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Make Your Own Extracts

Do you have a couple last minute Christmas gifts to give out and don’t have a lot to spend?  With just a little spice (or peel) and a bit of vodka, you can make your extracts.  Not only do you save money but you know exactly what is going into your extracts.  Be sure to include instructions for how long the extract needs to set before using.  You don’t want to disappoint your gift recipient with a flavorless extract!
With husband deployed and having 4 kids, I had to find a babysitter so I could go to the liquor store and get my 1.75 liters of vodka.  That was the hardest part of this recipe for me.  The rest is easy peasy lemon squeezy as my 11 yo says.  
The most fun part was shopping for the bottles for the extract to go in.  Since I’m planning on making quite a few of these, I opted for square bottles that fit neatly together.  You can find all sorts of fun bottles at your local craft store like Hobby Lobby or Michael’s.  I purchased mine online at http://www.specialtybottle.com. They also have Grolsch swing top bottles, eeee!  
Today I’m going to share with you Lemon, Orange, Vanilla, Star Anise and Imitation Maple Extract.  For the best quality extract, use the best quality spices or fruit.  You can order high quality organic spices online at Mountain Rose Herbs. Have fun!

Left to Right: Lemon, Orange, Vanilla, Almond Extract (almond is a trial so the recipe is not posted yet).

Vanilla Extract

  • 2 vanilla beans
  • 2 cups vodka
When selecting vanilla beans, make sure they are moist and stored cool. Slice beans from the bottom to about 1/4″ from the top.  Place inside bottle and cover with vodka.  Store in a cool dark place for about 2 months before using. Give it a good shake every so often. As you use the vanilla, you can top it off with more vodka and your beans will continue to give you extract for years.


Star Anise Extract
  • Star Anise, whole (enough to fill whatever jar you are using)
  • vodka
Fill jar with star anise and cover with vodka.  Store in a cool dark place for several months, giving it a good shake every so often.  The longer it sets, the stronger the flavor.  You can strain the vodka from the anise or leave it in the jar.
Imitation Maple Extract
  • 1/3 cup fenugreek seeds
  • 3/4 cup vodka
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract or 1/4 piece of vanilla bean
Didn’t know you could make your own imitation maple extract did you?  I like to use this in granola and cereal recipes.  Warm fenugreek seeds in an unoiled skillet (just warm, don’t toast).  Place in a coffee grinder and grind up just to break up seeds.  Don’t make it too fine.  Place in jar with vanilla bean and top with 3/4 cup vodka. Store in a cool dark place, shaking occasionally.  Let set for about 1-2 months, you can taste for desired strength.  Strain and store.
Orange Extract
  • Zest of 1 organic orange
  • 1 cup vodka
It is important to choose organic oranges since it is the skin that you are using.  Place zest in jar and top with vodka.  Let set for about 2 months in a cool dark place.  Give it a good shake occasionally.  You can strain the zest or leave. I think it’s pretty with the zest in it.  *Mandarin oranges make an excellent extract as well.
Lemon Extract
  • Zest of 1organic lemon
  • 1 cup vodka
It is important to choose organic lemons since it is the skin that you are using.  Place zest in jar and top with vodka.  Let set for about 2 months in a cool dark place.  Give it a good shake occasionally.  You can strain the zest or leave. I think it’s pretty with the zest in it.


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8 comments to Make Your Own Extracts

  • Desiree Gray

    Hi there, I followed your maple extract recipe and am anxiously waiting for time to pass so I can bottle my own extract! I have noticed however, that the seeds have swollen up and absorbed all of the liquor, is that correct? Is the yield supposed to be a few teaspoons only? I’ve never tried this before so this is all new to me. Thanks for all your interesting articles!

  • Excited to try making our own maple extract! I’ve done vanilla extract. Thanks for the recipes!

  • Natalia

    Great post! I really want to make some extracts in more unusual flavors. Any advice on purportions for making one from tea (Green/white/black)? I loved this green tea lemon cookie i had once but being gluten free adding liquids to recipes can really mess things up so i figured a bit of extract would be the way to go :).

    Cant you just imagine some lavender earl grey scones?

  • Denise

    Will fennel powder work as opposed to the seeds? I have the powder & thought I’d find out about that.

  • Chris

    Excellent info – superb post!
    Nice recipes!

    Thanks much for sharing….

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