Uses of Vanilla in Food

Vanilla can be used to flavor many different types of foods. Vanilla is a light, creamy flavor, that can be added to many baked foods.

5 Recipes that use vanilla extract

Vanilla extract can be added to anything from smoothies to cakes. Here are a few recipes to try out with your vanilla extract.

Vanilla extract uses in cooking

You can add vanilla extract to food batters such as:

  • waffle batter
  • crepe batter
  • pancake batter

You don’t need a lot of vanilla extract, a little goes a long way. Use about 1 tsp at a time until you’re happy with the flavoring.

One recipe to try cooking is raspberry vanilla cream crepes. Vanilla is infused into a cream sauce which fills the crepes with a hint of vanilla. The crepes are then topped with raspberries for a punch of flavor.

List of 10 vanilla bean desserts

There are a ton of recipes to use vanilla beans with. Vanilla beans can be used for their vanilla beans inside of their pod, or the pod itself can be used to infuse flavor. When making foods like ice cream, custard, or syrups, the vanilla bean pod is used. Otherwise, only the vanilla beans are used for foods like scones, frosting, and cupcakes.

How to use vanilla extract in coffee

Vanilla extract can be used in coffee by infusing vanilla extract into a simple syrup.

Using a 1:1 ratio of sugar to water (1 cup each works well), cook the sugar syrup over medium heat in a saucepan until it thickens in about 8-10 minutes.

Remove the syrup from the heat and it cool down for awhile.

Add the vanilla extract and mix well.

Alternatively, you can use a sliced vanilla bean and cook the vanilla bean into the syrup.

Then add the extract after it has cooled down.

The vanilla bean will release vanilla beans into the coffee syrup.

The vanilla coffee syrup will be smooth, decadent, and a lovely addition to your morning coffee. Use anywhere from 1 tsp – 1 tbsp of syrup.

The syrup will not last very long. The syrup will stay good for about 14 days.

How is Vanilla Made

How are Vanilla Beans Made

Vanilla beans are made from vanilla plants that grow up to 30 meters long. Vanilla plants are climbing plants, and usually climb up wooden trellises.

Vanilla bean plants have specific growing conditions that include having high humidity, warm temperatures, and indirect sunlight.

Vanilla plants flower periodically, and are only available for 24 hours to be pollinated. Farmers are actively watching their vanilla plants for any signs of flowering due to this short window of pollination.

Vanilla must be hand pollinated due to the unavailability of natural pollinators in these humid and warm environments. The pollinators needed for vanilla are only available in Mexico.

Once vanilla is pollinated, it can mature on the vine for up to 2 months. After the coloring of the vanilla bean pod is dark, it’s time to harvest the vanilla.

Vanilla goes through a processing of curing for the following 3 months. It involves drying out the pods and creating a high moisture environment. Gourmet vanilla beans have 30-35% moisture within them.

Best Vanilla Beans

How is vanilla extract made

Vanilla extract is made by first cutting open the vanilla bean pods. The vanilla beans are placed into a jar and then it is filled with vodka.

The vodka is then infused with vanilla flavoring. It takes about 6-12 months to get a good flavoring of vanilla extract.

Every week the jar is shaken to release more flavor from the vanilla pod into the vodka creating vanilla extract.

How to use vanilla beans

How is imitation vanilla made

Imitation vanilla is made from a byproduct of a papermaking manufacturer. Wood contains “lignin” which is used to create vanillin synthetically. Lignin is chemically treated into making vanillin. Vanillin is the flavoring used in imitation vanilla.

Where does vanilla come from

Vanilla comes from mainly Madagascar (40%) and Indonesia (30%). The remaining 30% is produced by Mexico, Reunion Island, and Comoro Islands.

How do you use a vanilla bean instead of extract

To use a vanilla bean instead of vanilla extract, you’ll want to cut open the vanilla pod and scrape the seeds. The seeds can be placed directly into your recipe. If you’re wanting to infuse more vanilla into your wet ingredients or are making foods like custard or ice cream, you can place the whole vanilla pod into the recipe. Once the flavor has seeped out of the vanilla pod, you can remove the vanilla pod and continue on with your recipe.

