Many of my guests love to cook, and appreciate products from the local farms and shops here in the Berkshires. And if they like to bake, one of my favorite places to send them is to the village of West Stockbridge, Massachusetts, just 15 minutes from my Hillsdale, New York bed and breakfast, to Charles Baldwin and Sons for their wonderful pure vanilla extract.
As the sign over the door states, the business was established in 1888 although the family had been making extracts for several generations before that. The current proprietor, Earl Baldwin Moffat is the great grandson of the founder of the business. The business was moved to this former carriage shop on the banks of the Williams River in 1912. I love the little bottle of vanilla sign hanging at the far left corner of the building.
The building has great charm on the inside too, furnished with antique desks and counters, and an ancient cash register which is still used…no computers here! But you will love the extracts, made from the original recipes. The vanilla is still aged in oak barrels and the family thinks that is part of what gives their extract such a wonderful flavor…that an the Madagascar vanilla beans they import. See the various extracts lined up in the glass case above in the brown bottles?
Martha Stewart visited the store in 1999 and the business was featured in “Martha Stewart Living Magazine” and on her television show. This MSL video gives a wonderful overview of the extract business run by Earl and his wife Jackie. I apologize in advance for the advertisement you will encounter on that link, but the video is really fascinating.
I always try to keep Baldwin’s vanilla extract on hand at the inn, and also like some of their other extracts like the lemon which I use in my lemon ricotta hot cakes. The vanilla is great in my scones…be sure to try them on your next visit!