It seems that I flung a craving on several folks to make some homemade vanilla extract in late April. If you missed that post, you’ll want to go back and learn how easy it is! We ordered 30 Mexican vanilla beans from Boston Vanilla Bean Company and started some new batches last month. Have you remembered to shake your bottles regularly? Yes, we’ve been shaking ours, and it is almost fully steeped! Yum!
I did some calculations, based on the number of beans that we bought and the vodka we purchased. Making two batches and using the same beans for a second batch, I estimate that our homemade vanilla extract costs about 56 cents per ounce. At the grocery store, I noticed that commercial extracts are selling between $4 and $3.50 per ounce. So a homemade version will provide you considerable cost savings!
While you patiently wait for your vanilla to be ready, I thought I would give you some ideas on how to use vanilla beyond its traditional addition in your baked goods.
- Aromatherapy – Instead of grabbing the can of air freshener, get out your vanilla bottle. Add a couple of drops on top of a cold light bulb, then turn on the light. The warm bulb will soon release the scent throughout the room. Medical facilities such as Sloan-Kettering use vanilla aroma to calm patients undergoing MRI and CAT scans.
- Freshen Up the Microwave – Do you have a lingering odor in your microwave from the last time that you cooked something really smelly? Pour a little vanilla in a bowl and microwave it on high for one minute. The offending odor will be gone.
- Freshen Up the Refrigerator – The next time you clean the fridge, wipe it down with some vanilla. If you want a lingering vanilla scent, soak a cotton ball with vanilla and leave it in the fridge.
- Calm the Stomach – To settle a nervous stomach, add vanilla to mineral water or apple juice. To soothe cranky, teething, or sick children, add a few drops of vanilla to their milk or juice.
- Cool the Burn – If you burn your tongue on pizza or other hot food, put a few drops of vanilla on your tongue to ease the pain and soothe the burn. If you get a minor skin burn in the kitchen, dab some vanilla on the burn to immediately cool it.
- Take the Stink Out of Paint – If you hate the smell of paint, you can neutralize the smell by adding 1 teaspoon of vanilla to a gallon of paint.
- Perfume in a Jiffy – Are you out of your favorite perfume? Put a dab of vanilla on each wrist. The scent is relaxing and you’ll smell delicious! To create a body mist, combine 6 tablespoons of extract, 2 cups of distilled water, and 1-1/3 tablespoons of isopropyl rubbing alcohol. Place mixture in a spray bottle. This spray can also be used as an air freshener and makes a great homemade gift.
- Shoo the Bugs – How about a natural alternative to the application of oily pesticides on your skin? Dilute 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract with 1 cup of water, and wipe the mixture on your exposed skin. This will discourage mosquitoes, blackflies, and ticks.
- Additional Kitchen Duty – Add a few drops to pineapple, fruit salads, or sauces containing citrus to soften the sharpness and give it some extra sweetening. A dash of vanilla in tomato sauces and chilies also neutralizes the acidity.