Vanilla and mint extracts are great to have on hand for baking and cooking, especially with the holidays coming up. And what might be especially good news to gardeners with lots of mint to spare, you can actually make your own extracts very easily at home!
For mint extract, either peppermint or spearmint, all it takes is lots of mint to harvest and some high-quality vodka. Vanilla, on the other hand, is probably not something you have growing in abundance in your backyard, and you might have to look for good-quality vanilla bean at your health food store or even online. But a little bit goes a long way, as you only need a few beans to make the extract and it will last for many recipes.
Speaking of the holidays, these homemade extracts also make really great gifts! They unique and special, and also very affordable to make. They’d make great stocking stuffers or additions to gift baskets for relatives far away.
What you need:
1 Cup mint, washed and thoroughly dried
12 oz. vodka
3-4 vanilla beans, split completely open
8 oz. vodka
Jars, preferably dark
Bottles, preferably dark. (You can use old vanilla or mint extract bottles)
What you do:
- For the mint extract, stuff the mint in your container and cover with vodka. Lightly crush the leaves to release the flavor of the mint into the vodka. Seal the container.
- For the vanilla, simply put the beans into your container with the vodka and seal.
- Leave your extract in a cool, dark place for about 4 weeks. Shake occasionally.
- When your extracts are ready to use, strain out the vanilla or mint and pour them into your bottles, if desired. Keep in your pantry or on your shelf and use as you would store-bought extracts!