Difference between Almond Essence and Almond Extract

Key difference: Almond Essence and almond extract are both flavoring ingredients. 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. An essence, on the other hand, can have two distinct meanings. It can either be an imitation extract or it can be a highly concentrated form of pure extract.

Almond Essence and almond extract are both flavoring ingredients. Both are mainly used in a number or recipes to give them the flavoring and/or aroma of the original ingredient.

Dictionary.com defines an extract as a substance separated or obtained “from a mixture by pressure, distillation, treatment with solvents, or the like.” While, as essence is “a substance obtained from a plant, drug, or the like, by distillation, infusion, etc., and containing its characteristic properties in concentrated form.”

While referring to food ingredients, an extract is made by combining oil from the ingredient with an alcohol. This creates a stable, longer-lasting flavoring agent. Alcohol is used 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.

An essence, on the other hand, can have two distinct meanings. It can either be an imitation extract or it can be a highly concentrated form of pure extract; the label on the bottle should specify which. Concentrated essences are essentially very strong extracts that can be twice to even four times as strong as normal extracts.

Imitation essences are chemically created substances that aim to replicate the flavor and/or taste of the original ingredient. These imitation essences usually do not have the delicacy of the natural flavor; however they provide a close enough alternative that is more convenient then actual ingredients or extracts, especially when the ingredients or extracts are not easily available or are too expensive.

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.

Still, many people find that imitation almond essence tends to have an artificially produced taste that does not match with the original taste of the almond or with pure almond extract. These people recommend using almond, almond paste or pure almond extract, even though these tend to be quite expensive.

Moreover, at times imitation essences tend to be weaker than natural extracts. Hence, many people recommend doubling the amount to imitation almond essence used as opposed to almond extract. Still, both are considered to be quite well apt to give the almond flavoring, so they should be used sparingly or as required by the recipe. Using too much of the almond extract or almond essence may give the food a slightly bitter taste.

Image Courtesy: news.wustl.edu, belgrafix.com

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