Almost all of us know the basic use of vanilla extract as a compulsory ingredient in baked desserts. Being one of the most popular spices available in the market in addition to being one of the most expensive ones around, vanilla extract is considered as an omnipresent commodity in almost all households today.
However, instead of limiting its use to just cakes, ice creams and other sweets and desserts etc., you can use vanilla extract for a number of other purposes around the house. And this article focuses on some of those more common alternate purposes. But before we start discussing about that, let’s have a small overview of the spice and its daily uses.
A few need to know facts about Vanilla
Originating from Mexico (comes from Madagascar now though), vanilla is essentially a flavoring ingredient that is extracted from orchid pods. The flavor and smell of the spice is attributed to a component called vanillin present in it.
Advantages Of The Spice
The good thing about vanilla extract is that it doesn’t go bad or expire with time. The alcohol content in the extract actually acts as a preserving agent and helps in retaining the taste and smell of the spice even after a year. And while pure vanilla extracts never expire, artificial or imitation vanilla extracts would weaken a bit (in terms of taste and smell).
Common Uses Of Vanilla
Although the most common form of vanilla that we use today is the extract, vanilla beans were commonly used before the advent of the extract. These beans were used to treat a number of ailments which included stomach upsets, high fevers (used as aphrodisiacs); and low adrenaline levels.
Today, vanilla finds its use in the kitchen as an active flavoring ingredient in baked food items. In addition to this, vanilla essential oils are also used in aromatherapy.
The Uncommon Uses of Vanilla Extract you probably have not heard about:
When I chanced upon this particular piece of information on the internet, my curiosity got the better of me and I started digging around to find out the maximum number of household uses vanilla extract has apart from being in the kitchen all day long.
And Here Are Some of The Most Popular Uses:
Chase away that musty odour: A house that smells good always feels pleasant and welcoming! And if your house happens to smell of vanilla, then it would be a double delight for sure. Follow these tips to achieve just that.
Most vaccums come with filters. And so when you vaccum the house, make it a point to apply a small amount of vanilla extract to the filter. This would enable the essence (from the extract) to spread around the entire house, making it fresh and sweet (to smell of course!).
There’s no need to worry if your vaccum does not have a filter though. You can apply a few drops of vanilla extract to the insides of the vaccum bag to achieve the same effect.
Here’s another way to lighten up your house and make it smell sweet at the same time. All you need to do is pour a couple of drops of vanilla extract on a lightbulb before switching it on. This way, when you switch on the bulb, the room will be flooded with light and the sweet smell of fresh baking.
Have a potpourri (an assortment of dried spices and natural fragrant plant material) in your house? If yes, then you can use vanilla extract to freshen it up. Just add a few drops of vanilla extract to the potpourri to make it smell sweet and refreshing! As an alternate to vanilla extract, you can also use vanilla oils for the same purpose.
If you hate the smell of fresh paints: I for one love the smell of fresh paints! If however, you don’t agree with me and are averse to the smell of paints, all you need to do is add a tablespoon of vanilla extract to the paint.
The extract would effectively minimise the smell of the fresh paint and your house would end up smelling like a freshly baked cake instead (more appealing than the former I would say!).
As a deodorizing agent in micorwaves and fridges: In addition to the counters and pantries, two other areas in the kitchen that tend to get really messy and smelly are the refrigerator and the microwave.
Spills, and combined food odours can make your refrigerator smell like a dump with time. And sometimes, the smell seems to persist even after proper scrubbing and wiping. In these cases, you can use vanilla extract to minimise the foul odour.
Accordingly, use a soft cloth to wipe the interiors of the refrigerator after dabbing the cloth with some vanilla extract. It also pays to dab a small cotton ball or sponge in vanilla extract and then place the same inside the refrigerator. This would prolong the scent and make your fridge look (and smell) cool and inviting.
The foul residual odour that tends to emanate from microwaves can be easily erased by placing a bowl of vanilla extract into the microwave and then heating it up (on ‘high’) for about a minute or two. You can also use vanilla extract (high alcohol content) to remove sticky residues that don’t come off otherwise.
Bug Repellants are not needed anymore: Say goodbye to those woeful days of covering up your entire body with bug repellant creams (some of them stink like anything I tell you) to ward off mosquitoes and other dreadful insects.
Use vanilla extract instead. Surprised? Well, don’t be. For in stark contrast to humans who absolutely love the smell of vanilla, almost all bugs and insects hate the odour. All you need to do is mix a solution of 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract with 200 ml of water.
Dip a soft cloth into the mixture and wipe the same on the exposed portions of your body. This way, you would end up smelling good in addition to successfully chasing away pesky mosquitoes, flies, ticks and other nasty bugs.
Fix Small Burns Instantly
The alcohol content in vanilla extract is very useful in giving instant relief to minor burns that you may sustain in the kitchen. If you accidentally get a burn, pour some vanilla extract on the affected area immediately. The alcohol present in the extract would evaporate, giving off an immediate cooling effect.
Smell Good Yourself
And finally, the last but most definitely not the least popular use of vanilla extract would be to subsitute it for perfume. You can apply a dab of vanilla extract to your wrists to smell good.
However, make it a point to not overdo it. Too much vanilla extract would make you look smell like a cake in front of others. If so, you would not be able to stop anyone from biting you!