In my quest to be as frugal as possible, I seek out a homemade version of anything I use in abundance. As a foodie who adores cooking and baking, extracts are definitely items that I use in abundance. Have you seen the cost of extracts? Wowzer!
Making an extract is quite possibly the easiest frugal idea I’ve ever done. If you can peel and pour, you can make an extract. It seriously could not be any easier.
Currently, I have vanilla, orange, and lemon extracts “brewing”.
If you’d like to give homemade extracts as Christmas gifts this year, go ahead and start this process now. You’ll have wonderfully flavored extracts to both use in your Thanksgiving & Christmas baking AND to give away!
The lemon extract adds a delicious flavor to my Heavenly High Angel Food Cake!
To make a quality extract takes time and patience.
NOTE- If using canning jars to “brew” the extract, don’t use the metal ring and lid. They can corrode. Instead, use plastic caps on the canning jars.
For the citrus peels, try to get only the skin, where the oils are located. I normally peel the oranges or lemons, then juice the remaining fruit to either drink or use in a recipe. If I am not going to use the juice right away, I will either store it short-term in the frig or long-term in the freezer (simply freeze in ice cube trays, then store in Ziploc bags).
Place the beans or peels inside the jar, then fill the jar with vodka. Be sure that all of the vanilla bean or citrus peels are covered. Cover tightly. Store in a dark place. For the first month or so, gently shake the bottle each day. It should be ready to use within 3 months or so. As you use the extract, you can add more vodka and another bean or peelings to keep it going and not have to wait that initial 3 months.
Once the peels turn white, they can be removed and tossed. The vanilla bean can be placed in sugar to make vanilla sugar. This is yet another frugal idea, vanilla sugar is a great gift idea! Vanilla sugar also makes the best vanilla ice cream!
*Note I do not slice the beans and scrape them before adding to the vodka. I like a cleaner vanilla extract. If you are in a hurry and need vanilla extract quicker than 3 months, go ahead and split & scrape. They make a nicer vanilla sugar if they are not split and will still make a wonderful extract. Adjust to your needs and desires! *
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