Key difference: Almond extract is an extract of almond. Vanilla extract is an extract of the vanilla bean.
Almond extract and vanilla extract are both flavoring ingredients. Extracts are mainly used in a number of recipes to give them the flavoring of the original ingredient. The main difference between almond extract and vanilla extract is the ingredient they are made from. Almond extract comes from almonds, whereas, vanilla extract comes from the vanilla bean.
An extract is made by combining oil from the ingredient with an alcohol. This creates a stable, longer-lasting flavoring agent. Alcohol is used in as a binding agent for preserving the flavor’s strength. Ethyl alcohol and vodka are commonly used to make extracts, while, alcohols such as gin, brandy and rum may also be used.
Almond extracts are made by combining almond oil with ethyl alcohol. The pure almond extract is made with oil from bitter almonds, while natural almond extract is made from cassia bark essence. Imitation almond extracts are made from synthetic chemicals that mimic the flavor of the almond. Imitation extracts usually do not contain the bitter alcoholic taste.
The pure almond extract is the most commonly used almond extract. Whole bitter almonds are technically inedible; however, their oil tends to have a strong, sweet flavor. Almond extract, which is most commonly used in baked goods and desserts, tastes nothing like traditional almonds. The bitter almond oil and ethyl alcohol tend to give it a distinctive taste. The almond extract does, however, give a strong almond flavor to the finished dishes.
Vanilla extracts, on the other hand, are made by soaking the vanilla beans in an alcohol and water solution, mainly with vodka, as its flavor complements the vanilla. The alcohol then absorbs the flavoring from the vanilla beans over the course of several months. Sugar may also be added to the solution, which results in a dark clear liquid. After several months, the clear dark liquid has a rich aromatic flavor and gives a mild vanilla flavor to the finished dishes.
This type of extract is called the one-fold vanilla extract, which is most commonly available in stores. There are also double and triple strength (up to 20-fold) vanilla extracts available, which are much stronger in flavor. Imitation vanilla extract are also available in the market. The imitation vanilla extracts are a wood by-product, which is usually made by soaking alcohol into wood that contains vanillin. The vanillin is then chemically treated to mimic the taste of natural vanilla. Today, vanilla extracts are the most common form of vanilla used, and the most popular type of extract used.
As compared to the vanilla extract, the almond extract is highly concentrated and more potent. Vanilla extracts also tend to be more expensive than almond extracts. As both are commonly used in a number of sweet and savory recipes, they are more often than not interchangeable. However, as the almond extract is more concentrated, less amount of it may be used in place of vanilla extract. It is generally accepted that one should add half the amount of almond extract as much as vanilla extract, but it may vary as per the recipe.