I've been making my own vanilla extract for years. I love it! It's cost-effective, sort of pretty (although it kind of looks like spiders too), and in my opinion, tastes way better than imitation vanilla extract. Vanilla extract is also (easily) the most used extract in my kitchen, so having a big batch on hand is no problem for me.
I recently decided to try my hand at making a few different kinds of homemade extracts. The process felt very much like a little science experiment. Some of the recipes I found online worked great, some were less than stellar. I'm gonna share my favorites with you.(Clockwise from top: almond extract, orange extract and lemon extract.)
I tested out four different flavors: almond, lemon, orange, and mint. Since I was testing, I didn't want to make large batches (in case they didn't work out). For each extract I started with 1/2 cup vodka. For the orange extract, I added the rinds from 1 1/2 oranges. For the lemon extract, I added the rinds of two lemons. For the almond extract, I added 1/4 cup raw almond slivers (no skins). And for the mint extract, I added a small handful of mint leaves.
I placed the ingredients in a clean jar, sealed it up, and waited for two weeks.I loved the citrus extracts! They smelled amazing and tasted good. Extracts are not meant to be tasted straight; they are meant to be baked or mixed into larger recipes. When you bake extracts, the alcohol evaporates (or mostly evaporates), leaving behind only the desired flavor.
The almond extract was too mild. I would suggest allowing it to soak for at least a month before use. I found that it seemed a bit more bitter than store-bought almond extract. I had read that using raw almonds and avoiding the skins would help to keep the extract from becoming too bitter. But I think I'll probably stick to the store-bought kind in the future.
The mint extract simply didn't work. It looked pretty seaweed-y and it tasted like black licorice. I think you just can't allow fresh herbs to soak that long. Fresh, leafy herbs (like mint or basil) work well in infused vodka, which has a much shorter soak time. I wonder if using dried herbs would work better. Maybe using some dried lavender could work well. Have any of you tried that?Be sure to strain your homemade extracts through a fine mesh sieve before storing. The only one I don't do this with is vanilla extract. I figure if a few vanilla beans (not the actual pod) make it in that's totally fine. But you'll want to strain the other ones.
So those were my findings. What about you? Have any of you made homemade extracts before? Any great successes you'd like to share? Any warnings against failures you experienced? xo. Emma
Credits // Author and Photography: Emma Chapman. Photos edited using Color Pop from the Signature Collection.