Emulsion Vs. Extract

Decorating By blittle6 Updated 21 Aug 2013 , 3:34pm by nadsquad

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blittle6 Posted 12 Sep 2005 , 8:38pm
post #1 of 15


What is the difference between and emulsion and an extract? Can you interchange them in a recipe? The bakery supply company I have been buying from does not have lemon or strawberry extract but they carry an emulsion.


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SquirrellyCakes Posted 13 Sep 2005 , 4:18am
post #2 of 15

Well, an extract is the real thing, extracted from that which the flavour name describes and subject to a certain level of that actual thing being used in the process, for example a vanilla bean being set in alcohol to make vanilla.
An emulsion can use some particles of the real thing or it can be a mixture artificially manufactured by a flavorist, kind of a chemical combination used to make a certain flavour. It can be oil based or water based or have components of both which will give it certain characteristics when you mix it into things. Here is some rather scientific descriptions of how this is done.
So the bottom line is, you are usually better off with the real thing, a real extract although many things are only available in an artificial form.
An easy to understand comparison would be Tang compared to Orange Juice.
Emulsification. Flavoring emulsions consist of flavor materials, such as essential oils or oleoresins added to water, emulsified with gums or other stabilizers to form an oil-in-water emulsion. This allows insoluble flavors to be incorporated into an aqueous food. Cloud emulsions contain an oil phase formulated to provide turbidity to flavored beverages, so that it resembles its natural counterpart, i.e. orange juice.

Droplet size of the emulsions affects the end product. Microemulsions produce a clear appearance, but the amount of emulsifier required to maintain the emulsion may cause off-flavors. Not only are emulsions prone to settling out or drifting to the top of a beverage (ringing), but they also require preservatives to prevent spoilage.

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JennT Posted 13 Sep 2005 , 4:28am
post #3 of 15

SquirrellyCakes - you never cease to amaze me with the wealth of knowledge you have!!! icon_eek.gif I'm sure many of us here on CC wouldn't know what to do without you! Thanks for having so many of the answers to so many of our questions, and with the data to back it up!! lol icon_razz.gifthumbs_up.gif

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SquirrellyCakes Posted 13 Sep 2005 , 4:45am
post #4 of 15

Heehee, well to tell you the truth, I haven't know that stuff for many years. My youngest took a commercial baking course a few years ago and that was when I learned a bit about emulsions and such. I actually had to look up the data to back up my wordy response, haha! But I learned a lot when she took this course about the differences between the products that domestic bakers use and those products available to commercial bakers. I think now, a lot of things that used to be strictly for the commercial baker are becoming available to the general public. But the chemistry involved in baking is something I never gave much thought to, until she took the course. Haha, now if chemistry had been related to baking back in my highschool days, I wouldn't have dropped the subject so quickly, haha!
What is really fascinating when you study flavourings and such, is just how much depends on scent and smell and also duplicating taste similarities. It is really quite a specialized science!
One thing I cannot understand though, is why they cannot get rid of the undercurrent of a coconut scent in the artificial clear vanillas. I don't like coconut, haha, so I won't use it because of it.
Hugs Squirrelly

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Sangria Posted 13 Sep 2005 , 12:46pm
post #5 of 15
Originally Posted by JennT

SquirrellyCakes - you never cease to amaze me with the wealth of knowledge you have!!! icon_eek.gif

I thought the same thing, thanks Squirrelly : )

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SquirrellyCakes Posted 13 Sep 2005 , 4:33pm
post #6 of 15

Sangria, heehee, it is because I am 50. You read and hear a lot of stuff by the time you reach that age, and some of it even sticks in this old brain, haha! Everyday is an education!
Hugs Squirrelly

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blittle6 Posted 13 Sep 2005 , 5:19pm
post #7 of 15

Wow, Squirrelly, you are such a scholar! I'm impressed. What do you think the effect of using an emulsion on a cake would be? For example how do you thinka strawberry cake made with strawberry emulsion would turn out. I hate to buy a gallon of the stuff and have to throw it out!

Thanks for all of your help!

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SquirrellyCakes Posted 13 Sep 2005 , 5:28pm
post #8 of 15

Haha, you know, I think you realy have to buy it to see. I don't think there is any worry about it ruining the cake, more an issue if the flavouring stays mixed up well. And then, if you like the taste. Some flavourings are really good, others have a chemical taste. And that doesn't matter if it is an artificial flavouring or an artificial extract or an emulsion.
If it was me, I would try out the strawberry emulsion, mainly because I think you will be hardpressed to find a real strawberry extract. Lemon is common, but strawberry isn't. I think that some flavours can be well duplicated and I would take a chance on the strawberry one if it isn't too expensive.
Hugs Squirrelly Cakes

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blittle6 Posted 13 Sep 2005 , 5:33pm
post #9 of 15

They sell strawberry extract at the grocery store here, but it costs $3.50 for the 1 oz. bottle...ouch!! The gallon of emulsion is only $12!! I guess it is worth a shot....do you think I would use it measure for measure...1 TBSP extract = 1 TBSP emulsion?

