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View Full Version : Can you get drunk on pure vanilla extract?


sethdallob
06-13-2001, 04:53 AM
I bought one of those Costco sized bottles of "pure vanilla extract." On its' ingredients list is the following:

"Water, Alcohol (35%), Corn Syrup and Vanilla Bean Extractives."

Now with 35% alcohol content, this seems like a cheap ($15 for about a liter of stuff) way to get very blitzed. It can't be denatured alcohol, so why isn't it sold as liquor? Further, what is alcohol doing in pure vanilla extract? I thought that it was the liquified scrapings of the vanilla bean...

EvilGhandi
06-13-2001, 05:02 AM
Yep

pluto
06-13-2001, 05:33 AM
Alcohol is used as a vehicle in many flavorings, vanilla being the notable example. It happens to be a good solvent.

FWIW, Betty MacDonald, in The Egg and I, wrote about the lumberjacks who used to break into the camp kitchen and steal the vanilla extract to get drunk. So they switched to artificial vanilla, which is non-alcoholic. They still broke in. They still got drunk. Hmmmm.

flodnak
06-13-2001, 05:36 AM
The relatively high alcohol content keeps the stuff from going bad too quickly. Most people have the opened bottle sitting around on a shelf for months if not years, usually not under the best conditions, so some sort of preservative is needed.

Yes, you can get drunk from vanilla extract... if you're desperate enough. Try taking a swig of the stuff and you'll see what I mean. The small amount you mix in your chocolate chip cookies gives the batter a pleasant flavor, but straight down the hatch it's amazingly disgusting.

AWB
06-13-2001, 07:10 AM
Originally posted by flodnak
Yes, you can get drunk from vanilla extract... if you're desperate enough. Try taking a swig of the stuff and you'll see what I mean. The small amount you mix in your chocolate chip cookies gives the batter a pleasant flavor, but straight down the hatch it's amazingly disgusting.

Too true. I tried just a taste of straight vanilla, and almost vomited.

Another sounds-good-but-isn't baking ingredient is baker's chocolate. It comes in mini-Chunky sized bricks. But unsweetened chocolate is hard to swallow. :)

Chief Crunch
06-13-2001, 08:04 AM
Orange and lemon extract have 80% ethyl alcohol; however, I can't imagine anyone being able to tolerate drinking a significant amount of the stuff with the possible exception of a guy I knew in college.

FWIW, Betty MacDonald, in The Egg and I, wrote about the lumberjacks who used to break into the camp kitchen and steal the vanilla extract to get drunk. So they switched to artificial vanilla, which is non-alcoholic. They still broke in. They still got drunk. Hmmmm.

Non alcoholic or imitation vanilla usually contains propylene glycol, used in antifreeze and can cause an intoxication similar to alcohol.

Cartooniverse
06-13-2001, 08:04 AM
Originally posted by AWB
Too true. I tried just a taste of straight vanilla, and almost vomited.

Oh man, AWB, you slay me. Here you are, a highly respected and well-seasoned Doper....and your secret dream to be named to the Straight Dope Science Advisory Board shows through again :D

Here, have a laminated I.D. Card. It states that you are now an accepted member in good standing of the SDSAB. And, please turn your head to the right before vomiting. :)

Cartooniverse

( now, every time I bake I'll think of AWB

China Guy
06-13-2001, 08:09 AM
For what it's worth, my grandfather had a gold mine in Alaska in the 1930's and it was a dry camp. My mother tells about how the cook got rocked by drinking vanilla extract, followed by some pretty intense projectile vomiting and a hangover that probably ranks in the top ten.

Mangetout
06-13-2001, 08:11 AM
I wouldn't be all that surprised if vanillin is toxic in high doses.

Rysdad
06-13-2001, 08:45 AM
Originally posted by Chief Crunch
Orange and lemon extract have 80% ethyl alcohol; however, I can't imagine anyone being able to tolerate drinking a significant amount of the stuff with the possible exception of a guy I knew in college.

...and a guy I knew in high school. He shoplifted four little bottles of lemon extract from a grocery store, drank them, and somehow managed to keep it down. For a while.