Where does artificial vanilla flavoring come from

How long is a vanilla bean

A vanilla bean is usually 10-15 cm in length. Gourmet vanilla beans are usually 6-8 inches long.

How many vanilla beans in a pod

There are thousands of vanilla beans in a single vanilla bean pod.

How to Cut & Use Vanilla Beans

Vanilla beans are a gourmet food that can be added to desserts to make pastry cream, scones, vanilla extract, etc. Select a vanilla bean to use that has a dark and oily surface. Get out a large sharp knife for cutting open the vanilla bean.

  1. Place the vanilla bean on a cutting board.
  2. Pin the vanilla pin down with one hand where you want to begin cutting.
  3. Sometimes it’s easier to cut the vanilla bean in the center and then cut the rest of the vanilla bean. Place the tip of the knife close to your finger that’s holding the vanilla bean down. Cut the bean below your finger that’s holding it. Try not to go all of the way through. Make a small incision and continue cutting down the vanilla bean.
  4. The vanilla bean will be resistant to being cut. It kind of has a bit of a wood texture on the outside. Cut the vanilla bean lengthwise until the whole vanilla bean is open.
  5. Scrape the sides of the vanilla bean to get the beans out of the pod. You can place the beans on your cutting board or directly into your mixture. Some of the vanilla beans will adhere together.
  6. Once you’re finished scraping out the vanilla bean, you can also use the vanilla pod for flavoring as well.
How to use vanilla beans

How do you use whole vanilla beans

If you’re making pastry cream or vanilla ice cream you can put the whole vanilla bean into the warm cream in the saucepan and it will ooze out vanilla flavor. It’s easier to get the rest of the vanilla beans out this way as well. Dip the vanilla bean into the cream and then use your finger lengthwise down the pod to push the vanilla beans into the cream.

How do you use a vanilla bean instead of extract

A vanilla bean can be used in place of extract by removing the vanilla bean seeds out of the vanilla pod. Place the seeds into your wet mixture, with your eggs and milk. Mix the vanilla beans into the wet ingredients until the beans have come apart from one another. Sometimes it’s difficult to get them to pull away from one another. Use a whisk if you have to, to separate the vanilla beans into individual seeds.

Do vanilla beans need to be cooked

Vanilla beans do not need to be cooked in order to use them. You can scrape the seeds of the vanilla pod and place them directly into an icing mixture. You can place the vanilla beans into cold milk to infuse the vanilla flavor and use the vanilla bean that way. There is no need to cook the vanilla bean pod before using.

How long do vanilla beans last

Vanilla beans last up to 2 years. Keep the vanilla beans in a warm, dry place.

Do vanilla beans go bad

You can tell when the vanilla beans go bad, as they will grow mold on them from being too humid.

Learn how vanilla is made.

12 Lavender Spice Recipes

Lavender is one of the most interesting spices you can use in your at home recipes. Harvest your lavender and dry it out so you can use it for a ton of new recipes!

What does lavender ice cream taste like?

Lavender ice cream has floral notes, and tastes neutral, not as sweet as say, vanilla ice cream. It’s a lighter flavor that pairs well with flavors such as earl grey, vanilla or honey.

lavender earl grey vanilla ice cream

3 Vegan lavender recipes

When to harvest French lavender

Harvest French lavender during June and July by cutting the stems right below the flowers. Harvesting French lavender will give you cuttings in about 2-3” long pieces of lavender.

How to deadhead French lavender

Deadhead French lavender 2-3 times throughout the summer months to promote growth of your French lavender plant. Cut the stems right below the flowers after they have bloomed and start to die off. The plant will get more dense by deadheading it. Don’t be afraid of cutting off some of the newly budding lavender. Where you cut the stems of the dead French lavender, this will give you 2-4 more lavender bud nodes. By deadheading your French lavender plant the flower head will fill out more evenly. Cut 2” below foliage level for the best results. You can use shears or pruning cutters to deadhead your French lavender plant.

