Making homemade extracts is pretty easy to do, but we’ve figured out a shortcut—essential oils—to make some extracts even easier. Normally, extracts are achieved by steeping vanilla beans, citrus peels, fresh herbs (such as peppermint leaves), dried herbs/spices (including cinnamon sticks), or coconut meat in alcohol for several months. As it steeps, the alcohol takes on the flavor of the added substance and an extract is produced. The longer you let it sit, the stronger the flavor tends to be.
We used the alcohol extract method to create this Homemade Vanilla Extract. Since then, we’ve learned that there are alternate solvents, such as vegetable glycerin, that can be used instead of alcohol. By using vegetable glycerin, we can create an extract that is alcohol-free and has a more pleasant taste. However, it is important to keep in mind that these extracts may only last about 14–24 months (whereas alcohol extracts can last 4–6 years).
Vegetable glycerin extracts usually use a glycerin/water combination and need to have at least 70% glycerin with 30% (or less) distilled water (if you are making extracts from fresh herbs, you’ll need to account for the water in the plant). The common ratio for herb to glycerin/water is 1:8.
To make most extracts, it is important to let the substance steep in the glycerin for a minimum of 4–6 weeks (preferably 10–12 weeks or more for a stronger flavor). However, we’ve found that if you use essential oils for some extracts, you can use the extract within days of steeping.
Servings: Yield 2 oz. | Time: 5 minutes active; 24 hours inactive | Difficulty: Easy
You can also use glycerin to make other extracts such as vanilla, almond, and coconut extracts.
Servings: Yield 4 oz. | Time: 2 minutes active; 4–12 weeks inactive | Difficulty: Easy
Don’t forget about gift giving during this holiday season! These little bottles of extract make a perfect neighbor gift!
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Spanish sage, also known as sage lavender (Salvia lavandulifolia), is steam distilled from the leaves and stems of the plant. It belongs to the Lamiaceae botanical family. The aroma is herbaceous and camphorous (with camphor as a primary chemical constituent), with a subtle lavender undertone.
Guaiacwood (Bulnesia sarmientoi)—pronounced GWHY-ack-wood—is steam distilled from the heartwood of the plant. It belongs to the Zygophyllaceae botanical family and is native to parts of South America. The aroma is woodsy with a subtle smoky-sweetness reminiscent of sandalwood. Its properties are...
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