Vanilla, the (really) early years
It is the ancient Totonaco Indians of Mexico who were the first keepers of the secrets of vanilla. When they were defeated by the Aztecs, they were demanded to relinquish their exotic fruit of the Tlilxochitl vine, vanilla pods.
When, in turn, the Aztecs were defeated by the conquering Spaniard, Hernando Cortez, he returned to Spain with the precious plunder – vanilla beans – which were combined with cacao to make an unusual and pleasing drink. For eighty years, this special beverage was only enjoyed by the nobility and the very rich. Then, in 1602, Hugh Morgan, apothecary to Queen Elizabeth I, suggested that vanilla could be used as a flavoring all by itself, and the versatility of the exotic bean was finally uncovered. (from http://www.nielsenmassey.com/historyofvanilla.htm)
I was first introduced to vanilla bean infused jojoba oil by my friend Teshan who would make this for her lip balms. I always loved walking in her house when the vanilla was being infused on her stove top. And her lip balm: it was the best lip balm I have ever used!
This is a divine oil to have throughout the Winter months. Its aroma has the ability to uplift and inspire through the cold of the winter. A great antidepressant and so simple to make.
- 2 cups Jojoba (organic) or Sesame
- 5-6 organic vanilla beans
- Double boiler OR Glass jar to infuse
- Time and patience.
NOTE: I have a sesame oil vanilla infusion in the works. The sesame oil adds a warmth to the infusion. It does smell a bit different from a jojoba infusion, more earthy, almost burning-wood-like aroma.
Instructions on making a vanilla bean infusion
Begin with organic (fair trade, even better) vanilla pods. Carefully slice them down the center, lengthwise. At this point you can remove seeds and place the seeds in your sterilized jar or pot for infusing. Then cut bean into small pieces and place into the jar or pot with the seeds. OR You can simply slice the vanilla beans lengthwise and then cut into small pieces (without removing seeds) and place the pieces into your jar/pot for infusing.
You can do a ‘cold’ infusion or a double boiler infusion. If you are doing a ‘cold’ infusion: Pour Jojoba oil into jar, cap, label, and set in sunny window. Let infuse for 4-6 weeks.
**If using a double boiler: place about 1 cup of water in the bottom pot, place the vanilla/jojoba into the pot on top and set stove top temperature to low (2-3). Place lid on. I typically leave this running throughout the day for about 2-3 days. Each day, when I am home, I turn on the heat low and let it remain heating for as long as I am at home. After 2-3 days the oil infusion is ready to be strained. You will need: a fine mesh strainer and a bowl.
Strain infused oil through cheese cloth. *The oil may have the vanilla seeds in it even after straining. You can pour the oil into a sterilized jar carefully leaving the seeds in a bit of oil at the bottom. Use the oil with the seeds as a gentle facial exfoliant or add into some salt for a heavenly body scrub.
Use the vanilla infused oil as a body oil, facial oil, in lip balms, massage oil blends, body butters, and skin salves.