Vanilla from Vanessa at Juniper & Rose

One of the fabulous things about the Internet, is its ability to connect people… In this case, a couple of weeks ago (yes, blogging has fallen slightly by the wayside lately), I received a delicious-smelling parcel to my desk at work…

And inside, were seven pods of vanilla all the way from Uganda, via Vanessa Kimbell from Juniper and Rose.

Vanilla is one of those things that I LOVE, but haven’t had for a very long time!

Anyway, I left it wrapped in its foil until today while I pondered what to do with it…

Pod #1 has been finely sliced and scraped out into a Kilner jar of sugar, to make vanilla sugar.

Pod #2 & 3 are going to be stood in a tall sealed jar of rice, to infuse – and to make heavenly rice pudding with a little further down the line…

Pods 4, 5, 6 and 7 are wrapped in tin foil, sticky and black and heady, awaiting their fates on top of the microwave…

How exciting – and luxurious! If anyone has any suggestions as to what to do with the remaining ones, give me a shout! Thanks Vanessa! 🙂





Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe. Email:

Categories: Recipes & Food


  1. What a lovely gift! Not the cheapest or quickest but perhaps but you could make your own vanilla extract with some vodka (or maybe other alcohol would work?) and you can make it last forever if you keep topping up the liquid which makes it very economical and will give you years of use 🙂 Rx

  2. Vanilla Custard, scrape the pod contents into milk
    seep for a couple of hours Make custards, Portuguese Egg Custard Tarts,
    English Custard Tart with Nutmeg
    or baked custard as in Creme Brûlée or Catalan Flan

    Good Luck

    Sent from my iPad

  3. You can make your own vanilla extract by soaking the pods in some alcohol–Vodka is the stuff if you can buy,or beg some. That way you will get a long term benefit from the lovely gift.

  4. i love a hot milk drink with vanilla in just before bed. lovely and comforting to send you off to sleep….cookies and cupcakes taste heavenly with vanilla added too,

  5. My mother would say to offer to trade someone some of the resulting extract for some vodka or brandy to make it with. Vodka may be cheaper though, if you have to buy. I have done this and I can truly say it is much better than the stuff you get at the store, albeit a little lighter colored. And you can use a scraped out pod to make vanilla sugar or extract, you just might need to use more of them.

  6. Use 3 whole pods to make vanilla syrup that will keep in the fridge for up to a year. Boil up 100g sugar with 100ml water. Add 3 chopped pods. Leave to infuse for 20 minutes then liquidise. Doesn’t waste anything and can be used instead of either vanilla or vanilla extract, giving those lovely flecks.

  7. I agree, what a great present. I too make vanilla essence with supermarket own brand vodka. But you won’t need a whole bottle, so I also have a bottle with orange zest and coriander seed and one with just cardamom.

    I use these essences when I want flavour but I don’t want ‘bits’. My current favouriteW is cashew milk: soak a dozen nuts for four hours, blend with enough water for desired consistency. Add tiny pinch of salt (surprisingly important). Can then have as is in cereal, in smoothies (yes even with tinned fruit) or add splash of essence, chill and drink. Have even heated with sugar and corn flour to make custard!

    Have just today experimented blending cold cooked basmati rice and that too makes great milk.

    I know there are plenty of recipes out there for other nut milks but these don’t need straining and frankly, life being the length it is…

      • Glad you like it. I love your blog and you’ve already inspired me to cook a big veg tagine and am excited about cooking more of your recipes.

        I’m just drinking a basmati rice, over-ripe banana and vanilla smoothie and it’s delicious.

  8. Hi Jack,
    I found your blog through a news article.
    I noticed your interest in making rice milk. I make rice milk for cooking and for my own consumption (as I can’t have dairy).Simplest method — I put 1 cup cooked brown rice through the blender with 2 cups of water, adding the water only a bit at a time. I strain out any pieces through a mesh sieve, then run those through the blender with just a bit of the liquid once more. I then add some sweetening (honey, sugar, whatever I’m in the mood for), a bit of vanilla, pinch of salt and some oil. It is thinner than dairy milk, but works great in my tea, coffee, smoothies, on oatmeal, in custards and baking.

    Other method, and my favorite — If I plan ahead, I soak raw rice in water for several hours and grind that with water, and make all the additions. To rid this rice milk of it’s raw taste, I microwave half of it, then blend with the other half that is still raw tasting. This second method has a lot of “sludge” remaining. I cook that into cream of rice breakfast cereal.

  9. When I have scrapped the seeds out of the pod for use in something – I just put the pod in my caster sugar and have a mild vanilla sugar which means if I don’t have vanilla essence I have some vanilla in my cooking. I just take the vanilla pod out and put it into the new bag when I have finished. I have had the same one in use for at least a year.

  10. Oh Jack, I hadn’t expected to find this. I was just catching up with your blog and coming across this is like finding an unopened Christmas present under the tree as you are taking it down. How lovely!

    PS Congratulations on F & M award.

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