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Where Does Vanilla Flavoring Come From

Beaver butts release a goo called castoreum that the animals use to identify their area. It is believed that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration declares castoreum to be an “generally considered to be a safe” ingredient, and manufacturers have used it in a variety of food products and perfumes for more than 80 years, as per the study published in 2007 published in The International Journal of Toxicology.

“I am lifting the animal’s tail,” stated Joanne Crawford, a wildlife ecologist at Southern Illinois University, “and I’m saying, ‘Get down and place your nose close to the bum. ‘”

“People believe I’m crazy,” she added. “I say, “Oh, it’s beavers. It smells amazing. ‘”

Castoreum can be described as a chemical substance primarily derived from beaver’s sacs for casting situated within the pelvis and the bottom of the tail. Due to its connection to anal glands, castoreum can be a mixture of secretions from the castor gland, anal glands’ secretions, and urine.

The sweet slime that is brown has the texture of molasses but not quite the same thickness, Crawford said.

The majority of anal secretions smell due to bacteria that produce odor in the gut. Crawford added that this chemical compound is the result of the beaver’s unique diet of bark and leaves.

Where did vanilla flavor originate from?

There have been searches for vanilla alternatives in some of the most bizarre locations over the years, with the most bizarre of them all being the rear of beavers. It is believed that beavers identify their territory with the sweet smell of castoreum created by the glands in the anal of the animal. This yellow-brown syrupy liquid seems similar to vanilla’s taste and smell. It was used as an ingredient in food and an aroma in the 1900s and beyond. Sounds delicious. This has led to an outraged collective this past week when TikTok videos of people searching the origins of vanilla extract are squealing with disgust as they find out about castoreum.

However, if you’d prefer the ice cream cones free in the anal fluids that aquatic mammals produce, it is good to know that castoreum is no longer a food additive; however, it can be utilized in cosmetics and perfumes. The extraction process involves anesthetizing the animal to milk their anal glands making the process of hand-pollinating vanilla orchids look pretty a bargain; however, when new techniques for creating synthetic vanilla became accessible, the practice almost was wiped out. Today, beavers and their butts have been mostly left alone with we are left wondering why anyone thought to go there in the first place.

Vanilla Beans

Vanillin originates from pods that grow on orchids that are lianas. Vanillin extraction is a lengthy and complex process that involves many steps:

The farmers gather the pods which have reached a particular maturation stage and then cook them in a hot oven.

Over 10-14 weeks, fruit is cooked in various ways, including steaming and boiling. In the daytime, they lay under the sun’s heat. They are wrapped in the woolen fabric at night and put in a vacuum box.

The harvest takes place over a two to three month period. Following the first three stages, the plants ripen the pods until the scent is overwhelming and intense.


Castoreum, also known as beaver stream, is a waxy liquid released by beavers through castor glands located at the bottom of the animal’s tail.

Castoreum has a pleasant aroma due to its unique diet and hence is used for flavoring vanillin. Castoreum wasn’t a principal element in the vanillin flavoring. It was used to boost certain pleasant scents.

The Beavers scent is a unique deep scent found within gouache, flesh smoke shades, and leather. Its chemical makeup Castoreum comprises more than 60 components comprising phenols (gouache) and cresols, volatile bases, ammoniacal and benzoic carboxylic acids. The scent is often used in the perfume business.

Is modern-day vanilla made by releasing beaver analsecretions?

Internet fact-checking site Snopes claimed that castoreum is a widely added food ingredient with a rating of “mostly incorrect.”

The website says: “The use of castoreum in the food industry today is extremely rare, largely because the process of obtaining the substance difficult (and thus costly).”

The website states that the annual total national use of castoreum extract of castoreum and castoreum liquid together is 292 pounds, “which is an annual average less than one-millionth of a pound for each individual within the US.”

Around 20,000,000 pounds of vanilla are extracted from genuine vanilla beans each year.

“Depending on a scarce substance as castoreum to flavor the ice cream and sweets available in store shelves could cause a nationwide shortage of these products and push their prices to levels that are beyond the reach of anyone, not even the most wealthy of consumers,” Snopes says.

How is a vanilla extract prepared?

They are dried, blanched, covered in blankets of wool, and placed in airtight, dark storage containers for them to “sweat.” The “sweat” procedure is a kind of fermentation that keeps the beans moist and warm. Every day, the blankets are rolled out and laid out in the sun for two months, then removed from the wrap and allowed to air dry for another three or four months. The second month’s “conditioning” includes wrapping beans on wax paper before offering them for sale in a sealed box. All of this is according to the book The Spruce Eats.

It’s a lengthy and complex process that continues after the beans have been ground and then immersed in a solution of water and alcohol in which the flavor compounds are dissolved. Sometimes, heat is utilized during the extraction process; however, many people consider it an unneeded and damaging process that destroys a lot of the flavoring ingredients usually present in vanilla pure.

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