Friday, November 30, 2012

Making Homemade Extracts

Never tried this before, but I did it and so can you, it was really easy!

I made the following extracts:
Vanilla (still brewing to full strength)

Instructions for Mint Extract:

Gather, wash and dry mint leaves-1 cup of leaves
Pour vodka over the mint in a sterilized / clean jar-1 cup of vodka
Shake and let sit for 2 weeks
Strain the mint leaves out, discard
Pour into a pretty jar.  I ordered mine from Mountain Rose Herb Company, click on the picture to check out  their company.
Amber Glass Bottles

Instructions for Citrus Extract (I made 1 lemon and 1 orange)
Gather a few oranges, lemons, or other citrus (depending on the variety you're making)
Zest / Peel the skin only off of a few fruits.  You want to be careful not to get the white part because it will make your extract very bitter.
Pour vodka over the peel in a sterilized / clean jar-1 cup of vodka
Shake and let sit.  Unlike the mint you don't have to strain it out in any hurry, you can leave it for a month or two.  I left mine for a month and then strained it into the pretty bottle.   Some recipes you just leave the peel in there forever and add vodka as you want to make more extract.  I would rather start with a clean batch each time.

FYI, I did a taste test on the Orange Extract since I still had some of my Watkins Orange Extract in the pantry and I could NOT tell any difference in flavor so no more bottles of 5.99 for an ounce of extract! I made 8-16 ounces of each extract and even factoring in buying the bottles, vanilla and vodka I still made these for a fraction of the cost. (Plus someone left a bottle of vodka at my house after a party so I didn't even have to buy the vodka! I just used what I had.)

Vanilla Extract

Hands down I use Vanilla Extract the most out of any extract, with Orange Extract being a close second so even though this vanilla extract did cost me $ to make I can make much more quantity than I can buy for the price.

For the vanilla extract you pour vodka over several split vanilla pods and then let it develop over a period of about 6 months.  You can use it at anytime but it gets stronger the longer it ages, so this one I'm still waiting to use. I have it sitting in my baking pantry in a large mason jar and I still have about 4 more months before I think I'll try using it, I want to make sure it is good and strong.

I purchased a vial of vanilla pods from Mountain Rose Herb Company for $7.00 and I only used half of them to make 16 ounces of extract.  Click on picture to go to their website and order.

Other helpful hints:

While googling the heck out of extract making I thought it was a pretty cool idea that some people had to use mini liquor bottles to try and make their vanilla extract with different rums, etc.  I suppose that would flavor differently and the little bottles look cool and you don't have to invest in a large bottle of any one liquor, so that seemed like a good idea.

Almond Extract
I wanted to make almond extract but based on my research, if you poured vodka over the type of almonds we eat, it would never develop a true almond extract flavor.  The type of almonds used in extract making are Marcona almonds and they are not allowed to be sold to the general public as they are considered poisonous.  Interesting, huh! So I'll still be buying almond extract as my husband uses it quite often to make his Italian cookies.

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