reviewed by Christina Lopez
I have been making my extracts for years. You will never need to question what goes into the cheap flavoring alternatives when you have the "real-deal." The food and baked goods you prepare will taste better and explode with genuine flavor!
They also make extraordinary gifts for many occasions. A homemade extract gift set is a perfect present for holidays, weddings, housewarmings, and more!
I like to make my extracts rich in flavor. You will note that these extracts are different from others you may have seen on the internet as my ingredients are often higher. This ensures a premium quality and taste every time!
Let's get Extracting!
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Enjoy this preview on how to make homemade extracts. It will give you a look at what is to come in this article. For full details, see below.
This is an essential list of tools to gather before we get started. Every recipe here uses these vital supplies. You likely have most of this is in your house right now. If you are interested in the same tools I have used in creating these homemade extracts; I will put a list at the end of the article.
See each Recipe for Ingredients and quantities.
Extracts are long termed food storage, and it is essential to prevent any harmful bacteria. Sterilization is easy and crucial when it comes to making extracts, tinctures, and basic canning procedures. This will be even more essential if you choose to go a non-alcoholic choice with your extracts.
If you have sanitation mode on your dishwasher, this can be as easy as running everything through right before you are ready to use it. Otherwise, you will need to follow the old-fashion boil water method. Using at least 40% alcohol, 80 proof recommended here is also a form of sterilization for tools you cannot submerge.
For more sterilization tips, see this wiki-how article.
Vanilla beans are one of the most expensive spices/herbs in the world. Second only to saffron. This makes pure vanilla extract a costly purchase when shopping for the "real" thing. Vanilla flavoring is a disgusting alternative that uses tar creosote and leftovers from paper mills! Seriously!
Save money and get the real thing by making it yourself!
Vanilla extract in this small form can be used in 6 to 8 weeks. It will have an excellent rich taste by then that will match any store-bought typical single fold vanilla extract if you want a more potent double-fold extract to increase the beans to 8 and allow sitting for a minimum of 6 months.
Pure vanilla extract in a small bottle like this for personal use I will typically leave unstrained. I go through it so fast that it often does not have time to set any cloudy appearance. Many people will continue to add vodka and let it sit. I find that it dilutes the quality I love, but you are welcome to try it. See the article I mention below on a large batch recipe I used to create fantastic rich double-fold vanilla.
To strain after eight weeks. Place a metal strainer over a sterile glass measuring cup lined with cheesecloth. The cheesecloth will grab any tiny particles. Pour the jar contents over the filter. Using a clean knife, scrape any remaining seed remnants from the inside of the pods into the cheesecloth and remove the hard bean shells.
Gather the ends of the cheesecloth together, forming a pouch. Squeeze any remaining liquid from the cloth over the strainer and into the glass measuring cup. Return the strained liquid to the bottle and recap.
Do you make ice cream? Or another item that calls for vanilla? These tiny seeds still pack a punch. I place them in a small container and use them up in a few days in smoothies or other lovely treats! Give it a try!
In a recent article on-site, I explored a lot about what pure vanilla extract is and why you should be making your own. For a more detailed look into this beautiful extract and herb, you can check it out here.
Skinning almonds are the most challenging part of this extract-making process. If you choose not to peel, you will end up with a tan coloration to your extract. It will not harm the taste. However, I like to use almond extract in my frostings, so having it as straightforward as possible is essential.
They are very easy to skin. It takes a little prep. Please do not use the hot water blanch method. You need these almonds raw. See this video for a quick demo. Soak in cool water overnight. Skin pushes right off.
You will need to let this extract brew for 6 to 8 weeks minimum. I like to leave my almond extract for 12 weeks before straining. That extra brew time enhances that flavor and scent.
No need for a cheesecloth for almond extract. Place your fine strainer over a glass measuring cup. Pour bottle and all its contents through the filter into the cup. Dispose of almonds and pour contents back into your rinsed extract jar.
I most often go to peppermint. This is the most common mint used in my household for baking, teas, and more. This versatile part of the mint family has a great flavor that is easily recognizable by mint lovers. You can also choose spearmint, chocolate mint, apple mint, and more.
This extract is a bit quicker than others because it is a fresh green leaf. You should be able to use it within 5-6 weeks.
After the brew time, you will need to strain this extract or anytime you're using leaf matter. You are placing your cheesecloth in your filter and over a glass measuring cup. Pour the bottle of extract and all the mint leaves over the filter. When all the liquid has run through, gather the cheesecloth like a pouch and squeeze the remaining section over the filter.
Rinse the bottle and pour the extract back in.
After straining the extract the first time, you do not have to finish there-many people like a powerful punch to their mint flavor. Punch up the flavor and make a double-strength mint.
Before pouring the strained mint extract back into the bottle, add another 1/2 cup of fresh mint leaves to the bottle. Re-add the extract and let it sit for another 4 - 6 weeks.
Bam! Mint Explosion!
Fruit zest extracts are all very similar in creation. They are straightforward to do and exploding with flavor. A delicious tidbit is that you are not using the meat of the fruit to create.
You get to have your extract and eat your fruit too! Although I am not sure how many of us sit down and enjoy eating a whole lemon! I do like making lemonade, though!
I choose organic fruits when making extracts. You want to be sure they are not coming from a place that has sprayed and treated the skin with chemicals. Since this is the part you are using, please exercise caution in your selection.
To Make 4 ounces of Either Fruit Extract.
Your lemon and orange extracts take 6 to 8 weeks to brew into the delicious tasty flavor fully. Up to 12 weeks will make them even stronger!
This is going to be choice and timing. You will have to ask yourself how quickly you will go through these extracts. I use lemon and orange extract quickly. I do not just use them for baking. A few drops in tea, smoothies, sauces, dressings, and more, and they go fast.
Fruit peels will break down and go cloudy after some time. If you did not go through it in a year, I would strain.
Straining is easy. No cheesecloth is needed. Using the filter over a glass measuring cup, pour the contents of the bottle. Discard peels and return extract to bottle.
The recipes are given here all use 80 proof alcohol. This is the best way to extract the plants' constituents, herbs, and fruits used here. The insignificant amounts of alcohol that would use in a typical recipe or usage are very minimal.
Also, alcohol in any cooked goods, hot beverages, etc., is cooked off in the heat before consumption. However, I do understand that this is an issue for some individuals and respect that choice.
Vegetable glycerin takes the place of alcohol in many extracts. It needs always to have 1 part of distilled water added due to its thick nature. You can substitute the vodka with 3 ounces of glycerin and 1 ounce of distilled water for the recipes here.
Your extracts will last only 1-year, so make sure your labels have an expiration date as well as a brewed date.
I have created a series of articles that detail making extracts and tinctures. In those, a detailed supply list is included that explains how and why each supply is used. If you would like more information, check out these great articles.
Now that you learned how to make homemade extracts let's talk about some great ideas to use them besides baked goods! I mentioned above using lemon and orange extract in teas; that is just a start!
There are many more too; this is just a taste…
Are there other ways you use extracts? Would I love to hear from you? Could you drop a comment below and let me know?
About Christina Lopez
Christina Lopez grew up in the scenic city of Mountain View, California. For eighteen ascetic years, she refrained from eating meat until she discovered the exquisite delicacy of chicken thighs. Christina is a city finalist competitive pingpong player, an ocean diver, and an ex-pat in England and Japan. Currently, she is a computer science doctoral student. Christina writes late at night; most of her daytime is spent enchanting her magical herb garden.