Vanilla extract has been used by chefs and bakers alike for hundreds of years. Whether you’re more prone to the imitation vanilla or the real deal, this well-loved extract is a powerful “flavor potentiator”, meaning it enhances our ability to taste other foods, including chocolate, coffee, fruit, and nuts. It also boosts our perception of sweetness.
But vanilla extract has several other uses, both for personal use and use around your home. As in baking, a little goes a long way, so better to use less than too much (remember, you can always add more if needed).
Here are a few cool and clever ways to use vanilla extract!
For most of these, imitation vanilla will work just fine…so save the good stuff for baking and use up the imitation vanilla extract on these ideas.
- Add a fresh scent to your fridge by soaking a cotton ball or a piece of sponge with vanilla extract and leaving it in the refrigerator. You can also wipe down the fridge with vanilla, but I think that might be a little overpowering, not to mention a waste of good extract!
- You can also use vanilla to get that nasty smell out of your microwave. Pour a little vanilla extract into a bowl and microwave on high for one minute to help get rid of the smell.
- Trying to sell your home? Dab a little vanilla extract on a light bulb, turn on the light, and your house will be filled with the smell of baked goods!
- Spending some time outdoors? Ward off pesky mosquitoes by applying a mixture of 1 tablespoon vanilla extract and 1 cup of water on your skin.
- Vanilla extract is great to have on hand for those horrible kitchen burns. The evaporation of the alcohol in the extract will help cool the burn, giving you quick relief.
- Rub some vanilla extract on your wrists for an instant perfume!
- Add vanilla to a basket of pine cones for an instant potpourri display. The scent of vanilla can help calm your nerves and keep you relaxed.
- Most bakers use vanilla extract on a pretty constant basis, but you can use it in several other recipes as well. Try it on ice cream, fruit, cereal, oatmeal, and even seafood.
Knowledge is power! Learn fun facts, hints and tips, and creative ways to use every day items with “The Buzz” posts on Thursday.