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Did you know that you can make your own extracts cheaply? It's so easy and they are so expensive! All you need to do is buy a bottle of plain, unflavored vodka (the cheapest is fine) and use your own leaves, peels or spices, or buy spices at your grocer or health food store!
I used opaque salt and pepper shakers that I had never used and also saved my bottles from previous extract purchases (before I started making my own). If you want to use your own, that's fine. Just make sure they are not see through. Glass is my preference, even though extracts are sold in plastic commonly too.
Just cut up your leaves: spearmint, peppermint, vanilla beans, lemon or orange peel and place in your bottle. That releases their oil and essence! Fill up the rest of the container with the vodka, shake it every few days and wait. I keep mine on my kitchen window since it doesn't get direct sun to remind me to shake them regularly.
The longer you wait, the more intense the extract! It does take a few months (2-3) to extract the strongest flavor so if you'd like to give a wonderful holiday gift to someone, you can get started now to have it ready by December! If you give it as a gift, I would strain the leaves or peels out of the extract before giving them to someone.
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Because extracts are expensive to buy I am making my own. At the moment I am doing vanilla extract and lemon extract. The lemon one smells lovely, but the vanilla one still smells of Vodka. It's only been 1 week since I have stored these and I know you have to leave them for about 6 weeks in a cool dark place. Will these extracts turn to a syrup? I don't know, it's the first time I have followed instructions with this. Many thanks.
By Helen from UK
You won't get a syrup unless you put sugar in them. That's what makes the syrup. This is an experiment and if it says 6 weeks, just wait and see, and if you don't like it, try something a bit different next time.
Mine took every bit of 6 weeks to make a good vanilla. I used a pint of vodka and 2 or 3 beans. Make sure you slit the beans so the juice gets in and that seems to work better. I love the homemade vanilla. The only thing it doesn't work real well for is homemade ice cream. It doesn't freeze very well but makes a great shake.
I made the vanilla extract last winter as Christmas gifts - my sisters love it. The homemade vanilla extract is so much better than the store bought one. My husband used it for homemade ice cream and it froze without any problems.
My entire family makes our own vanilla extract to, we all pitch in and order our beans from a company in California. But we don't use vodka we use a very good brand of Bourbon. It comes out fantastic, but we let ours set for around 6- 8 weeks. We also use the whole bean for flavoring as well, just cut the bean lengthwise and scrap the beans out, there is nooo taste like it in homemade ice cream and cake mixes!!! Have fun with it, you will be so glad you did!!!
Hi. Many thanks for the replies about making extracts, they have been very helpful. I still have another 5 weeks yet to see if the vodka smell goes away. Helen
I cannot find your instructions for the making of this extract, could someone please direct me?
I, too, am from UK. There seems to be quite a few of us enjoying this great site. Lesley
bjschrim51 (5), what do you mean by "scrape the beans out?"
PIKKA (454), Sugar? I'd like to have the info on this recipe. I didn't know you could make a syrup.
I too make a lot of vanilla. bjschrim51: I live in California and am curious which company you get your beans from. I make my vanilla with vodka but am willing to experiment with bourbon. Which brand did you have such good results with? I love this site! Thanks