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The Vanilla Company

Extracts & Sugars

Fruit of the Orchid

If you’ve never experienced pure, authentic vanilla, you’re in for a treat. Genuine vanilla extracts will spoil you for the weaker supermarket substitutes many of us grew up using.

No one understands this better than Patricia Rain, who’s known as the Vanilla Queen in tropical regions where the spice is cultivated. Patricia’s interest in vanilla started with culinary curiosity. She wrote Vanilla: The Cultural History of the
World’s Favorite Flavor and Fragrance, a book that weaves the history of vanilla – which is the only fruit of the orchid family — with period recipes and folkloric tales.

Patricia’s curiosity grew into a passion for protecting the people who cultivate vanilla and promoting greater awareness of the socioeconomic challenges in tropical regions where it’s grown — primarily Mexico, Tahiti and Madagascar. One way she’s doing that is by supporting fair trade farms that pay appropriate wages. Through her venture, The Vanilla Company, Patricia offers pure vanilla extracts and sugars that celebrate the unique local characteristics of each area’s crop. For instance, Madagascan bourbon vanilla has the traditional flavor that we associate with vanilla ice cream and flavored beverages, while Tahitian vanilla is sweeter and fruitier with a high heliotropin content that makes it a good stomach calmative. Mexican vanilla is creamy and spicy, and it’s especially good in desserts made without heat or with a short cooking time.

We heard about Patricia from Daily Grommet friend Kathy Long, who’s a huge fan of her vanilla-infused sugars (these add a delicious flavor to coffee or tea, or when sprinkled on fresh fruits and pastries). “Patricia gave me a sugar sampler as a gift one year, and I was sold,” Kathy says. “I use the vanilla sugar in anything and everything, and I consider it the magic touch to my chicken curry.”

Patricia’s pure vanilla extracts and sugars are an affordable luxury that will make a difference not only in your baking and cooking, but also in the lives of the people who cultivate them.

— Ann
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The Vanilla Company - Rain's Choice Vanilla Extracts & Sugars
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Grommet Launch Conversation

  • Patricia
    Patricia

    I'm Patricia Rain known everywhere as The Vanilla Queen. My Queendom extends throughout the tropics as I represent the tropical farmers who grow vanilla and the other crops we all love, use daily and take for granted.

    We're a Queen-owned and royalty-operated business selling the very best vanilla products. Our Rain's Choice extracts and sugars will be your next best secret ingredient, whether you cook, bake, or simply jazz up coffee, tea and lemonade!

    We're a socially conscious business, so when you buy from us, you help us to support tropical farmers. Did you know that up to 80% of the crops grown in developing countries are produced by women? We believe these women deserve our support and help.

    For over 200 great recipes for using the world's favorite flavor and fragrance click here. Let me know what questions you have!

  • Nancy
    Nancy
    3/19/2010 12:15 PM

    I would love to try a vanilla that actually has flavor! How many ounces in a bottle? It looks like 8?

  • Patricia
    Patricia – Special Guest
    3/19/2010 12:19 PM

    Hi Nancy,

    Yes, they're featuring our eight ounce bottles. You might consider trying the Tahitian and then either the Madagascar Bourbon or Mexican as the Tahitian is very different in flavor. I think you'll be pleased with our products.

  • Wendy
    Wendy – Grommet Team
    3/19/2010 12:19 PM

    I didn't realize all the uses for vanilla until we learned more from Patricia, the Vanilla Queen. Thanks for opening my eye to the possibilities. Please share how you would use these vanilla extract/sugars in ways to add flavor to cooking.

    Here is Kathy Long's Chicken Curry recipe. Thanks for sharing:

    Indian Chicken Curry



    • Brown chicken pieces in 4 T butter

    • Remove and add 2 T butter.

    • Sauté 2 small chopped onions and 1 large clove of garlic or more, 2 tsp chopped ginger

    • Combine 2 T flour, 2 T curry powder, 3/4 tsp cardamon, 1 tsp salt

    • Add to onion mix, stir and add 2 medium chopped tomatoes, 1 cup chopped apple, 2 cup chicken broth, 1/2 tsp vanilla

    • Simmer 5 min.

