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Making homemade mint extract was one of the very first extract recipes I ever attempted… and I've never went back. Have you seen the price of extract in the store? It can be rather spendy for the real stuff, but the imitation extracts often have caramel coloring and other not so lovely ingredients. What's a pioneering today person to do?
Make your own mint extract… or vanilla, stevia, lemon, almond, orange, chocolate mint-okay, you get the picture. If it can be bought in the store, it can be made at home, usually much more frugally and healthier. It also makes a pretty amazing gift and speaking of gifts, you did know Christmas was right around the corner, right?
Vanilla beans can run pricey, especially at the regular grocery store. Costco carries vanilla beans during the holidays, so check there. If they don't have any, I ordered these vanilla beans from Amazon, they were half the price compared to our local stores.
Note on alcohol: Most vodka's are made from grains and in the United States almost all corn is GMO unless certified GMO Free or Organic. To avoid grains, I prefer to use rum which is derived from molasses and sugar cane by products, neither of which are GMO crops. This is especially important for those with grain sensitivities or allergies.
Pick your mint leaves in the morning when they have the highest concentrate of oils in the leaves. Rinse and pat dry. Beings the Pacific Northwest is rarely dry this time of year, I just patted mine dry. I figured the rain did a fine enough job of washing them. Go through and discard any burnt or damaged looking leaves.
Strip the leaves from the stem. Roll the leaves up between your fingers so they're good and bruised. Or you can roughly chop them.
Put leaves inside of your glass jar. Fill jar with vodka so the mint leaves are submerged in the alcohol. Place lid on jar and give it a good shake.
Place jar in a cupboard or out of direct light, but somewhere you'll remember to shake it every few days. Let mint leaves steep for at least 6 weeks (still in time for Christmas giving and baking). You can allow it to steep longer for a stronger flavored extract.
When mint extract has reached its desired strength, strain liquid through a sieve into a glass container. I purchased these pretty and vintage looking glass swing top bottles *affiliate link to house my extract in and give away as a gift. I adore these chalkboard labels *affiliate link and may have labeled every glass container in my house with them… may have.
Store extract in a cool dark place.
You can use 3 parts glycerin to 1 part distilled water in place of the alcohol. Make sure you use a food grade glycerin like this one.
Because there are tons of different mint varieties out there, the flavor of your mint extract will vary based on which variety of mint you use. I personally grow chocolate mint, peppermint, and spearmint. A girl can't have too many mint plants!
Vanilla Beans (5 beans per 8 ounces of alcohol is recommended)–> This is where I get mine
Glass Jar with a lid
With a sharp knife, slit the bean lengthwise, then roughly chop into pieces. Place chopped beans into a glass jar and fill with alcohol, I prefer rum for my vanilla extract but you can use vodka as well. Put a lid on it and shake well. Store in a dark cupboard away from heat and shake every few days.
Allow extract to seep for 8 weeks or longer for best flavor. When it's reached the desired strength, strain out the vanilla extract and store in a glass bottle.
Many vanilla extracts in the store have added ingredients such as water, sugar, and corn syrup.
My homemade vanilla cost $.86 an ounce to make at home, without being diluted with other ingredients.
If you don't have enough time to seep the extract before giving it as a gift, create a DIY homemade extract kit by giving one of these flip top jars with the filled Mason jar of seeping extract and instructions on when to strain it.
This way you're actually teaching the person how to make their own by just doing the first part for them. Now they'll have the jars to make it again and only have to purchase the ingredients when they run out!
What homemade goodies are you making this year? Do you make any other flavors of extract?
Melissa K. Norris inspires people's faith and pioneer roots with her books, podcast, and blog. Melissa lives with her husband and two children in their own little house in the big woods in the foothills of the North Cascade Mountains. When she's not wrangling chickens and cattle, you can find her stuffing Mason jars with homegrown food and playing with flour and sugar in the kitchen.