All-Natural Epicurious Hedgehog Orange Extract

NEI’s all-natural Epicurious Hedgehog Orange Extract is made from sun-soaked bitter oranges (citrus x aurentium), hand-picked by farmers in the lush coastal groves of Tanga in Tanzania. Orange oil is extracted from the fruits’ peels by rolling them over a plate of spikes, a very time intensive process. The oil is then brought to NEI’s factory to be processed into extract.

The processing begins with a solution of sugarcane ethanol and water being added to an extraction tank. The orange oil is then stirred into this solution.


During the slow mixing process, which lasts for days, aromatic compounds from the oil dissolve into the solution, while the unpalatable compounds remain in the oil (these are called terpenes).

The mixture then cools and partitions itself. The oil settles on the top, separated from the extract by a buffer. The extract is removed from the tank, containing all the the bitter orange zest flavour from the oil, but with none of the terpenes remaining in the extract.

The extract is then filtered, bottled and ready to be sold. Recently, our orange extract has been significantly improved – its strength and flavour have been perfected. It is concentrated and flavoursome, bursting with bright citrus zest flavours. It is a perfect addition to baked goods, sorbets, ice-creams and cocktails. A very small amount goes a long way. Be sure to try this recipe for cranberry orange oatmeal cookies, mix yourself a cranberry orange rum cocktail, or whip up a balsamic orange vinaigrette for your salad, and experience the delicious citrus flavour for yourself!


Cranberry Orange Oatmeal Cookies

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Epicurious Hedgehog Vanilla Extract
  • 1 teaspoon Epicurious Hedgehog Orange Extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar and white sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla and orange extract. Combine the flour, baking soda and cinnamon; stir into the butter mixture. Stir in the oats and cranberries. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden brown. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Cranberry Orange Rum Cocktail

  • 6 cups cranberry juice
  • 1 teaspoons Epicurious Hedgehog Orange Extract (add more as desired)
  • 1 1/2 cups spiced rum

Pour the cranberry juice, orange extract and rum into a glass pitcher. Stir to combine. Chill for four to six hours. Yields 4 servings.


Balsamic Orange Vinaigrette

  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon spicy mustard or dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic or garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon lemon juice (fresh or bottled)
  • 1/8 teaspoon Epicurious Hedgehog Orange Extract

Whisk all ingredients together in a jar.

Meet our Farmer Champions!

NEI has over 1600 farmers registered in our agricultural network. Each farmer is provided with training and support in the practice of intercropping vanilla with their more traditional crops like bananas. In order to accomplish this training, NEI operates using a Farmer Champion model. Farmer Champions are well-respected members of their community who, in addition to caring for their own vanilla vines, visit and advise other farmers in their area. Farmer Champions attend training sessions, on topics such as pollination, disease and pest management, and harvesting, and disseminate this knowledge throughout our farmer network.

We are happy to introduce you to two of our most outstanding Farmer Champions!

Wilfred David Swaifullsizeoutput_3b51

Wilfred lives in the village of Mbweera in the Kilimanjaro region with his wife. After retiring from teaching, Wilfred expanded his small farm and now grows coffee, bananas, and vanilla vines. He has been with NEI for 5 years and has planted 70 vanilla vines at his farm!

Wilfred hopes to add more vanilla vines in the future. With his extra income from vanilla, he is able to invest in other economic activities, such as raising pigs and poultry, or his passion for beekeeping. He has also been able to extend the educational opportunities for his family.

Wilfred has a very important role at NEI. As a Farmer Champion, it is Wilfred’s role to share skills learned from NEI’s training sessions with our other farmers. For Wilfred this comes naturally, as his teaching background makes him a natural leader in the community.


Evaline Kimaro   fullsizeoutput_3b52

Evaline is a retired nurse who lives in the village of Mbosho in the Kilimanjaro region. Despite being retired, she often still works in her local dispensary, as well as looking after her farm and helping take care of her five grandchildren. Evaline grows coffee, bananas, maize, beans and vanilla.

Evaline has been growing vanilla vines for 12 years. This year, she had one of the largest harvests of all NEI’s farmers, despite the unfavourable weather. She worked incredibly hard to carry buckets of water to her plants to make sure the vines thrived.

Here, Evaline is shown participating in NEI’s training on pollination.