What could be better than adorning ourselves with the exquisite scent of orchids?
Did you know that Vanilla Beans come from gorgeous orchid flowers? Growing Vanilla is truly labor intensive. Every orchid must be hand pollinated by farm workers who carefully transfer the pollen from the anther to the stigma of the flower. The Vanilla flower has a very short life span, and only blooms for less than a day. This means that the growers have to inspect their plantations daily for open flowers to pollinate.
6-9 months after pollination, the long green pods begin to turn yellow at their tips, which means that they are ready to be harvested. The Beans are picked and then cured for 3-6 months on drying racks in the sun and in special conditioning rooms. During this time, they develop the dark color, rich aroma, and delicious flavor that we all know and love. Aside from culinary use, we can also harness the intoxicating aroma of Vanilla for body care recipes. What could be better than adorning ourselves with the exquisite scent of orchids?
Vanilla Steeped Witch Hazel Extract
I love using this infusion as a facial toner in the morning, the sweet scent is a perfect way to start the day! Plus, the natural astringent helps cleanse oil from the skin, decreases bags under eyes and skin puffiness, and reduces pore size.
Slice Vanilla Beans lengthwise and cut into small pieces. Place in a glass jar, cover with Witch Hazel Extract, cap, and shake well. Store in a cool, dark place for 2 weeks and shake daily. When the blend has reached the desired strength, strain the Vanilla Beans out using cheesecloth and pour the liquid into a glass bottle with a mister top.
Vanilla Infused Body Oil
A delectable Vanilla infused oil which can be used for massages or as a moisturizing body oil. You can even make a more concentrated version of this oil to use as a natural perfume!
Slice Vanilla Beans lengthwise and cut into small pieces. Place in a glass jar, cover with oil, cap, and shake well. Store in a sunny and warm windowsill for 1-2 months and shake daily. When the oil has reached the desired strength, strain the Vanilla Beans out using cheesecloth and pour the infused oil into a bottle.
Vanilla Aroma Spray
A delightful aromatherapy spray which can be used around the house or misted directly onto the skin or hair. It also makes a wonderful facial toner!
- 1 oz organic Witch Hazel Extract
- 3 oz water
- 2 tsp organic Vanilla extract (Make your own! See recipe below.)
Pour all ingredients into a 4 oz glass bottle with a mister top and shake well. Shake before each use as contents will naturally separate and be careful not to spray over light colored furniture or clothing.
Vanilla & Honey Body Scrub
This scrub smells scrumptious and will exfoliate your skin, leaving it soft and smooth.
- ¾ cup organic granulated sugar or fine sea salt
- ¼ cup plus 1 TBSP organic Apricot Kernel Oil (or other carrier oil of your choice)
- 1 TBSP Honey
- 1 tsp organic Vanilla extract (Make your own! See recipe below.)
- ¼ tsp powdered organic Vanilla Beans (optional)
Combine sugar and powdered Vanilla Beans in a bowl. Add oil, honey, and Vanilla extract. Mix well. Package in jars, and enjoy!
Homemade Vanilla Extract
Making your own Vanilla Extract is extremely easy, and is much less expensive than purchasing it.
- 3-4 whole organic Vanilla Beans
- 1 cup brandy, vodka, or bourbon
Split Vanilla Beans lengthwise with a knife, leaving the seeds inside intact. Place Vanilla Beans in a jar, cover with alcohol, and cap tightly. Agitate the mixture by shaking the jar daily for 4-6 weeks. You can infuse the Vanilla Beans for as long as you would like, and add new Vanilla Beans to make a stronger extract.
Once that the flavor of the extract has reached the desired strength, strain the Vanilla Beans out and bottle the resulting extract. To make the bottles even more alluring, you can insert a Vanilla Bean into each bottle. Vanilla extract will last indefinitely, and will become even more aromatic and flavorful as it ages. Homemade Vanilla Extract may be used in exactly the same manner as commercial Vanilla Extract.
Other ideas for using Vanilla Beans:
Vanilla Salt: Infuse Vanilla Beans in sea salt to create naturally scented bath salts or for culinary use.
Vanilla Sugar: Place a Vanilla Bean in a jar filled with sugar, it tastes delicious in coffee or sprinkled over Crème Brulee.
Vanilla Liquor: Add Vanilla Beans to liquors. They are especially wonderful in whiskey, bourbon, or vodka.
Vanilla Honey: Gently heat honey with a Vanilla Bean in it to create Vanilla infused honey. Simple and delectable for dipping fresh fruit or drizzling over desserts.
I hope that you enjoy these Vanilla-inspired recipes!