Vanilla extract is one of the widely used ingredients in our kitchen. Known for its rich aroma and sweet flavor, most of us use it in baking and cooking. However, not many people know that excess consumption of this pantry staple can cause intoxication.
This article discusses why drinking excess vanilla extract is harmful, what amount of it can make you drunk, what potential consequences it can cause, the safer alternatives, tips to prevent its misuse, and more.
What Is Vanilla Extract?
Vanilla extract is a common essence that has become a fundamental ingredient in baking cakes, cookies, ice creams, and more.
When added, it improves the taste of anything you bake and imparts a rich, intense vanilla flavor and aroma with darker, woodsy notes. Its sweet scent makes things more appetizing and delectable.
Vanilla extract is less processed and costlier due to its more potent and purer flavor. This flavor comes from a molecule called vanillin present in vanilla beans. As the beans mature, the level of vanillin increases and produces vanilla flavors,
Can Drinking Vanilla Extract Make You Drunk?
There is something that contradicts the popularity of vanilla extract. That is, can this innocent kitchen item get you drunk? For this, we need to look at its composition.
The vanilla extract comprises mature vanilla bean pods (aged 3 to 4 months), ethyl alcohol, water, and traces of sweeteners, including corn syrup, sugar, or dextrose.
The alcohol content depends on the type of vanilla extract you purchase, i.e., “pure” vanilla or artificial vanilla product. According to FDA standards, “pure vanilla extract” can contain up to 35% alcohol by volume or ABV, equivalent to a shot of hard liquor like vodka or bourbon. However, the exact amount varies by brand.
Considering the high levels of alcohol in pure vanilla extract, drinking it excessively can put a person at risk of alcohol poisoning.
Can You Get Drunk By Adding Vanilla Extract To Food?
You can’t get drunk by adding this extract to food, and ethyl alcohol dries up when exposed to heat. It dries up more quickly than water and needs a temperature of 173 F to dry up.
The pure extract can only get you drunk when you add it to foods that do not need baking. You will undoubtedly get that buzz if you add it to beverages in excess amounts.
How Much Vanilla Extract Do You Need To Drink To Get Drunk?
Pure vanilla extract is quite potent when you consume it in large amounts. Mostly, you get pure vanilla extracts in small one-ounce bottles. Based on a 35% ABV, taking at least 3-4 ounces of one-ounce bottles of vanilla extract can lead to intoxication.
Why Are Kids Consuming Vanilla Extracts In Large Amounts?
Many teens looking to experiment or recover from alcohol addiction may think about drinking vanilla extract in high amounts to try and get drunk. Though vanilla is thrice the price of traditional alcoholic beverages, it is much more accessible, which is the appeal.
They head to the baking section of the grocery store and buy a bourbon vanilla extract bottle. They then mix the extract into some beverage like coffee, drink it, and head to school, where they get buzzed. This new way to get a “buzz” is causing serious concern worldwide.
The reason why kids are drinking vanilla extract is because of its easy availability in the grocery store. It is not in a locked alcohol closet, so kids can easily sneak it into their kitchen cupboard and access it.
Furthermore, using vanilla extract is legal, and everyone has the right to buy and consume this readily available alcohol.
Potential Risks Due To Higher Vanilla Extract Consumption
The high alcohol level of the flavoring extract is enough to result in central nervous system depression, just like if you drank hard alcohol. The hangover you get from high consumption of vanilla extract is severe. You may begin to feel a range of unpleasant and potentially serious side effects, such as:
- Throbbing headaches
- Stomach upset and digestion issues
- Trouble sleeping
- Skin irritation and inflammation
- Slow and shallow breathing
- Dilated pupils
- A warming sensation
- A significant drop in blood pressure
- Poor judgment
Parents need to know of this new way children are getting buzzed and how it could mean a trip to the emergency room. They must make their kids aware of the potential side effects of reckless consumption of vanilla extract and help them come out of it.
Tips To Prevent Misuse Of Vanilla Extract
Authentic vanilla has vast amounts of alcohol. So, if you have kids in your home or people with a history of substance abuse, it is always a good idea to take precautions and ensure they don’t feel the urge to misuse vanilla extract.
The best way to prevent its misuse is to look for alcohol-free alternatives to vanilla extract in the market, which work almost the same. Below are some substitutes for a vanilla extract that would give you a pleasant flavor without side effects. Though they are less dense and have a less powerful vanilla aroma than the extract, they can surely impact your food.
a. Maple syrup
b. Vanilla milk
c. Fruit zest
e. Instant coffee
f. Spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom
g. Alcohol-free pure vanilla flavorings.
If you can’t abstain from using vanilla extract in your kitchen, here are a few helpful ways to prevent its misuse:
- Check the alcohol percentage before you buy vanilla extract
- Store your vanilla extract in a locked pantry to make it hard to access
- Mark the bottle after every use to detect its misuse
- Buy vanilla extract in smaller amounts
- Last but not least, educate your family on the risks of overconsumption of vanilla extract.
On a concluding note, though vanilla extract contains alcohol, its typical culinary usage is unlikely to intoxicate you. Understanding the safe consumption limits and using them only in the recommended amounts for culinary purposes will keep you safe from potential side effects.
I am a passionate beer connoisseur with a deep appreciation for the art and science of brewing. With years of experience tasting and evaluating various beers, I love to share my opinions and insights with others and I am always eager to engage in lively discussions about my favorite beverage.