No home is complete without a kitchen. And no kitchen is complete without a well-stocked kitchen cabinet. A kitchen cabinet holds the secret to the dishes that one brings to life in their kitchen. From pantry staples, homemade masalas, powders for recipes passed down for generations, and quick-fix meal options, a pantry has it all. What about vanilla? Read on to discover how this coveted ingredient is more than just a baking staple and is a must-have in your kitchen cabinet.
What is Vanilla?
Fine Vanilla is a work of nature perfected through traditional processes. Post the labour-intensive harvest, the best scores of Vanilla Beans are carefully sorted and then cured by meticulous processing methods. The beans are blanched, sweated, and sun-dried over weeks until they turn moist, dark brown and wrinkled. They are then conditioned for months to bring out the rich aroma and flavour in the pods, which are then crafted into extracts and powders. Pure Vanilla can be used in pods, extract and powder. Though each form has differing intensities and usage, pick what works best and stock up.
Vanilla in Culinary Creations
The most widely used, accepted, and recognised application of vanilla is in the culinary realm. Vanilla is a universally accepted baking staple, and the quintessential waft of oven-baked goodies comes from none other than vanilla. This sublime spice adds a subtle sweetness and a depth of deliciousness to just about any dish. It even masks the smell of eggs and replaces that unwanted ‘egginess’ with a sweet aroma.
If pods are being used, simply slice one open with a sharp knife and scrape the seeds into your batter of choice for a delicious flavour and sweetness. Vanilla pods also render magical specks or brown flakes that add to the aesthetic allure of this spice. Vanilla extract can be used similarly and is usually added to wet ingredients such as melted butter or eggs while incorporated into a dish. Vanilla powder is also a great way to add the ingredient to a dish without compromising structural integrity, in delicate dishes such as macarons and meringue.
Vanilla pods can also be simmered in milk-based dishes, crème anglaise and puddings for a delicate infusion of flavour. Another way to use the pods is to add it to a jar of sugar to infuse aroma and decadence into it.
Another surprising use of vanilla is in savoury dishes such as marinades and sauces. The subtle sweetness helps to amplify bold, savoury notes and adds a nuanced balance to savoury dishes. Vanilla is a great ingredient that can be consumed without cooking and blends well into smoothies and milkshakes.
Vanilla for the Home
Vanilla is a versatile staple used in many nifty ways around the house. A great way to deodorize and remove unwanted odours around appliances such as ovens and microwaves is by heating a few teaspoons of vanilla extract. This adds a warm fragrance and bids smelly odours goodbye. You can whip up an easy-peasy air freshener by soaking a cotton bowl in vanilla extract and placing it in a bowl in your place of choice. This works well on shelves, cupboards and musty spaces that need freshening. A blend of water and vanilla extract in a spray bottle is a quick way to invite aroma into your living spaces.
Have you heard of a simmer pot? It’s a recent but revered way to brew a sweet-smelling home in no time. Simply simmer water in a pot and add your favourite aromas such as vanilla extract, citrus peels, cinnamon or other warm spices, for a waft like no other.
Vanilla for a Touch of Beauty
This powerhouse of an ingredient could be your skin’s new BFF when used the right way. Here are a few fantastic ways to incorporate vanilla into your skincare routine:
- Vanilla has antibacterial properties that work against acne and inflammation when applied topically.
- The antioxidants in vanilla make it a great anti-ageing ingredient that helps smoothen wrinkles and reduce age spots while blended into emollients and moisturizers.
- Vanilla is known to soothe burns and can alleviate the effects of a burn.
- Vanilla mixed with almond oil and shea butter makes for a nourishing hair conditioner and will leave you with sweet-smelling, silky hair. You can try this method using Goodness Vanilla Pods.
- Vanilla is a widely used ingredient in aromatherapy for its calming properties. Dab a few drops on your pulse points for a sense of calm that relieves stress, anxiety and even nausea.
To sum it up, vanilla is a wonderful, versatile ingredient that is a must-have in your pantry. Ensure that you choose an all-natural, pure variant of vanilla, such as the Goodness Vanilla Range, rather than mass-produced imitation vanilla to reap the benefits of this spectacular spice.