our favourite ways to use vanilla

We have chosen a couple of our favourite, no-fuss recipes to get you started cooking with real vanilla. Although we generally associate vanilla with desserts and ice cream, in fact, it is extremely versatile and can enhance your savoury, seafood and meat dishes, too. So don’t be afraid to try our sensational Vanilla Caramelised Balsamic Vinegar on everything from ice cream to roast veg, or drizzled over your still-sizzling steak, for example, or throw a dash of pure extract into your next banana smoothie. For more recipes, sign up to our blog. We can even email you every new recipe directly if you like (we won’t share your email with anyone else).


Pure Vanilla Beans

Hand Reared With Love

As the morning mists rise from the folds of the valleys at the foot of Mt Bartle Frere and its offshoot peak, Broken Nose in tropical North Queensland, we set off to hand pollinate every small vanilla orchid flower. The long, green, bean-like vanilla pod forms in a matter of weeks and then takes nine months to mature.

The “babies” are harvested by hand as they start to turn from green to yellow as the weather starts to cool the following year. Then begins the daily process of alternately sun-heating and sweating that stimulate the enzymes to develop the heady familiar aroma of vanilla. Over a period of months, the green beans lose five-sixths of their weight and are transformed into wizened, brown but flavourful and supple vanilla pods.

Yoghurt Pannacotta with Lime


1 split vanilla bean
1c milk
1c plain yoghurt
1/3 c caster sugar
1 sachet gelatine

Add a squeeze of lemon or lime if desired for a slightly tarter flavour.


  1. Gently warm milk and sugar in a small saucepan, add split vanilla bean and hold just off the boil for around 15mins to allow the vanilla flavour to infuse.
  2. Meanwhile, soak 1 sachet of gelatine in 1TB of warm milk until dissolved.
  3. Whisk gelatine into the mixture in the saucepan – whisk thoroughly until all the gelatine has disappeared.
  4. Little by little, add the warm mixture to the cold yoghurt in a bowl and whisk thoroughly until smooth.
  5. Pour into slightly oiled moulds and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
  6. Serve in the moulds, or turn out onto a plate, and garnish with seasonal fruit or a twist of lime zest.


Pure Vanilla Paste

Pure Vanilla Extract

Gift of the Goddess

Vanilla’s long history of seduction and luxury starts with the Mexican myth of Xanath, the goddess of fertility, who fell in love with a mortal and transformed herself into the graceful vanilla vine to stay forever entwined with him.

Now vanilla is grown across the world’s tropical belt, including in the wet tropics of northern Australia where it develops its own distinctive flavour.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake


100g unsalted butter
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
½ cup roughly chopped
macadamia nuts
8 slices pineapple
1 quarter tsp of Pure
Vanilla Paste

1 ½ cups cake flour
2 ½ tsp freshly ground
Aussie black pepper
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
150g unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 cup sour cream
3 TB fresh lime juice
1tsp pure vanilla extract


  1. Heat oven to 200°C.
  2. Melt sugar and 100g butter gently in a small saucepan until the mixture is bubbly. Add the vanilla paste. Pour into a greased 9"(25cm) cake pan and to evenly coat the bottom. Arrange pineapple and macadamias on top of the brown sugar mixture – this will be the top of the cake.
  3. In a bowl, mix together flour, pepper, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and set aside. In another bowl, beat remaining butter and sugar with a hand mixer until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Add sour cream, juice, and vanilla, and beat until fully mixed and smooth.
  4. Beat in the dry ingredients until just combined. Pour batter into cake pan and bake for about one hour or until golden brown.
  5. Cool for a few minutes, and then run a sharp knife around edges to separate cake from pan. Invert onto a serving plate, and let cool completely before serving - with home-made vanilla ice cream, if you like.

The vanilla extract can be replaced with a vanilla bean in both the glaze and cake - it will still taste sensational!


Pure Vanilla Beans

Learning To Adapt

Looking for a lifestyle change, we struck on the idea of growing vanilla in the tropics of north Queensland. A week before cyclone Larry hit us square on the nose, we purchased our five-hectare property in a lush valley one hour south of Cairns under Queensland’s highest peak, Mt Bartle Frere, and its offshoot, Broken Nose.

We regularly receive six metres of rain – no need for irrigation here – and even after cyclone Yasi five years later tested our resolve and our anti-cyclone strategies, we are still going.

We respect the nurturing qualities of our natural environment (no chemicals here!) and try to work in harmony with our climate and what it offers. Of course we have challenges, but we love what we do, the people we meet and the food we produce. Every day is a learning experience – sweetened by the pervasive, distinctive aroma of pure vanilla. This recipe is one developed by Matt.

Vanilla Lime Seafood Sauce


1 vanilla bean
100g butter
½ small clove of garlic
½ kaffir lime leaf
½ teaspoon sugar
juice of a large lime
1 cup cream


  1. Scrape out seeds from one vanilla pod – set aside the seeds.
  2. Put the empty pod and all other ingredients except the cream into a saucepan. Simmer over low-med heat – turn heat down as soon as it starts to boil. Reduce to a paste.
  3. Add the cream and bring slowly back to a simmer. When it starts to boil, add the vanilla seeds and simmer for about 15 minutes to allow the flavour to infuse.
  4. Serve over freshly cooked fish or seared scallops or other seafood.