Homemade extracts

Once I started baking more often and exploring different flavor combinations, homemade extracts were something I knew I wanted to try. I am not a fan of the types of extracts from the store, as they are composed of ‘natural flavors’. Also, vanilla extract is expensive! So, I set out on the journey to make my own. Below is the flavors I’ve tried, and how they were made.

Flavors

Flavors choices are seemingly infinite. However, there are some that compliment food very well, and therefore get more use than others. I went with the basics, but there are lots of possibilities out there. These are the different flavors I’ve tried, and currently have in my cabinet:

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Coffee
  • Cinnamon
  • Lemon
  • Lime
  • Grapefruit
  • Orange
  • Cherry
  • Almond
  • Pistachio
  • Mint

How to make homemade extracts

Homemade extracts are created when something is left to infuse into an alcohol, then the solids are strained out. The ‘ingredients’ below indicates what gets infused to what type of alcohol, and the ‘length of time’ indicates how long they should be left for. Vodka is the default, and a low to medium quality is often recommended. I used 12-8 oz. amber jars for my extracts, and that is what the following ratios are based on. Below are the general categories of extracts that I’ve tried, and how they can be made. For more ideas and information, check out this post by The Stay At Home Chef.

Vanilla

Ingredients: Vanilla extracts use whole vanilla beans sliced down the middle. I used 4 vanilla beans per 8 oz. of alcohol. Alcohols that are popular are brandy, whiskey, and vodka, depending on what flavor you’re going for.

Length of time: The best vanillas actually keep the vanilla beans in them. This way, they can topped off after each use, creating a virtually endless supply of vanilla extract. Many people say it is best after one year, but can be used as soon as 6 weeks in.

Citrus (orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit)

Ingredients: Citrus extracts are made from the rind of the fruit. To make 8 oz. of a citrus extract, peels of 1-2 fruits are good, depending on the size.

Length of time: ~6 weeks

Fruit (cherry, strawberry, blueberry, blackberry, raspberry)

Ingredients: Crushed fresh fruits can be used, as well as frozen fruits. 1/4 c. per 8 oz. has worked well for me.

Length of time: ~6 weeks

Nut (almond, pistachio)

Ingredients: Infuse 1/4-1/2 c. crushed nuts into 8 oz. of alcohol.

Length of time: ~6 weeks

*Note: Although there are many nuts out there, I’ve listed only almonds and pistachios. I’m sure other nuts can be made into extracts, but I’m not sure if they would be pleasant or useful.

Herb (mint)

Ingredients: Mint leaves. I added 1 c. crushed leaves to 8 oz. of vodka.

Length of time: ~6 weeks

*Note: I didn’t like mint! It tasted weird. It wasn’t very minty, it was just…bleh. I wouldn’t recommend mint, but maybe other herbs would be nice.

Other (coffee, cinnamon, chocolate)

Ingredients: Coffee and chocolate are both made from the beans. 1/4-1/2 c. cacao nibs or coffee beans can be infused into 8 oz. of alcohol. Likewise, 4 cinnamon sticks is a good amount.

Length of time: ~6 weeks

Conclusion

11 out of 12 of my homemade extracts were a great success. Besides mint, these get used very frequently when I bake. The amount of variety and customization you can get from making extracts yourself is quite impressive. Not only that, but it is cost effective in the long run.

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