4 ideas for what to do with dead lavender flowers

You can cut off a few of your dead lavender flowers below the bud to give you a 2-3″ piece of lavender. After you cut the stems, you can use your dead lavender flowers as:

  • potpourri in a bathroom
  • in your clothes drawer to freshen them up
  • a content in making your own deodorant
  • a content in making your own soap

What to do with lavender after it blooms

Harvest and dry your lavender after it blooms. Be sure to store your freshly harvested lavender in an airtight container in a dark room to keep the most flavor possible. You can use your preserved lavender after it blooms all year round for different baking recipes.

lavender spice recipes

24 Recipes on How to Use Basil in Cooking

How can Basil be used in cooking?

Basil can be used at the end of the cooking process. It will wilt and the flavor deteriorates as it gets heated; therefore, adding it at the end will give your dish the most flavor possible.

How to Cook Basil Leaves?

It depends what you’re making. If you’re including it in a pasta dish, you can cut it into strips, then add them in at the end. When you’re making pesto and Vietnamese wraps, use the whole leaf.

how to use basil in pasta dishes

Can you eat a basil leaf raw?

Yes. Basil can be consumed raw on appetizers like crostinis and bruschetta.

24 ways to use up Basil:

  • Pesto
  • Margherita pizza
  • Pizza sauce
  • Garlic and cherry tomato pasta
  • Vietnamese wraps
  • Flatbread
  • Bruschetta
  • Crostini appetizers
  • Tomato pasta sauce
  • Lemon basil pasta salad
  • Thai basil chicken stir fry
  • Basil infused oil for dipping bread
  • Garlic basil shrimp
  • Roasted tomato basil soup
  • Strawberry basil lemonade
  • Lemon basil vinaigrette
  • Honey lemon basil chicken
  • Thai basil fried rice
  • Tomato basil salad
  • Garlic basil aioli
  • Tuscan chicken
  • Caprese salad
  • Lemon basil sugar cookies
  • Thai basil ice cream

Does basil need to be washed?

Yes. Just like all produce you bring home from the grocery store, you should wash it thoroughly and dry before using.

freshly baked margherita flatbread

What is Basil best used for?

Basil is best used for making pesto, pizza sauce, and margherita pizza.

What does Basil go with?

Basil goes best with tomatoes, olive oil, mozzarella cheese. Frequently it’s used in Italian cooking which will give you a good clue as to what it goes well with.

pesto in food processor

How to Grow, Preserve, Dry, Store, and Use Parsley

Types of Parsley

  • Curly leaf Parsley: garnish
  • Flat leaf/Italian Parsley: strong flavor
  • Root Parsley: vegetable addition to soup, stew or eaten as is.
how to grow parsley outdoors

How to Grow Parsley from Cuttings?

  1. Cut a stem of Parsley approximately 3 inches tall that has leaves attached to it.
  2. Put it in water in a window sill that gets a lot of sun.
  3. Once the roots have grown after a couple of weeks, place into well drained soil and continue growing.

How to Grow Parsley Outdoors?

  • If you have a new plant from a nursery you have a couple of options- if it’s still cold outside at night, start growing inside on a sunny windowsill. Place outside after the last frost.
  • Parsley likes it’s soil damp, be sure to continue watering throughout the summer
  • Plant seeds 6-8 inches apart so they aren’t too crowded.
  • Plant seeds outside covering them only by 1 cm of soil. Give them a bit of room to grow, not too much is needed. 
what is parsley good for in cooking

Parsley Growing Conditions

  • Wet soil
  • A bit of sunlight
  • Try to not clutter the plant – thin it out so it will continue to grow

How do you cut parsley to encourage growth?

  • Cut clippings from the outside to encourage new growth in the middle of the plant
  • Cut any flowers that begin forming to extend the life of your herb

How to Preserve Parsley in Fridge?

  • Place stems of freshly cut Parsley into a glass of water
  • Store the glass full of Parsley in the fridge to extend the life and flavor of the herb
  • Change the water as needed

How to Eat Parsley?

