Homemade Extracts Are Special to Have on Hand and Give as Gifts

I recently made my first batch of homemade vanilla extract.
I say made, but actually, it’s still in the works – taking 60 days for the vanilla beans to steep in the vodka!
But, it’s worth it, to have a jar on hand for holiday baking, and a couple extra jars to give as gifts.
There are so many great flavors of extract to play around with – vanilla, orange, lemon, lime, cinnamon – to name a handful.
Some people like to use brandy, and some vodka, but you need to choose your booze.
Then, it’s a simple process – you’re infusing the booze – or better said, [extract]ing the flavor from the product you put into it.
It goes without saying both the liquor and product should be the highest quality you can get.
For my vanilla extract, I found a seller of Madagascar vanilla beans on Amazon – I got 16 beans for just $16. – which is an incredible price.
I used one bean for each 1/2 pint jar, scraping the seeds out and adding them in, then putting the whole bean in.
Because I had so many, I also made vanilla sugar, with still plenty of beans leftover.
I stored them in an airtight glass bottle, and they’ll keep that way indefinitely.
For the citrus extracts, peel your citrus, assuring you don’t have any pith [the white part; bitter].
Depending on the size of jar you’re filling, place 2-6 long pieces of peel submerged fully in the alcohol.
Seal, and place in a cool, dark spot in your kitchen/pantry.
Some say it takes anywhere from 2 to 8 weeks for an extract to be ready, so this is your call.
You can take from the jar for recipes, I’d say anywhere past the 2 week point [obviously, the longer it infuses, the better and more intense the flavor], and you can just top it off with more liquor, then cover.
For cinnamon extract, I suggest also 2-6 sticks depending on size of jar.
One 750mL bottle of vodka yielded 3 half-pint jars, plus a bit leftover for a Bloody Mary.
These make such wonderful gifts for the cooks and bakers in your life – something practical, while special, they can use throughout the year.
With so many fun jars and labels available, you can really create a beautiful presentation too.
In this day and age of such technological dominance in our lives, nothing can replace the warmth of the homemade.

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