DIY: How to Make Your Own Extracts

Brooke Newberry
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We lose them, pay too much for them, and often accidentally buy the imitation kind: the additive-enhanced liquid that leaves that weird aftertaste.  Good quality extracts can be really expensive (a small bottle can cost more than $10) so let’s get domesticated and make our own.  With lots of booze. 

Homemade extracts immensely improve the quality of baked goods and will deliver a purity, ripeness, and depth that can’t be replicated by the store bought biddies.  And they’re really easy to make. Extracts are basically concentrates that intensify a particular flavor in a recipe without having to add too much of the actual ingredient – for measurement and texture purposes.  These liquids are also commonly used as replacement flavors. If the lemons were forgotten at the market and zest is needed for scones – charge the cupboard and cue the lemon extract.   Next time you will have the real thing, from actual physical lemons, in liquid form.

 

The Basics

You just need 3 components to make an extract: glass jars or bottles, hard alcohol, and your chosen ingredient. 

Pick a Vessel: Use 16 oz glass jars or bottles for infusing primary extract recipes.  Buy smaller glass containers to fill for friends and give away as gifts. 

Pick a booze: Vodka works for any extract because it imparts no flavor. See the recipes below for alcohol variations depending on the chosen flavor pick.  The method is simple as well: clean your glass bottles, cover ingredient with booze, and wait.  Thanks to the powerful preserving qualities of alcohol, the extracts keep indefinitely.

Pick a flavor: Vanilla, almond, lemon, and mint extracts are broken down below.  Choose whatever flavor you work with the most for your extract, or inebriate all your favorite flavors – a bottle of booze goes a long way (unless you’re drinking while extracting).  Explore flavors like cinnamon, coffee, coconut, and other citruses like orange or grapefruit – these can all me made into extracts.

 

Tips

  • Clean the bottles or jars well before use.
  • Use good alcohol – you don’t have to buy Grey Goose, but definitely don’t use Aristocrat.
  • If you don’t have a sieve, use a coffee filter.

Vanilla Extract:

First, locate good beans.  We recommend Bourbon-Madagascar Vanilla Beans.  Vodka is the standard booze suggestion for extract recipes because it’s flavorless and just acts as a canvas for bean’s natural flavors.  If you want the extract to turn out more nutty and musky, try a darker liquor like brandy or bourbon.

Yes, vanilla extract is queen of boosting baked goods – but try using your homemade extract in hot cocoa, shakes, coffee drinks, eggnogs, and smoothies.

Recipe

  • 3 vanilla beans, split lengthwise
  • 3/4 cup vodka, brandy, or bourbon

Place whole vanilla beans in the jar and cover completely with vodka.

Seal and place in a cool, dark place in your kitchen.

Give it a shake every day or so for the first week. 

Leave it be for one month.

Note:  You can use the actual vanilla beans left in the extract for recipes as well. They will be moist and you extract the seeds really easily.

Almond Extract:

Almond extract’s warm nutty flavor is brilliant for touching up pastries and baked goods. Try a touch of your DIY in oatmeal, saffron rice dishes, French toast batter, baked fruits, coffee drinks, and, of course, desserts (pound cake, breakfast pastries, and biscotti)

Recipe

  • 12 whole, raw, skinless almonds
  • 1/2 cup vodka or white rum

Finely chop or crush almonds, and place in jar.   Cover completely with vodka or rum.

Seal and place in a cool, dark place in your kitchen

Shake the jar every few days or so for the first week.

Leave it be for one month.

Drain the extract through a fine sieve and discard the solids.

Lemon Extract:

A little lemon extract freshens up baked goods and pancake recipes like a charm.  Also, try a adding a spot in homemade whipped cream, cocktails, and yogurts.

Recipe

  • Peel of 3 lemons, all pitch removed
  • 1/2 cup vodka

Place lemon peel in jar.   Cover completely with vodka.

Seal and place in a cool, dark place in your kitchen.

Shake the jar every few days or so for the first week.

Leave it be for one month.

Strain the extract through a fine sieve and discard the solids.

Mint Extract:

Growing your own mint this year and have some leftover? Make a homegrown extract. Mint is a perfect offering for chocolate baked goods and desserts.  Try using your extract for minty white frostings, in teas, or add a drop to your hot chocolate.

Recipe

  • 1/2 cup vodka
  • 15 mint leaves, stalks removed

Chop, bruise, or muddle your mint leaves. Add to jar and cover completely with vodka.

Seal and place in a cool, dark place in your kitchen.

Shake the jar every few days or so for the first week.

Leave it be for one month.

Strain the extract through a fine sieve and discard the solids.

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