How to Make Homemade Extracts (Any Flavor!)

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Have you ever wondered how extracts are made? Have you ever wondered why they are so expensive? That’s probably because not many people know how easy it is to make them. Some extracts you buy at the store contain artificial flavors, colors, and even corn syrup! These easy homemade extracts use only vodka and natural flavors like lemon zest, almonds, and vanilla bean. Because the ingredients are real and fresh, you can bet these extracts are healthier too. Don’t be afraid to try making these yourself – when you use them in your own cooking, you’ll be glad you did and will be proud!

Vodka is the best way to make these extracts, which has an alcohol content of about 40%. If you’re concerned about the taste, don’t worry. Once the extract is made, you cannot taste the vodka. If you’re worried about alcohol, it burns off when baking or cooking, and it’s used in such small amounts that it’s completely negligible. There is a way to use vegetable glycerin instead of alcohol. Instead of vodka, you’ll need to use one part water and three parts vegetable glycerin. If vodka isn’t your thing, you can also use bourbon, which will have a slightly more pronounced, full-bodied flavor.

What is the difference between pure extract and imitation extract?

Imitation extracts use imitation flavorings and an alcohol base. Pure Extracts use real ingredients, not imitation flavors, so they’re healthier and tastier! When you make these extracts, you’ll be using real almonds, lemon zest, and more.

What kind of bottle should I use to make homemade extracts?

You can find extract-sized bottles at most culinary stores and online. Amber bottles are best because they block light from affecting the extract. Clear bottles are still a good option, allowing you to watch the color of the liquid change over time. The color indicates the flavor that is developing. You can find the clear 8 oz bottle here and the amber 8 oz bottle here. Screw caps are recommended when making extracts.

How long does it take to make the extract?

It only takes a few minutes to combine the ingredients of these extracts. The process of “extracting” the flavor from the ingredients takes about 5 weeks.

Should I filter the stock from the extract?

The ingredients used to extract the flavor need to remain in the vodka for at least 6 weeks in order to fully extract the flavor. After the flavor extraction process is complete, you can choose to filter the extract to remove the original flavor components. The best way to do this is to place a fine mesh strainer over the funnel and pour the extract from the original jar into a clean new jar for long term storage or gift giving.

Ingredient ratios for common extract flavors:

  • Vanilla extract: 4 to 6 whole vanilla pods (3 to 4 inches) + 8 oz vodka
  • Almond Extract: 1/2 cup unsalted raw sliced ​​almonds + 8 oz vodka
  • Lemon Extract: Zest of 2 lemons, peeled into sticks + 8 oz vodka
  • Orange Extract: 1 large orange zest, peeled into sticks + 8 oz vodka
  • Peppermint Extract: 1 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves + 8 oz vodka
  • Coconut Extract: 1/2 cup shredded fresh coconut meat + 8 oz vodka
  • Cinnamon Extract: 4 sticks whole cinnamon + 8 oz vodka

Pro tip:

The vanilla bean can be reused many times to make vanilla extract. After the initial 6 week extraction period, you can filter the extract and start the process all over again, using each pod 3 to 4 times.