  • Use the leaves only when eating Parsley. The stems are very bitter and won’t have that sweeter flavor the leaves do.
how to dry parsley

What is Parsley Good for in Cooking?

  • Frittata
  • Omlette
  • Garnish for hummus
  • Topping salmon
  • Bean salads
  • Cauliflower with lemon/olive oil
  • Shrimp dip
  • Crab dip
  • Vegetable stock
  • Vegetable soup
  • Salad dressing
  • Including in salad as greenery

Dried Parsley Uses

  • Burgers
  • Risotto
  • Potatoes

Have too much Parsley, and you’re not sure what to do?

Dry your Parsley so you can use it all year round.

How to dry Parsley?

  1. Cut stems of Parsley from the outer edge of the plant
  2. Tie the stems together
  3. Place Parsley in a paper bag
  4. Poke a couple of holes in the bag to aerate them.
  5. Store the bag in a cool, dry area for a couple of weeks.
  6. After 2 weeks, take your Parsley and grind them up with your fingers. You should have a nice medium grind – perfect for adding to dishes
  7. Store in an airtight container for ~ 1 year.

By using the paper bag method, you’ll keep the strong green color and flavor as much as possible.

Parsley is a light, fresh herb that adds character to dishes like eggs, meat, dips and potatoes. Try growing it for yourself next summer and see how you like cooking with your freshly grown herb.

How to Grow, Dry, Preserve & Use Oregano in Cooking

Oregano uses in Cooking

  • Oregano adds a bitter, earthy, pungent flavor to dishes
  • To balance out other strong flavors like onions, garlic, thyme, lemon

How to use Oregano Leaves?

  • Fresh leaves can be used in place of dried Oregano. Fresh Oregano is stronger than dried Oregano, so taste test before adding too much
  • Dried leaves need to be crumpled in your fingers first, then added to your dish

How to Grow Oregano Indoors?

  • Plant seeds/new plant from a nursery in fresh soil and place in a container that is able to drain out the bottom
  • Place in a window that gets a lot of sun
  • Water only when the soil feels dry
  • Water until it starts draining out the bottom of the container
  • Grow the plant at least 4 inches tall before trimming the plant
  • Continue to clip the plant periodically to encourage new growth
  • Perennial – self seeding plant
  • Drought tolerant

How do you Preserve Fresh Oregano Leaves?

  1. Freeze oregano leaves right before the plant flowers. These will be the most flavorful plant leaves. 
  2. Store frozen leaves in an airtight container. 
  3. Thaw leaves for 10 min before using.
  4. Crumple leaves in your fingers, then add them to your dish to ignite the flavor.

How to Dry Fresh Oregano?

  1. Clip oregano stocks right before it flowers
  2. Tie stocks together at the bottom
  3. Hang Oregano upside down
  4. Let dry for 3 days in the sun/or ~7 days inside (place a paper bag underneath so it will gather any droppings if you’re drying Oregano inside. 
  5. After Oregano is finished drying, get a bowl to harvest your Oregano in.
  6. Place the bowl outside so you don’t get a mess everywhere inside.   
  7. Run your fingers down the stock gathering the leaves into the bowl.
  8. Multiple stocks can be done at a time.
  9. If you want a finer Oregano – use your fingers to grind the Oregano up into a smaller herb.
  10. Store in an airtight container.

What is Oregano Good for in Cooking?

  • Oregano is best known for being used throughout many mediterranean dishes including Greek salad, pizza sauce, and pasta sauce
  • marinades/rubs for chicken, beef and fish
  • Including in roasted potatoes, carrots, butternut squash, red onions
  • Add to pizza dough for extra flavor
  • Topping for breadsticks
  • Oregano pesto
  • Greek Salad
  • Infused oil for dipping sauce or focaccia bread
  • Herbed butter
  • Brown butter sauce addition
  • Olive oil pasta addition
  • Stuffing

Oregano Plant Types

  • Mild Oregano – Golden
  • Strong, pungent Oregano – Greek
  • Spicy Oregano – Syrian
  • Common Oregano – marjoram hybrid- Italian
  • Common Oregano

