Food & dining

Nashoba Valley Extract Co. offers more than plain vanilla

Meagan MacNeill of Stow became an avid baker when she was home with three small children. She also began making her own vanilla extract and found that it gave more intense flavor and complexity to her baked goods, buttercreams, and custards than the commercial brands she had been using. So MacNeill, 38, launched Nashoba Valley Extract Co. four years ago. She hand-crafts in small batches a line of fragrant and richly flavored extracts she makes with vodka, ages for at least six weeks, and sells in amber glass bottles. “I’ve never run into anyone else selling extracts,” says MacNeill. She produces three types of vanilla extract — bourbon, made from Madagascar vanilla beans; Tahitian, lighter and fruitier than the bourbon; and her own proprietary blend combining Madagascar and Tahitian vanilla beans aged in oak barrels for months, which creates a deep, woody flavor ($7 to $9 for 2 ounces; $11 to $15 for 4 ounces). MacNeill also offers anise, cacao, espresso, peppermint, and lemon extracts ($6 for 2 ounces). Available at Formaggio Kitchen South End, 268 Shawmut Ave., Boston, 617-350-6996,; Volante Farms, 292 Forest St., Needham, 781-444-2351,; Debra’s Natural Gourmet, 98 Commonwealth Ave., West Concord, 978-371-7573,; on Feb. 13 and March 12 at the winter farmers’ market at Russell’s Garden Center, 397 Boston Post Road, Wayland, 508-358-2283,; or go to


Ann Trieger Kurland can be reached at