Although most people love warmer weather, it does have one serious downside – mosquitoes. Not only are they an irritant, leading to itchiness and other allergic reactions, they can carry serious diseases, including malaria, dengue, and the newly discovered zika virus. So it’s important to avoid being bitten but that’s not as easy as it sounds. Mosquitoes have been around a lot longer than human beings and they have an exceptional sense of smell for such a small creature. They can detect a potential target from 30 metres away and so one of the best defences is to become “invisible” to them by changing your chemical signature.
They are attracted by the carbon dioxide that human beings breathe out and the larger you are, the more carbon dioxide you will exhale. This goes for pregnant women, too, who often report that they are bitten more frequently than usual. Mosquitoes can also detect blood type, and people with Type O blood are twice as liable to be bitten as people with Type A. If you’re sweating a lot, or drinking beer, you’re also more likely to be attacked. You can spray yourself with artificial chemicals in the hope of deterring them but a better idea is to use a natural plant-based insect repellent – citronella oil. It’s an essential oil obtained from the leaves and stems of lemongrass. It’s effective but it’s also non-toxic and so safe for humans and pets to put directly on the skin.
As well as being an anti-fungal, and effective at calming barking, anxious dogs, citronella masks the smell of carbon dioxide and perspiration that attracts mosquitoes. It comes in a variety of forms: candles, incense sticks, coils, oils (for use in oil burners), and sprays. Canadian researchers found that lighting a citronella candle reduced the number of mosquito landings by nearly half. Most people find that a combination of citronella products works best. Use the personal sprays if you fall into one of the higher risk categories above in conjunction with the coils, the oils, or the candles.
Think about your environment as well and make sure that your garden is well maintained, with no standing water where mosquitoes can lay their eggs. If you put saucers under your flower-pots, make sure that there’s no stagnant water lurking in them. If you enjoy fresh flowers in your home, change the water every couple of days.
You can purchase a variety of high quality citronella products from the Tropical Spice Garden’s two shops in Penang as well as online.
Stevia is fast replacing sugar and the sweetener that is becoming popular. There are a lot of packaged stevia for sale in the stores today. However we recommend that you make your own pure and liquid stevia from the stevia leaves.
- Dried stevia leaves
- 1 cup of hot filtered water
- ¼ cup of pure grounded stevia (this is needed to make liquid stevia)
- Grind the stevia leaves in a food processor or better yet a coffee grinder to make pure stevia. Make enough for a cup or more if you prefer. Store the grounded stevia in an air-tight jar, ready for use.
- Note – To cook with stevia simply replace every 1 cup of sugar with 3 to 4 teaspoons of stevia.
- To make liquid stevia, dissolve ¼ cup of the stevia powder with 1 cup of hot filtered water. Stir well and leave out to cool at room temperature for a day. After a day strain the stevia out of the liquid and store the liquid stevia in the refrigerator
That is it! The taste is amazing with the calories and it’s good for your health. The Tropical Spice Garden Gift Shop sells top grade stevia leaves in 40gms and 110gms packages, ready for use.
Looking for gifts but do not have the time to go and shop?
Our online shop has just gone live today! Introducing TSG’s range of:
- Top grade spices
- +Spice Therapy range of massage oil, handmade soaps, essential oils, body mists and bath salts; made from pure essential oils here in Malaysia
- Citronella range of essential oil, body spray and mosquito coils
- Perfume incense cones
Do check it out here: http://tropicalspicegarden.com/shop/
There will be more products coming your way!
We are happy to announce TSG gift shop now stocks fresh, pure vanilla pods! Adding fresh vanilla to your recipes, will add the extra flour in your baking recipes!
Frederic Rosengarten, Jr. described vanilla in The Book of Spices as “pure, spicy, and delicate”; he called its complex floral aroma a “peculiar bouquet”. As a result, vanilla is widely used in both commercial and domestic baking. It is also used for perfume manufacture and aromatherapy! Vanilla is the second most expensive spice after saffron because growing the vanilla seed pods is labour-intensive.
How to Prep a Whole Vanilla Bean
What You Need
Fresh, plump, soft vanilla pod
Small, sharp paring knife
Smooth-surfaced cutting board
Small hook or pushpin (optional)
- Split the pod lengthwise into two halves:Assemble your cutting board, knife, and vanilla pod. Anchor the pod to the cutting board with your non-dominate hand. This helps you to maneuver the pod without getting your fingers full of the precious vanilla seeds. Start cutting gently without cutting the pod into two, as close to the hook as possible; firmly run the tip of the paring knife down the length of the pod.
- Scrape the pod halves: Still holding the hooked area down on the cutting board, run the unsharpened side of your knife down the length of each of the pod halves, using firm pressure. Use the dull side of the knife to carefully but thoroughly scrape the seeds.
- Use the seeds and save the pod!Go ahead and add the seeds to your recipe but don’t throw away the pod! You make your own vanilla sugar by adding the split and de-seeded pod to a canister of sugar sealing it well. Let it sit for at least two weeks and voila you have just make your own vanilla sugar!