    • Add chicken, cover and simmer 40 minutes.

    • Add vanilla sugar to taste (1 tsp plus or minus) to cut the bite of the other seasoning without overpowering it (I rarely ever use regular sugar anymore. I put vanilla sugar in my spaghetti sauce too.)

  • Patricia
    Patricia – Special Guest
    3/19/2010 12:25 PM

    Thanks for your comments, Wendy. Vanilla is truly the magic "secret ingredient."

    You can start the day with some of our cinnamon spice vanilla sugar in your hot cereal or on toast. A sprinkle is all you need. The vanilla sugar cuts the acid in coffee and gives it a flavor boost. The extracts are great in smoothies.

    Have pineapple that's too acid? Add a little vanilla sugar or a teaspoon of extract to cut the acidity. Same with sharp lemon.

    Put a few drops of extract in salad dressings. Add a little to fresh vegetables to bring up their natural sweetness. Put vanilla in marinades and in cream sauces for poultry. Add a little to reduction sauces like Buerre Blanc. You'll be amazed by the flavor boost vanilla provides!

  • Julia
    Julia
    3/19/2010 12:28 PM

    How exciting! Hooray for a business owned by a woman who is doing good for the women in the communities where she does business!

    I bake a lot, and I just finished a batch of the organic doggie chip cookies I make for my dogs. At the moment, I am using a nice vanilla I brought back from Mexico in copious quantities! I'm always concerned about Coumarin when purchasing vanilla sourced from Mexico. I wonder if Patricia might be able to address those concerns and speak a bit more about the source and purity of her vanilla?

    And, thanks, Kathy, for finding this one! I love Blue Bottle coffee in SF. Please spill the beans on where to find your husband's lattes next time I'm in town! I look forward to trying your recipe with some tofu instead of chicken. Yum!

  • Patricia
    Patricia – Special Guest
    3/19/2010 12:38 PM

    Hi Julia,

    Thanks for the vote of support! It was such a wonderful feeling to help out people in the vanilla growing region of Mexico after a hurricane hit them hard in 2007. The government said they would help to rebuild the school but ONLY if the people matched the funds. These are indigenous people who live very simply. They spent every last penny buying materials to put roofs back on their homes. We matched the funds with the government and a new room was added to the rural school along with a new roof. I know the kids, so it meant a lot to know they could continue in school.

    About your Mexican vanilla: It's imitation!! 99.5% of the vanilla coming out of Mexico is imitation. The beans are so valuable that they're exported here to make extracts. Nearly all Mexicans use imitation vanilla unless they have access to vanilla beans. Then they make their own extracts with the beans. Trust me on this -- I've been in the industry for 25 years. My mom used to bring me vanilla from Mexico and I also used it until I wrote my first book on vanilla in 1985 and learned the truth. Even famous chefs and food writers have been fooled.

    Our extracts are made to the FDA specifications and are 100% pure.

  • Julia
    Julia
    3/19/2010 1:10 PM

    Thanks for the quick response!

    What I bring back is the vanilla pods, and I scrape them to use the delicious insides. I buy from a particular company under the advice of Susana who runs Seasons of My Heart (a cooking school) in Oaxaca, so I hope I've never bought any "bad beans."

    I'm careful not to buy Mexican vanilla "extract" here, and you've just confirmed that I'm doing the right thing. Thank you for the additional details!

    I'm going to have to look up your books. I love to read even more than I love to cook, and I have a huge collection of food books. My most recent addiction is the writing in _Gastronomica_ magazine. You should see about writing a piece for them and telling the story of your vanillas and the communities who grow the beans and do the processing!

    P.S. Nice work on the rebuilding of the local school. I'm pretty passionate about poverty reduction and community development!