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SquirrellyCakes Posted 13 Sep 2005 , 6:54pm
post #10 of 15

No, emulsions are highly concentrated. They were really designed for commercial bakery use. Therefore they are meant to be used for really large batches. For example, if you are using, say Parasol Brand lemon emulsion, you would use 3-5 ounces per 100 pounds of batter weight. Strawberry, you would use 3-4 ounces per 100 pounds of batter.
Sorry, I was assuming if you had access to this kind of product, that you were operating as a commercial bakery as usually these bakery supply stores only deal with licensed bakers or registered businesses and they deal in wholesale, at least that is the case here.
Basically this is the thing with emulsions. If for example, you were making a wedding cake where the main flavour was vanilla but there was a slight hint of an almond flavouring, in other words it was a secondary or complimentary background taste, then you would use an emulsion. But if you want the closest taste to the real fruit or nut or whatever, you would use a real extract. You could still use the emulsion as the main flavouring but it wouldn't have quite as good a taste.
Probably the best example I could give is that it would be somewhat like the difference between real chocolate chips and chocolate flavoured baking chips. Or the difference between eating Strawberry Jello and a real ripe strawberry.
There are also artificial extracts available, again, not quite the same taste as the real thing.
Honestly, I think you are better off with the strawberry extract unless you are operating like a commercial bakery. If you think in terms of only using a teaspoon or even less with some extracts, per cake recipe, this little bottle will go a long way.
And if you purchase the strawberry extract, start out trying 1/4 teaspoon at a time and tasting the batter. Many extracts, like lemon and almond do not require a full teaspoon to flavour, some are very potent.
Basically the rule of thumb when using an emulsion versus an extract is, if you want the truest taste use the extract. However if the flavour you want is just a secondary or complimentary flavour, you can use an emulsion and once blended with the main flavour, it will still bring out that slight taste. It is usually a matter of keeping costs down when emulsion is used instead of extracts.
Hugs Squirrelly Cakes

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blittle6 Posted 13 Sep 2005 , 9:49pm
post #11 of 15

Hi Squirrelly,

I am set up as a licensed business, and have all the required permits to buy wholesale here. I am looking for a space to set up a kitchen and am working on an ecommerce site....I have the domain name etc but no products on it so far.

Anyway, I make a strawberry cake with strawberry buttercream, and it is a big seller. I go through those little bottles fairly quickly. That's my main reason for looking for an alternative, but I don't want to give up the taste. I just got set up at CKProducts, I need to see what they have to offer there.

Thanks for schooling me on this!


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SquirrellyCakes Posted 13 Sep 2005 , 10:05pm
post #12 of 15

Heehee, ok, Berta, now that I know what you are going for... so are you going to be using an industrial type of mixer, a floor type mixer or are you going to be using a regular stand type? Are you making cake mix type cakes or really large volume and weighing your measurements on a scale rather than measuring them with cups and such?
You should be then able to purchase real extracts at wholesale prices. So in that case, shop around the bakery supply shops and see what kinds of prices you can come up with. I think if it was me, I would still stick with the real thing unless you were going to be a huge commercial bakery and were more interested in quantity than quality. But you don't want to compromise that great taste of your most popular product, so see what kind of price you can come up with on the real extract.
Hugs Squirrelly Cakes

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blittle6 Posted 13 Sep 2005 , 10:11pm
post #13 of 15


I will be using stand mixers for now. No cake mixes only from scratch and sometimes doubling or tripling recipes depending on time constraints. The problem was that the supply shop I use only carries the strawberry and lemon emulsion no extracts. I need to shop around more.


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frankandcathy Posted 22 Jun 2006 , 6:23pm
post #14 of 15

I know this is a late reply to this topic but I just wanted to say that I used the almond emulsion today for the first time and didn't find it to be much different than extract. Of course, I wasn't doing any delicate flavors. I simply added 3 tsps. to two cake mix batters and it all worked fine. I am about to try it in icing. I think it's okay and doesn't taste any more chemical to me than the normal extract. Just my opinion. Thanks for all the great info, etc.! icon_wink.gif

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nadsquad Posted 21 Aug 2013 , 3:34pm
post #15 of 15

I  used to buy Frontier brand almond flavor (alcohol free) from Whole Foods for the WASC cake, BUT they stopped selling it, and I really need an almond flavor that is alcohol free, so I found at a local cake supply store "almond emulsion" ... can't remember the brand, but I think it was CK ... my question is: can I use this in place of almond flavor and how much to put? 


How does "emulsion" compare to "flavor"?


Thanks in advance!!!

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