Does mixing it with another substance change the ruling of the new substance even if it was not filth? Yes, if it made the new substance intoxicant.

• Third, would it be permissible for Muslims to add Alcohol to food products? No – as in the case of turning Alcohol into Vinegar – that would not be permissible for Muslims, though, it would be permissible for them to consume it if it was added by others, and most certainly if it occurred naturally in a food (even bread goes through fermentation) so long as the consumed substance is not intoxicant even in large quantities.

Based on the aforementioned, we believe that it is permissible to use food products that contain the vanilla extract.