It would help if you could verify your source... I don't believe it is true. Logic would say that the purest vanilla extract is NOT clear. Why? Because vanilla beans are dark brown as are the seeds. Have you used fresh vanilla beans/seeds in your recipes?
I think it's an oxymoron to say that clear vanilla extract is pure. Have you ever noticed that brown vanilla ice cream has more of a vanilla flavor than white vanilla ice cream especially when homemade? Usually this is because they used fresh vanilla seeds instead of any type of extract at all.
Why don't you try making your own homemade vanilla extract? I can't imagine anything being more pure than making your own.
The following recipe for homemade vanilla extract is from our fellow forum member logose, posted November 22, 2000 06:35 AM under [The Inside Scoop » Making Food Gifts For Christmas]
This has been bugging me for days. I wanted to find out how it’s done but since I am not a chemist, I can not explain how it is possible to remove colour from a liquid but I am sure it can be done. Just think about eau de vie, most are colourless even if they are made from fruits. Just think of Kirsch, it’s made from cherry yet somehow it’s colourless. If you can have colourless cherry alcohol I am sure you can have colourless pure vanilla extract. Furthermore I doubt it would be legal to put on a label pure vanilla extract if it wasn’t true.
I'd assume the "extract" itself would be so minute as to just flavor the main ingredient that it wouldn't be enough to color it.
FYI (I found this interesting):
Here are two recipes for "kirsch/homemade brandy":
From Kitchen Cordials by Nancy Crosby and Sue Kenny:
3 cups cherries
3 cups 80-proof brandy
1/2 cup sugar
Pierce cherries with a fork and put in glass jar along with 2 cups brandy. Be sure fruit is covered. Leave for 1 month. Strain and filter. Add additional cup of brandy and 1/2 cup sugar. Stir well to dissolve. Leave until clear.
2 pounds Royal Anne or other yellow-red variety of cherries
2 pounds sugar
2 1/2 cups brandy
1 1/2 cups vodka
Wash and stem fruit, then cut each sherry open with a knife, exposing the pit. Put cherries in a large, clean jar and cover with sugar, stirring well to cover all the fruit. Let sit for 3-4 hours. This allows sugar to pull juices from the fruit. Stir in
the vodka and brandy until most of the sugar is dissolved. Seal and store in a cool, dark place for 2-3 months, stirring or shaking occasionallt (once or twice a month) to enhance flavor extaction.
Strain and filter as needed. Set aside fruit pulp you filtered out and use on waffles, ice cream or whatever suits your fancy.
As a variation, substitute Bing or other dark cherry for the golden ones above. Remove the pits from about half the cherries. Wrap the pits in a cloth and crack them open with a hammer. Add broken cherries to the mix. (If you want to preserve the pulp as above, put cherries in a cheese-cloth bag before adding to mixture.)
Or substitute vodka for brandy to make a "Cherry Schnapps" - a more pure cherry taste.
I'm sure that in a factory setting the color could be removed from vanilla through activated carbon filtration or some other chemical means, but probably some flavor is lost in the process. The price would be higher, too.
WDB, I have to strongly disagree with you on the vanilla issue. Not only can you tell the difference between imitation and real, but different brands have a very discinct flavor and aroma. I pretty much exclusively use Penzey's double strength. I challeng anyone to a taste test!