Lillian Uncovers the Mysteries of Vanilla Extract, Maple Syrup, and Arrowroot Powder

Vanilla Extract Facts

Vanilla Extract is one of those ingredients that I initially thought about as a whole. It is such a basic ingredient that I didn’t really think about where it came from or what it was made of. As if it was just pulverized vanilla bean somehow made liquid. But I’ve learned the error of my ways. Just try to buy some vanilla extract in a conventional store (as opposed to a health food store), and you’ll find pretty quickly that vanilla extract is more complicated than you thought.

So here are the basics:

  1. The cheap stuff tends to have sweetener in it which is gross and unnecessary. So buyer beware!
  2. It’s mostly alcohol.
  3. The distilling process removes the gluten from alcohol, but I’m paranoid, so I only buy vanilla extract that states clearly that it is gluten-free.
  4. It’s crazy-easy to make, it just takes a long time. Which may be why I haven’t made any yet. But it’s on my list. icon smile Vanilla Extract Facts

What’s the Difference Between Grade A & Grade B Maple Syrup?

I love maple syrup. I love maple candy. I love maple sugar.  However the maple syrup grades in the grocery store never made any sense to me. It’s always seemed like Grade B is the tastier grade, so shouldn’t it get the A? And what’s the difference between them anyway?

What is Arrowroot Powder?

It’s a starch made from a root (called the arrowroot) that is ground into a fine white powder. It is good for digestion, and is a fantastic corn starch replacement for those of us who avoid corn for one reason or another.

About the Author

Lillian Medville is a food blogger who is allergic to gluten/grains, dairy, cane sugar, and soy. Her struggle to understand her own allergies (It took her ten years for her to figure them all out) and to help others battling similar issues inspired her to create Lillian’s Test Kitchen, where she has been making other people’s gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, soy-free, cane-sugar-free recipes for the very first time on camera for the past several years. You’ll also find her chatting about real foods, the emotional impact of food allergies, and on her other things that make her happy on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.

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I make my own vanilla! It is so easy and good, well worth the wait. This winter I plan to make citrus extracts as well.


That’s the plan! I made limoncello this year and that turned out fine, so I feel like I’m on a roll with the citrus/alcohol combinations.

Paula Perez
Paula Perez

You should totally make your own vanilla extract! I made my first batch last spring with vodka and 1/4 lb. of Madagascar vanilla beans from It comes out to about $25 for 3 cups of vanilla. Considering the price you pay for that little 4 oz. bottle of vanilla extract, that’s a WONDERFUL deal! I just made my 2nd batch today – it took about 30 minutes to chop up all the beans and scrape the goop out. Then you just stick in in the cupboard and shake it whenever you happen to see it and remember. I let mine brew for 3 months last time. Then strain it through a cloth to get all the pieces out before you use it. By the way, I love your videos and I just LIKED you on facebook!