Make Your Own: Flavor Extracts
If you’re like me, you’re already planning and salivating over what baked goods you can transform into gluten-free confections for the winter holidays. Too soon? Nahhhh.
I love vanilla extract. The real stuff. I add it to everything sweet; it just makes for a fuller flavor in my opinion. But buying tiny organic bottles of the stuff gets costly very quickly. I’ve always known it was easy to make it myself, but just never done it. Once I did though, it occurred to me that I could do this for every flavor extract!
The benefit of making these for yourself is, like anything, that YOU get to control the ingredients. Goose and I had fun making vanilla extract a month or so ago, and it’s interesting to watch it go through the stages as it strengthens and changes color too.
One of these or a combination:
Vodka, rum, glycerin, or apple cider vinegar
vanilla beans (we used 5)
Jars (we used a quart jar)
Make sure your jar is clean and sterile. Split the vanilla beans lengthwise and put into the jar. Fill with your liquid, tighten lid and shake, shake, shake. Store in a dark place and shake every week or so, as you think about it. After about 3 months (I know- forever! But still in time for the holidays!!) it will be done.
*It needs a dark location so the sunlight doesn’t degrade the flavor, and an air-tight seal to prevent evaporation.
(Vanilla beans can be found in the spice section of your grocery store or ordered online. They are expensive, but you will get a lot of flavoring out of them and in the end it will be cheaper than buying the extract.)
I also made mint extract just today. I finally got around to weeding the second garden bed and tying up the cucumber vine that is taking over everything and realized I had forgotten there was mint even under there! It was shooting out runners and taking over its own little territory under the cucumber, so I cut off a HUGE bouquet of it and brought it inside. I cleaned up up, pulled off any leaves that had been munched upon by critters and stuffed a bunch down into a quart jar. I didn’t have much vodka (used it all up with the vanilla), so I poured in what I did have and added apple cider vinegar to cover the mint. I tamped it down with the handle of a wooden spoon to bruise the leaves and thereby crush some of the oils out of them. It is sitting beside of my vanilla extract now and will get shaken and tamped down when I think about it.
Here are some other examples of extracts you could make yourself:
-nut (almond, hazelnut, etc)
-chocolate (how about using raw cacao nibs?)
-pineapple (not sure about this one- I am thinking of experimenting with dehydrated pineapple and putting it in the fridge while it steeps)
-savory herbs like oregano or marjoram for use in crackers, breads, spaghetti sauce, etc.
-coffee (you can also use super duper strongly brewed coffee for this one too)
-sassafras would give a root-beer like flavor
-garlic (though this one is probably best steeped in oil)
-citrus (tangerine, orange, grapefruit, lemon, etc)
Speaking of holidays (yes, I’m aware it’s not even September yet…), these would make excellent gifts. I would recommend putting them in dark bottles or covering the bottles with fabric so that they are better protected from light degradation and so the recipient can display them in their kitchens if they wish.
Happy flavor extracting!