|There are three main commercial preparations of natural vanilla :
* whole bean
* powder (pure ground beans or blended with sugar,
starch or other ingredients),
* extract (in alcoholic solution)
Vanilla flavor in creams, cakes and other foodstuff may be achieved by adding some vanilla extract or by cooking vanilla beans in the liquid preparation. A stronger aroma may be attained if the beans are split in two; in this case, the innards of the beans (the seeds), consisting of flavorful tiny black grains, are mixed into the preparation. Natural vanilla gives a brownish to yellowish colour to preparations, depending on concentration. Good quality vanilla has a strong aromatic flavour, but foodstuffs with small amounts of low quality vanilla or artificial vanilla-like flavorings are far more common, since true vanilla is much more expensive. One major use of vanilla is in flavoring ice cream : the most common flavour of ice cream is vanilla, and thus most people consider it to be the "default" flavor. By analogy, the term "vanilla" is used as a synonym for "plain". In old medicinal literature, vanilla is described as an aphrodisiac and a remedy for fevers, but these purported uses have never been scientifically proven. Methyl vanillin is used by the food industry as well as ethyl vanillin. The ethyl is more expensive but has a stronger note. Cook's Illustrated ran several taste tests pitting vanilla against vanillin in baked goods and other applications, and to the consternation of the magazine editors, all tasters preferred the flavor of vanillin to vanilla.