Marjoram is from the Oregano family. Marjoram is commonly used in Northern Italy instead of Oregano. It’s a bit sweeter, lighter flavor than common Oregano. It’s not as harsh or bitter as common Oregano. It’s usually only used at the end of cooking, because cooking Marjoram can kill off the flavor of the herb. Oregano is much more heat resistant. You can use Oregano early on in the cooking process without losing it’s pungent, bitter flavor.

margarita flatbread fresh basil
Oregano is a key ingredient in Pizza Sauce

Sweet Basil uses in Cooking

Sweet basil is very useful to add a punch of flavor in your cooking. It’s one of the most fragrant, strong herbs you can add to a dish.

how to use basil in pasta dishes

What are some appetizers you could use sweet basil for?

homemade bruschetta with basil

Roasted Tomato Bruschetta Recipe

How to make roasted tomato bruschetta with fresh basil, restaurant style
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 22 mins
Total Time 52 mins
Course Appetizer
Servings 2 people

Equipment

  • Oven
  • brush

Ingredients
  

  • 1 pkg grape tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup olive oil extra virgin
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • Pinch pepper
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil cut into strips
  • 1/2 baguette sliced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil for brushing bread
  • 1 garlic clove cut in half
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese grated

Instructions
 

  • Place grape tomatoes into a small bowl and drizzle olive oil on top. Add salt and pepper. Mix gently with a spoon until all the tomatoes are covered in oil.
  • On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, place grapes evenly dispersed on the pan.
  • Bake at 400 degrees F for 20 min.
  • While the tomatoes are baking, slice half of the baguette. Brush each piece of baguette with olive oil on one side.
  • Once the tomatoes are finished baking, preheat the oven to broil on high.
  • Broil the bread for 1-2 min, watch carefully. Only toast them until your desired doneness.
  • Place the tomatoes into a small bowl and add fresh cut basil. Mix them together with a spoon.
  • After the bread has finished toasting, rub each piece of bread with the ½ garlic. This gives it just a hint of garlic flavor, without being overpowering.
  • Add tomato mixture onto the bread pieces.
  • Top with freshly grated parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

Notes

homemade bruschetta
Keyword appetizer, bread, bruschetta
prosciutto appetizer bread

Prosciutto Appetizer with Apples

Flavor packed appetizer served on a sliced baguette
Prep Time 30 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Appetizer
Servings 10 people

Ingredients
  

  • 100 grams prosciutto separated into long 6 cm pieces x 1 cm width
  • 2 tbsp fig jam
  • 10 leaves basil fresh
  • 1/2 apple thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp balsamic reduction
  • 1 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
  • 1 baguette sliced

Instructions
 

  • Slice baguette into rounds that are ~1 cm thick
  • Brush baguette slices with olive oil
  • Toast baguette slices for 2 min on broil high in the oven
  • Remove baguette slices from the oven and set on a serving plate
  • Using a knife, apply a bit of fig jam to each of the baguette slices
  • Place 1 basil leaf on top of each of the baguette slices
  • Cut the apple in half. Cut the halves in half. Remove the seeds/center bits. Slice the apple thinly so they fit nicely on the baguette slices.
  • Place the prosciutto on top of the apple slices
  • Top with a bit of balsamic reduction

Notes

prosciutto appetizer with fig jam
Keyword appetizer, bread

What are some pizza recipe ideas to use sweet basil with?

What are some pasta recipe ideas to use sweet basil with?

Sweet basil has many uses in cooking, from appetizers to pizza and pasta, you’ll never run out of ideas to use it with! With it’s strong flavor, it spices up recipes with it’s aromatic fragrance.

sweet basil how to use in pasta recipe ideas

How to use Basil in Pasta

Basil is used in pasta at the very end of making a pasta dish. Only the basil leaves are used in pasta. Cut off the stems and then place only the leaves into your dish.

how to use basil in pasta dishes

When to put Basil into your Pasta Dish?

