The Origin of Vanilla Flavour | Beaver Castoreum Explained

Vanilla is a top ingredient in any bakery flavours. Everybody loves it! However, the internet has been going bonkers since the origin of vanilla flavour was revealed. Many individuals have quit eating vanilla essence in their cakes, ice creams and pastries with vanilla flavouring.

According to a viral video, the vanilla flavouring used in cakes, pastries and ice creams comes from the beaver’s ‘butthole”! Yes, shocking. In proper terms, it is called castoreum. But what is it really? Is it really as stomach crunching as it sounds? Follow the blog to know what is Beaver Castoreum and how it is used to produce vanilla flavouring.

What is Beaver Castoreum?

Castoreum is a chemical substance produced by a male or a female beaver’s sac, located near the base of its tail. Due to the presence of castoreum in their anal glands, beavers have a great smell. Castoreum is a brown and thick, sticky substance that they use to mark their territory, burying it on top of dirt mounds built outside their domain. Even though beavers can’t see or hear well, they have a keen sense of smell.

Apparently, the iconic vanilla essence comes from their eating habits (barks and leaves). The castoreum collected from beavers is mainly from Alaska, Canada and Siberia.

According to a study, food flavour manufacturers have used this method for 80 years to flavour food and perfumes.

How Was It Used to Produce Vanilla Flavouring?

According to experts, to milk out the castoreum from the beaver’s anal glands, first, it must be anesthetised. Initially, the colour of the castoreum fluid varies from yellow and milky to grey and sticky depending on the type of species and its gender. If the beaver is alive, this fluid is milked and dried to a solid for producing the vanilla essence. If the beaver is dead, the entire castoreum gland is extracted from the dead beaver and customarily smoked over a wood fire to preserve it.

According to history, beaver castoreum was used as medicine for abortion, fever, headaches and other diseases. In the 19th century, the perfume industry started using castoreum as a fixative or preservative, which helps other smell last longer.

By the end of the 19th century and in the early 20s, American food flavour manufacturers started using this chemical substance for flavouring food. By the end of the 19th century, the demand for beavers went so high that the North American beavers were on the brink of extinction.

Is It Still Used in Modern Times?

You must be scrunching up your eyebrows and asking if what you get today in bakery flavours are from the beaver’s butthole or not. Well, the answer is no. According to studies, castoreum is now rarely used to generate vanilla flavourings, except for the mass-produced flavouring industry. Even though this process is natural, beavers have been stopped hunting for castoreum or furs even. Therefore, due to the inconvenience in finding and harvesting this chemical substance, castoreum is rarely used by profitable food flavour manufacturers. Apart from the food industry, the beaver castoreum may be used in some perfume and cosmetic industries.

According to recent reports, the total yearly national use of castoreum, castoreum extract and castoreum liquid is just around 132 kgs. Now, most manufacturers extract vanilla flavouring from natural vanilla beans. Each year, approximately 9 million kgs of vanilla are collected naturally from the vanilla seeds.

Why is Vanilla Flavouring So Famous in the Baking Industry?

As mentioned at the beginning of the blog, vanilla is an iconic flavour when it comes to cakes, cookies, pastries and ice creams. But why? Vanilla has a strong smell that enhances the sweetness of baked goods, cakes and pastries. It’s almost like the salt and spice in savoury items that enhance the flavour. That’s why every bakery has vanilla as the top ingredient on the list. Even many chocolate flavour producers add vanilla flavouring to the chocolate mix to enhance the sweetness and the aroma.

To Wrap Up

As food and flavouring manufacturers provide less to no information on what ingredients actually go into making these flavours, we hope this blog helped you know at least, your vanilla cake is not made from the beaver’s castoreum. So, now that you know what you’re eating isn’t from a beaver’s butthole, you can finally relax and celebrate your victory with a vanilla cheesecake. Now is the ideal moment to leave behind the rumours and relax while enjoying some vanilla-flavoured baked goodies during your winter vacation.

vanilla is an iconic flavour when it comes to cakes, cookies, pastries and ice creams. But why? Vanilla has a strong smell that enhances the sweetness of baked goods, cakes and pastries. It’s almost like the salt and spice in savoury items that enhance the flavour.

bakery flavours,vanilla essence,food flavour manufacturers,food flavour manufacturers,Origin of Vanilla Flavour