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Homemade Extracts

on December 9, 2012

Ingredient of choice for extract (vanilla beans, lemons, oranges,limes, fresh mint, raspberry,etc…..)
Vodka (inexpensive, plain vodka)

If you are using vanilla beans, split 3 or 4 beans in half down the center and place in a jar. For lemons, limes or oranges, zest the outer rind of 2 fruit. For mint, coarsely chop 1/4 cup of mint leaves. For fruit (raspberry, strawberry, etc…) crush 1/4 C. of ripe fruit.

Place your prepared ingredient in a pint jar and add 1 cup of vodka. Cap tightly and shake.
Let jars sit for 3-6 weeks, shaking occasionally. The extracts will darken (especially the vanilla) and will have a nice scent of their main ingredient. If you used fresh fruit, strain your extract. You can leave the vanilla beans and citrus rinds in the jar. As you use up your extract, you can add more vodka to replenish. I have had the same jar of vanilla beans for 2 years now and they are just getting to the point of needing to be replaced. You could also occasionally add more citrus rind or mint leaves to your jar to increase the flavor. Fruit extracts should always be made in smaller batches and not replenished, the flavor tends to break down over time.

Use your homemade extracts just like you would store bought extracts. Add a splash to cake batter or cookies for a yummy twist. I especially like chocolate cake with mint extract or sugar cookies with lemon extract.
There is alcohol in these extracts, so if this is of concern for you be sure to only use the extracts in cooked items (the alcohol will cook off).

*Extracts make great gifts! I once made vanilla extract for all my friends for Christmas and gave it to them with my favorite cookie recipe. How about a basket of different extracts for a friend who loves to cook or a couple just getting started on their new life together?

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