Remove your pan from heat with your freshly made pasta sauce. Add the basil and mix into the pasta. Mix until it’s all wilted and shrunken in size. This is when it will be releasing it’s flavors into the pasta. The heat will penetrate the basil leaves and infuse it’s flavor into the pasta. Pasta is able to absorb flavors very well. 

sweet basil how to use in pasta recipe ideas

How to use Basil in Pesto for Pasta dishes?

Basil can also be used to make fresh pesto. The fresh pesto can be used as a sauce for pasta. Add in your vegetables – peppers and tomatoes for a delicious dinner idea.

Creamy pesto sauce is also an option for pasta. To create a creamy pesto sauce begin by making a roux – ¼ cup butter + ¼ cup flour. Add 1 1/2 cups milk. Mix together and add 2 tbsp pesto. Thicken with ⅓ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese. 

Why is basil a great addition to pasta?

Basil has a strong sweet smelling flavor. The moment your hands touch it, the flavor is on your hands, that’s how strong it is. By adding this sweet plant to your pasta, it balances out the flavors of garlic and tomatoes. It adds a freshness to the pasta and makes it feel like a light dish because it tastes refreshing. Fresh basil is a delicious herb addition to your favorite pasta dish.

How to Harvest and Dry Lavender for Cooking

Harvesting and drying lavender for cooking involves drying the lavender first.

lavender with stems

How to dry lavender for cooking?

Cut the stems just below the flowers when they are in full bloom. This time is the best time for harvesting lavender. The fragrance is the strongest when lavender is in full bloom. It will keep the fragrance and flavour when you dry it, if you’re harvesting during this time.

Bundle the lavender stems together with a string. Tie the lavender together and hang it upside down. Place a plate underneath them to gather up any droppings so it won’t make a huge mess.

Be sure to place your bundle of lavender in the darkest room in the house, even in a closet that doesn’t get opened too often. The darker the room, the more fragrance it will retain while drying. Leave the lavender to dry for ~ 1 week.

How to harvest lavender for cooking?

Here are 3 different ways to harvest them:

  1. Hold the stems. Put a plate under the lavender to gather all of the buds. Shake the lavender until the buds fall from the stems. 
  1. If you only need a few buds run your finger down the stem to remove the buds. 
  1. Place dried lavender in a sealed bag. Roll the bag until all the dried lavender buds have been removed from the stems. You’ll have to tip the bag at an angle to get them out from the bottom. Or, you can remove the stems from the bag and you are ready to store your dried lavender buds.
lavender buds

Once you’re finished harvesting your lavender, you can store the excess for your next cooking adventure with lavender. 

How to store your harvested lavender?

Store in an airtight container or resealable bag. Store your container in a dark area. The darker the area, the more likely the vibrant purple color will stay. If your lavender is exposed to light, the color will fade.

How to use lavender in cooking?

When you’re using lavender for cooking, you’ll be infusing the flavours like you do when you make tea. For making ice cream you boil the flavour to infuse it into the ice cream. Then you strain out the florets afterwards so it makes it a creamy lavender flavouring. 

If you’re using it with cookies, you’ll be grinding it up with a mortar and pestle into a fine ground powder as much as possible. You don’t want to be using the full floret, as that won’t give you the texture you’re looking for in your baking. Texture is incredibly important when you’re baking, so try to stick to your recipes and what they recommend on how to process it when you’re using lavender in cooking.

lavender-ice-cream

How to use lavender in a cocktail?

Use the full florets in a shaker. Add lime and a bit of sugar. Muddle the lavender so the flavour will be infused into your cocktail. Add a little more if you need more flavour.

How to use lavender when making a lavender mojito?

Put the lavender in with the mint, lime and sugar and muddle it all together at the same time. You’ll love this new twist to your mojito! 

13 lavender recipe ideas for your newly harvested lavender

  • Lavender lemonade
  • Lavender shortbread cookies
  • Lavender vanilla tarts
  • Lavender honey ice cream
  • Lavender lemon bars
  • Lavender thyme sorbet
  • Lavender mojitos
  • Lemon lavender cake with lemon icing
  • Lavender creme brulee
  • Blackberry lavender cake
  • Lavender latte
  • Lavender jelly
  • Lavender blueberry pie