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Last Updated on December 2, 2022 by Diane Hoffmaster
Learn how to make homemade extracts and you will be able to add an amazing amount of flavor to your kitchen creations! Making your own extracts is easy to do, although you will have to be patient.
Vanilla extract, mint extract, or citrus extracts are a great way to add natural flavorings to your homemade baked goods. These DIY extracts are also a great homemade gift for anyone who loves to bake.
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How are extracts made?
So, what is an extract exactly? As opposed to a flavoring? Homemade extracts use a solvent (the liquid itself) to 'extract' the flavor from something else (your flavoring choice). Often, this is done with alcohol as the solvent, however, there are other options as well.
The flavor you choose could be citrus rinds, mint leaves, vanilla beans, or chopped almonds. Whatever flavor you use a lot of or want to give as gifts.
What are natural extracts as opposed to artificial flavors? Have you ever read the bottle of the stuff you buy at the store?
Natural extracts use real food ingredients rather than creating artificial flavors in a laboratory. Better for YOU and tastier in your food!
What are the different types of extracts?
If you enjoy baking from scratch, you have probably encountered recipes that call for flavor extracts. Vanilla extract is obviously the most commonly used extract, however, you can add a boost of flavor to just about any recipe with extracts of fruit, herbs, nuts, and other ingredients.
Some of the more exotic extracts I have encountered are chocolate, banana, and anise. But, the sky is the limit when it comes to making homemade extracts!
Learning how to make homemade extracts is incredibly easy. Why should you consider making your own rather than buying them from the store? By steeping your own flavorings in alcohol, you can control how strong the flavor becomes in the final extract.
You also get to control the quality of the ingredients used in your homemade extract.
How long do flavoring extracts last?
Natural extracts, especially those made at home, are going to have a shorter shelf life than artificial ones. In general, extracts tend to have a shelf life of 6 months to 1 year.
However, pure vanilla extract can last indefinitely and even improve with age as long as you store it in a cool, dark, place. Do flavor extracts go bad? Yes, eventually they will. But, by 'go bad' they will really just start losing their flavor.
If you notice the flavors are getting dull, make a new batch. In general, storing spices and extracts properly will extend their shelf life.
Love this post about making homemade extracts? Try these DIY pantry items as well!
- Easy Homemade Baking Mix Recipe for Pancakes and Biscuits
- How to Make Homemade Italian Seasoning
- Lemon Thyme Infused Sea Salt is Perfect for Your Seafood Recipe
How to Make Homemade Extracts
Commercially created extracts are rarely made from organic or fresh from the garden ingredients. By making homemade extracts, your flavors will be brighter and fresher than the ones you buy premade.
The biggest perk, however, to knowing how to make homemade extracts is the creativity it allows. Commercial extracts are severely limited in variety. Your own homemade extracts, however, are limited only by your own creativity! If you want to start making your own extracts, here are a few tips to get you started.
Ratio is Key to Strong Homemade Extracts!
You need to use a lot of flavoring for very little liquid. The goal is to end up with a very concentrated flavor. Stuff the jar full of flavoring components and then fill it with your liquid.
Choose the best jars for storage
Use a small glass jar like a clean spice jar for steeping your flavorings. You can also buy empty spice jars. Add as much of the flavoring as possible into the jar and add only enough liquid to barely cover the other ingredients. For larger volumes, you can use small mason jars as well.
Making Extracts Takes Time... Be Patient!
You will need to steep your homemade flavor extracts for a fairly long time. Generally, things like citrus peels, nuts, vanilla beans, and other 'firm' ingredients will need 3 to 4 weeks.
If you choose to use fresh herbs, they will only steep for 2 to 3 days. The leaves will wilt quickly and stop developing any additional flavor. Remove citrus peels with a citrus zester to get the colorful part of the rind alone and not the bitter pith underneath.
Choose the best liquid
Vodka is the spirit of choice for making homemade extracts. It has almost no flavor by itself and it is strong enough to extract the flavor from the other ingredients. It also acts as a preservative so that your resulting extract will stay good at room temperature for quite a long time.
Other alcohols will work but your final product will have the flavor of the alcohol in addition to your desired flavor. You can also make flavored vodka which is great in your mixed drinks!
Store Homemade Extracts Properly
Extracts should steep in a cool, dry place. Do not place your extract on the windowsill, near the stove, or anyplace that is particularly humid.
Once your desired flavor has been achieved, strain out the flavor additions, place your extract in a clean, glass container and store it in a cool, dry, place. Use as needed in your favorite recipes.
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Diane is a professional blogger and nationally certified pharmacy technician at Good Pill Pharmacy. She has two college aged kids, one husband and more pets than she will admit to. She earned her BS in Microbiology at the University of New Hampshire but left her career in science to become a stay at home mom. Years of playing with LEGO and coloring with crayons had her craving a more grown up purpose to her life and she began blogging and freelance writing full time. You can learn more about her HERE.