Bakeries say price of pure vanilla is up 300 percent

December 13, 2017 06:53 PM

ROCHESTER, NY (WHEC) - The price of a key holiday ingredient is skyrocketing. Local bakeries and chocolatiers say the cost of vanilla has hit an all-time high, with some suppliers no longer selling it.

Some local bakeries report pure vanilla now costing 300 percent more than this time last year.

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Bethany Soures, the owner of Goodness Cakes, will only bake with the best. She uses pure vanilla paste for her cakes and cookies, absorbing the cost so customers don’t have to.

“This is the highest it has ever been. There are some stores that won’t even offer it anymore,” said Soures, who buys from local suppliers to support other family owned and operated businesses.

“It is worth it, you need to use it. People can tell when you don’t use it, similar to butter,” she said.

There are many reasons the star ingredient is getting pricier.

“People don’t realize how hard it is to grow a vanilla bean. You have an orchid, with the seed growing out. You have to pick those by hand. It is very labor intensive,” explained Jennifer Posey with Hedonist Artisan Chocolates.

She explained in addition to how difficult it is to grow and harvest, Americans are also transitioning from using imitation vanilla to the real thing, and the supply simply isn’t there. It also takes about five years to grow before a harvest, making it a pricey gamble for farmers in a limited number of countries where it grows.

Hedonist Artisan Chocolates pairs up with Genesee Brewery to make the pilot batch series. In the past that included the highly sought out Salted Caramel Chocolate Porter, which used vanilla beans a key ingredient. However, it won’t be made this year.

“At Genesee Brew House, they’re doing a Chocolate Scotch Ale with our chocolates, which is fantastic. They’re changing up from their Salted Caramel Porter,” explained Posey.

Salted caramel can still be found at Hedonist, with chocolatiers becoming more inventive in how they make it and using up every last seed of vanilla.

“We slit it, seed it with a knife and put it in the pot carefully. We make sure every tiny granule is in there. We then cook our caramel with the pod inside it so it gets as much flavor out of that pod as possible,” said Posey.

While many home bakers use imitation vanilla to save money, Soures with Goodness Cakes suggest splurging on the real thing since the holidays only come once a year.

She points out you can freeze it for a few months to use at a later date.


Stephanie Robusto

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