  • Patricia
    Patricia – Special Guest
    3/19/2010 1:39 PM

    Julia, you're a woman after my own heart! I know Susanna and I've known the Gaya family for decades. My history book mentions the Gaya family. There are no tainted vanilla beans, just the extract.

    I'm also a fan of Gastronomica though I haven't read it for quite a while. They want me to do an article for them and I really should do it. I've been a little overwhelmed with work and health issues so haven't been able to keep up as much as I'd like. I'm voting for a 28 hour day, with the four extra hours for personal luxuries such as reading and contemplation!

    Please spread the word about our company. We're not only woman-owned, we're women operated!

  • Julia
    Julia
    3/19/2010 1:58 PM

    Write the article for _Gastronomica_! I want to read it.

    I checked Amazon for your book, and it looks like it's not currently available. Are there other sources where one could purchase it?

    I've already told about 10 friends about your vanilla this afternoon. I think we're all going to have to have a cook-off and see whose vanilla-inspired creation wins. (Oh, and I'm a very sore loser when it comes to cooking competitions... Ha!) I have never used vanilla sugars much, so I think I'm going to have to try some of yours.

    Take good care of yourself, Patricia. I am learning to live with some health issues myself, and I know the process can stand in the way of accomplishing everything one is used to accomplishing each day!

  • Patricia
    Patricia – Special Guest
    3/19/2010 2:11 PM

    There's a link click-thru here on Daily Grommet for getting the book. You can also find it through us. I'll write about your cook-off and post the recipes if you do have a contest. I want to know all about it. If you're on Facebook, friend me!

  • Wendy
    Wendy – Grommet Team
    3/19/2010 2:20 PM

    Isn't it wonderful to connect on Daily Grommet? Julia -- keep in mind that through Daily Grommet, you can get a free copy of Patricia's book when you spend $50 or more on Rain’s vanilla products. This is a nice way to get the book for free while sampling her vanilla products.

  • Patricia
    Patricia – Special Guest
    3/19/2010 2:48 PM

    Thanks for mentioning this, Wendy. I'm happy to autograph books for anyone who purchases over $50 in products today. If you send me a note with your name, I'll personalize it!

  • Julia
    Julia
    3/19/2010 2:54 PM

    Thanks, Wendy! I must have missed the part about the free book with purchase. WooHoo! The link for the book goes to Amazon, but Amazon itself doesn't have any copies in stock. And I'll look you up on Facebook, Patricia.

  • Katherine
    Katherine – Grommet Team
    3/19/2010 3:10 PM

    Julia, thanks for letting us know that Amazon has sold out! If you won't be purchasing $50 worth of Vanilla products, you can get a copy of Patricia's book at her site by clicking the image below.

  • Kathy
    Kathy
    3/19/2010 4:09 PM

    I'm so pleased your featuring the Vanilla Queen and her Rain's Choice vanilla products. In my opinion, they are a cut above the rest, certainly made a difference in my desserts, but I use the vanilla and the vanilla sugar in just about everything. The vanilla sugar and cinnamon sugars are staple in my house now,and all my friends look forward to Christmas because I bring them bags of sugar as gifts. Best of all, when you buy from the Vanilla.COMpany, you're supporting the growers and sustainability.

  • Kevin
    Kevin
    3/19/2010 4:44 PM

    I use Patricia's vanilla and chocolate sugars in my lattes. They are so good that when we have friends over for dinner, the latte is the dessert. Like they say, great food begins with great ingredients.

  • kamara
    kamara
    3/19/2010 5:33 PM

    The Daily Grommet is a beautiful thing & now it's even better since you have Patricea Rain on! ! We love her vanilla & don't bother cooking without it. The sugars w/chocolate & cinnamon kick guests coffees up a notch ; ) When I need special gifts for my gourmet friends I shop vanilla.com. Thankyou so much, Patricia & Grommet

  • Julia
    Julia
    3/19/2010 5:38 PM

    I just got my order in, Katherine! I would love to have my book signed by Patricia if possible.

    And I found The Vanilla Company on Facebook, Patricia. Yay!

    Have a great weekend, everyone...