At least his spew was lemon fresh.

lestrange
06-13-2001, 08:47 AM
Originally posted by AWB


Another sounds-good-but-isn't baking ingredient is baker's chocolate. It comes in mini-Chunky sized bricks. But unsweetened chocolate is hard to swallow. :) [/B]

too true. My 4 year old demanded a taste of melted chocolate when I was making brownies a few months ago. I told her she wouldn't like it, but no matter what I said, she was determined to have a mouthful of what looked to her like yummy chocolate. So finally, I obliged. She stood there silently with a dismayed expression on her face for about 15 seconds. And then, in a tiny voice, she said, "Help."

We got her mouth rinsed out, and she was fine. The brownies were great. But she never asked for unsweetened chocolate again.

sethdallob
06-13-2001, 12:43 PM
Originally posted by sethdallob
so why isn't it sold as liquor?

Morrison's Lament
06-13-2001, 02:16 PM
Bums in Iceland get loaded on all kinds of baking extracts all the time. Really sad to think of the heartburn they go through to stay a little buzzed :(

--- G. Raven

Ike Witt
06-13-2001, 03:19 PM
Originally posted by Morrison's Lament
Bums in Iceland get loaded on all kinds of baking extracts all the time. Really sad to think of the heartburn they go through to stay a little buzzed


Could be worse. Could be much worse. I don't know if the same problems are still plaguing the First Nations people around Calgary, I hope not. Walking through downtown Calgary I had come across, at various times, bottles of Williams Lectric Shave, Aqua Velva and cans of Lysol. Now I can't even stand the smell of Lysol as an air freshener, I can't imagine how bad it must be to drink.

vanilla
06-13-2001, 04:26 PM
extract?
;)

rebelyell
06-13-2001, 05:22 PM
Originally posted by adam yax Now I can't even stand the smell of Lysol as an air freshener, I can't imagine how bad it must be to drink. [/B]

Actually I think they huff it. Imagine a lung full. Now another. And another. Now pass out for while. When you wake up, roll in filth and then go beg for spare change.

kanicbird
06-13-2001, 05:50 PM
Now with 35% alcohol content, this seems like a cheap ($15 for about a liter of stuff)

35% = 70 proof

Now not being a avid buyer of alcohol but I think you can get 1.75l for around $12 (perhaps $8 in NH) at 90 proof. Vanilla extract might be a solution for underaged drinkers but I don't think it's cheaper.

handy
06-13-2001, 07:57 PM
You can make your own then you can drink it too! Yum:

"To make your own vanilla extract, rub two vanilla beans with the dull edge of a knife to evenly distribute the beans, then cut the
beans in half lengthwise, and place in a bottle of vodka or some other kind of liquor. Martha likes to use the very best vodka
she can find.

Seal the bottle, and set in a cool, dark place for four to six months, shaking the jar occasionally, until the flavor of the extract
has mellowed. The clear vodka will turn a nice deep brown.
http://cyber-kitchen.com/ubbs/archive/MIXES/Good_Thing_Vanilla_Extract.html"


sethdallob, I think that alcohol in food falls under regulations other then than that for alcohol in drinks. BaBaRum balls are loaded with Rum & you can get drunk with those. Yummy!

stochastic
06-14-2001, 02:36 AM
FWIW:
In the 9th grade science class I taught this year, I had my students make vanilla ice cream for a lab. The kids that used alcoholic vanilla extract had a greater difficulty freezing their ice cream than those using an alcohol-free vanilla extract from Trader Joe's. This turned out to be a great demo of the effect of solvents upon freezing points.

Unfortunately, I know that the only thing that several of my less-than-bright-bulb students got out of this exercise was the knowledge that vanilla extract has a fair amount of alcohol, and they probably went home and raided mom's pantry.

Sue Duhnym
06-14-2001, 03:06 AM
Does anyone remember the Family Ties episode with Tom Hanks as the mom's alcoholic brother? Someone found him in the kitchen drinking the vanilla extract.

Or am I insane?

FWIW, Stoli makes a vanilla flavored vodka. Absolut doesn't, but has a damn cool website. Too bad I'm a VOX fan.

Morrison's Lament
06-14-2001, 03:52 AM
BTW, the Vanilla extract thing works out to be MUCH cheaper in countries that have huge alcohol taxes.

In Iceland the taxes are hundreds of percent, but don't apply to baking goods. Hence the "great deal" the bums get.

:(

--- G. Raven

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