6 minute read
25 May 2020
5:08 pm

10 different ways to use pure vanilla extract


When you think of vanilla, no doubt you conjure up thoughts of creamy buttercream frosting, freshly baked cookies, wobbly panna cotta, velvety ice-cream and pillow-soft sponge cakes.

You may even drool over the thought of a tangy vanilla vinaigrette, plump ravioli with an elegant champagne vanilla sauce or scorched coconut vanilla prawns.

When it comes to baking and cooking, splashes of pure vanilla extract make an ordinary dish heavenly. Nothing new there. Bakers and chefs have used vanilla for decades to pack a powerful flavour punch.

What might surprise you are all the different ways you can use vanilla that we’re going to tell you about.

Remember, only pure vanilla extract offers you the healing health benefits of vanilla. Imitation vanilla extract made in a factory using a synthetic ingredient adds flavour and aroma but little else.

1.   Deodorise and freshen up your home

Bad odour in your refrigerator. Burnt smell in your microwave. Hands reek of fish or onions. Toxic pong of new paint. Bring out pure vanilla extract to get rid of these unpleasant smells and leave your home smelling delicious.

Soak a cotton ball or sponge in pure vanilla extract and either leave it in the appliance or wipe down surfaces with it. Put a drop or two of extract on a lightbulb and leave the lights on to fill up the room with the sweet fragrance of vanilla. Add a tablespoon of vanilla extract to the can of paint when you open it. Soak your hands in a bowl of water with vanilla extract to not only remove a smell but also soothe dry and chapped skin.

2. Cocktails

Pure vanilla extract pairs beautifully with rum, gin, vodka, whisky and vermouth … actually just about any tipple of your choice. Add a splash to your punch, martini, mojito, bellini or whatever cocktail you fancy for a dreamy, luscious flavour. To warm the cockles, add pure vanilla extract to Glühwein for a spicy, fragrant hot drink.

Vanilla extract is a great way to subtly add a floral, woody or spicy flavour to cocktails, but don’t be too heavy-handed when you add it. One drop too many can overpower the delicate balance of a cocktail.

3. Health drinks

We’re familiar with adding vanilla to smoothies to boost the flavour, but the real benefit lies in the incredible health properties of vanilla. Only pure vanilla extract counts though and not the imitations.

Vanilla contains antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-depressant properties and has been used for centuries to boost one’s health. Add half a teaspoon of pure vanilla extract to an immunity-boosting smoothie for an added power punch. Vanilla extract is also a great way to sweeten a health smoothie for kids as it masks the bitter taste of the green stuff you try to get them to drink.

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4. Repel bugs

This has got to surprise you! Use pure vanilla extract to repel biting critters like gnats, mosquitoes, blackflies and ticks. Everybody loves the delicious smell of vanilla except bugs.

Vanilla extract is effective as a natural insect repellent. Simply add 1 tablespoon of pure vanilla extract to 1 cup of water. Give it a stir and wipe any exposed skin with the vanilla solution. Just to be sure no one’s allergic to the vanilla solution, put a drop of extract on everyone’s skin and check it doesn’t cause any irritation.

5. Relieve painful burns

Picked up a pot that’s boiling hot and burnt your hands? Bumped against a hot exhaust pipe and seared the skin off your legs? Stayed out in the sun too long and looking like a lobster? It’s time to apply pure vanilla extract.

Soak a ball of cotton in the extract and apply it to the burnt area for quick pain relief. As the alcohol in the vanilla extract evaporates from the heat of the skin, it naturally cools the burn.

6. Paleo and keto-friendly substitute for sugar

Vanilla extract is a great substitute for sugar, which makes it paleo and keto-friendly. It contains no calories and the amount of alcohol in it is not only insignificant, it burns off during the cooking process.

Something like a hot vanilla cinnamon latte is a delicious paleo drink to aid weight loss. Popular keto-friendly milkshakes use pure vanilla extract as a substitute for sugar. If you need an energy boost on a detox diet, brew yourself a delicious cup of vanilla-infused hot tea.

7. Treat problem skin

Yip, you heard us right. Pure vanilla extract is the perfect natural solution for problem skin. Vanilla is a good source of B-vitamins such as Vitamin B6, thiamin, niacin and pantothenic acid. These vitamins play an important role in maintaining the health of your skin.

The antioxidant properties of vanilla also protect your skin from damage that’s caused by harsh environmental pollutants and toxins. Prepare a healing scrub to revive dull skin and help heal blemishes and scarring. Add the seeds on one pod to 3 tablespoons of brown sugar and add 2 drops of vanilla extract to freshly squeezed lemon juice. Mix well and apply to your face or trouble skin spots. Clean off with cold water.

8. Treatment for bouncy, healthy hair

Vanilla contains essential oils that help promote hair growth. When added to a shampoo or a hair balm, it leaves your hair feeling silky, shiny and smooth. Vanilla not only adds an exotic aroma to natural soap bars and hair conditions, it also contains anti-oxidant properties that help remove toxins in skin and hair follicles that build up in our day-to-day life.

Melt about 8 tablespoons of shea butter in a pot. Once melted, add a few drops of pure vanilla extract and other essential oils such as almond, jojoba or castor oil. When cooled, blend the mixture to a soft, creamy consistency. Apply to your hair by rubbing it in gently in a circular motion. Leave on for between 10 to 15 minutes and then wash off with mild shampoo.

9. Treat depression and anxiety

Vanilla has been used for centuries as a ‘nerve tonic’ and a natural remedy to treat depression and anxiety disorders. It contains anti-inflammatory and anti-depressant properties that act as a natural aromatherapy that helps to reduce inflammation and boost mental fatigue.

Studies also show that the aromatic smell of vanilla directly impacts the brain and has the ability to invigorate the brain and induce a sense of calm.

It’s suspected that inflammation that is a result of a stressed brain causes the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines. The anti-inflammatory properties of vanilla help reduce these cytokines and relieve symptoms of hysteria, anxiety and depression.

Pure vanilla extract is a particularly good alternative to store-bought remedies for children. Add a few drops of pure vanilla extract to a glass of warm milk or sugarless tea before bedtime to soothe a child and help them have a more restful sleep.

10. Treat nausea during pregnancy

A few drops of pure vanilla extract in a glass of water or lemon tea is all you need when you’re pregnant to relieve horrible nausea. Vanilla has essential health properties that help to relieve digestive disorders that cause nausea, vomiting and upset stomachs.

Try vanilla-infused herbal tea or boiled water with a few drops of pure vanilla extract when you’re feeling bilious. The rich aroma of vanilla and healing properties will help calm you down and naturally reduce the never-ending queasiness you feel in the first few months of a pregnancy.

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Brought you by Native Vanilla