  • Patricia
    Patricia – Special Guest
    3/19/2010 6:08 PM

    Did you friend me, Julia?

  • Sue
    Sue
    3/19/2010 6:52 PM

    Patricia - I have been using vanilla 'paste' from a certain mall-based cooking store chain. It's quite expensive, but I've found the flavor to be much better than regular vanilla extracts / essence. Do you know if this 'paste' is real? I would be interested in knowing how your product compares to it.

  • Amina
    Amina
    3/19/2010 7:41 PM

    No other vanilla I have used tastes as wonderful as the Queen's. Add a few drops while making fresh whipped cream or add her vanilla sugar, and you will understand and be able to enjoy the difference!

  • Patricia
    Patricia – Special Guest
    3/19/2010 8:25 PM

    Most of the vanilla products you buy in the US are real because there are FDA regulations overseeing manufacturers in the US. The exception is those products that are marked "Imitation," (found in the stores along with the real vanilla) also overseen by the FDA. Quality varies considerably, but if they're labeled "Vanilla Extract" and sold in regular stores, they're real. Where you are likely to find products with misleading labels are from buying on the Internet, such as "Real Vanilla From Mexico." The other is in Mexican food stores. The FDA has too much to do to worry about these products.

    There are several companies making vanilla pastes. The paste is probably real Most pastes have corn syrup or sugar syrup as the suspension to hold the product together. They also contain a vanilla extract concentrate and ground vanilla bean powder. Sometimes the powder is from the leftover ground beans after extraction, and sometimes it's made with freshly ground beans.

    The product I carry I considered to be the best in the industry. It is made with a triple strength vanilla extract and freshly ground vanilla beans. There is no sugar or corn syrup in our product. It is held together with xantham gum, a natural binder used in gluten-free products. I really recommend our paste and I'm about to use some right now in some molten chocolate cakes I'm going to make. ;-)

  • Sue
    Sue
    3/19/2010 9:13 PM

    Thank you for your answer! Since I use vanilla (paste) to make cakes primarily, with the traditional vanilla taste, which of your products (extracts) do you think would best suit my present use?

  • Jules
    Jules – Grommet Team
    3/19/2010 10:05 PM

    I am so enjoying this conversation. Foodies and their "dealers" are such pleasant company. Patricia really is a regal presence.

  • Julia
    Julia
    3/19/2010 10:29 PM

    Jules, "dealer" is precisely the word... Being a foodie is like being a junkie. :-)

    And, Patricia, I became a fan of The Vanilla Company on Facebook, but there are numerous Patricia Rains. So I'm not sure how to find you directly. You'll see me and my comments on your fan page! You can add me from there.

    Now when does my new vanilla and vanilla sugar arrive?

    :-)

  • Vanilla Queen
    Vanilla Queen
    3/19/2010 11:01 PM

    Greetings Beautiful Women,

    I'm going to answer you both simultaneously. I feel that relationship is the key here -- we're women talking about food the way we would if were sitting at a table together. Food is so much more than keeping our bodies alive; it's tied integrally into our programming as nurturers, mothers, friends, our pleasure receptors -- the whole thing. What has concerned me about a lot of the Food Network-type banter is that we lose track of the emotional connection and food becomes "precious," sometimes even "food porn." I feel that way when I think of the over-the-top, newest/latest fads in trendy restaurants or high-end specialty food products. I think it is particularly troubling for me when I think of the farmers who grew, harvested and processed the coffee beans, the chocolate, the vanilla, the tea, all the tropical commodities that we take for granted. I mean, how many people sit down with a cup of coffee each morning and wonder if the grower's child has shoes so she can go to school, a malaria net or even clean water? That's what really matters to me.

    Okay, enough of my ramblings. Jules, try our Madagascar vanilla paste as that's going to be the closest to what you are accustomed to. I don't make the paste. I'm a reseller of what I think is the best in the market.

    Julia, I will find you on Facebook. After we receive the orders from The Daily Grommet we will package and ship them for you. I don't know where you are, but we will probably ship USPS priority mail unless my assistant knows something I don't know. ;).

  • Sue
    Sue
    3/20/2010 7:15 AM

    Patricia! Thanks for the advice. I have just placed my order! Ended up ordering a whole set ... AND ... a set for my sister in England (I'll hand carry it to her as an 'Easter' gift in a couple of weeks. She loves to cook too! Thank you so much. Great personal service here at Daily Grommet!

  • Patricia
    Patricia – Special Guest
    3/20/2010 3:47 PM

    Thank you Sue. What I nice gift for your sister. It's difficult in England to get quality vanilla extracts. I know she'll really enjoy your gift.

  • Katherine
    Katherine – Grommet Team
    3/22/2010 8:27 PM

    Here's another recipe that uses these wonderful Vanilla products. This one is thanks to our talented cook, Jen. Wendy says it was even easy enough for her to make!

    English toffee bread pudding



    Serves 8

    PUDDING

    • Spray Butter (for the dish)

    • 2 cups heavy cream

    • 4 extra-large eggs

    • 1 extra-large egg yolk

    • 3/4 cup light brown sugar

    • 1 tsp Vanilla extract

    • 2 tablespoons cognac

    • 1 1/3 cups chopped Heath bars (five 1.4 ounce bars)

    • 4-5 large croissants (about 15 ounces), cut into cubes


    1. Set the oven at 325 degrees. Lightly butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish; have on hand a roasting pan larger than the baking dish. Bring a tea kettle of water to a boil.

    2. In a bowl, beat the cream, eggs, yolk, light brown sugar, vanilla, and cognac. Stir in the chopped Heath bars; set aside.

    3. Fill the baking dish with the croissants. Pour the custard mixture evenly over the croissants. Press the croissants down slightly, so they are covered with custard.

    4. Place the baking dish in the roasting pan. Add enough boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the dish. Carefully transfer to the oven. Bake the pudding for 50 to 60 minutes or until the top is firm and the custard is set.

    5. Heat up caramel sauce to drizzle on before serving.

  • A. Marina Fournier
    A. Marina Fournier
    10/19/2011 5:22 PM

    I love, love, love Her Majesty the Vanilla Queen Patricia! I think I've been buying her vanilla products for over 20 years, since I first moved to Santa Cruz. Her vanilla was a bit more expensive, but the quality so exceeded the price difference that there was no going back to ordinary vanillas. I tend to buy her vanilla in quarts--and when I have given her vanilla to friends, I refill their empty bottles, continuing the gift.

    Anything she writes will be interesting, and it'll take you places you may never have known existed. She advocates for the needs of the farmers she works with, and helps to better their lives.

    If you ever meet her, I hope she is wearing her magnificent vanilla bean crown.

  • Katherine
    Katherine – Grommet Team
    10/19/2011 5:31 PM

    @A. Marina Fournier: We think Patricia is fabulous, too. We're glad to hear from someone who has known her and her products for so long that the shine doesn't wear off over time.

  • Ginger
    Ginger
    11/19/2011 10:57 AM

    I have more of a question then a comment. I'm looking for a vanilla sugar or flavoring for my Frappuccinos. What i was wondering is which one would work the best in these, the sugars or the extracts?

  • Katherine
    Katherine – Grommet Team
    11/19/2011 2:17 PM

    @Ginger Vermaes: I just reached out to Patricia and she says: "For Lattes and any hot beverages, the vanilla sugars are the best. For cold beverages, probably a super-fine sugar and extract as the larger-crystal organic sugar that we use won't melt as quickly."

  • Lisa
    Lisa
    10/22/2012 4:26 PM

    I was given some vanilla years ago from a lady that visited Mexico. This vanilla was clear in color and was the best I've ever used, it made everything sooo good. I have been searching for this vanilla for years and still cannot find it. The lady that gave it to me has passed away so I cannot go to her.

    Please please help me either find this or something just like it. I only know that it came from Mexico and was in a large plastic container.

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