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Homemade Vanilla Extract Recipe & more Homemade Extracts Recipes!

How to Make Homemade Extracts: Vanilla Extract Recipe & More!

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Easily make Homemade Extracts including my pure vanilla extract recipe & many more!


Hi Bold Bakers!

I love the idea of making DIY versions of ingredients that you thought you could only buy in a store. What I love even more is when the homemade version is just as good, if not better than store bought; that’s exactly what you get with these Homemade Extracts including my vanilla extract recipe. And there’s no doubt about it that there is something very satisfying about making and using them in your baked goods.

Did you know that for Homemade Extracts all you need is Vodka and your flavor and that’s it? So basically you can make any flavor your heart desires, like pure vanilla extract, as long as you have an alcohol or food safe vegetable glycerin substitute.

Do I have to use Alcohol to make extracts?

Yes, most extracts contain alcohol but you can use an alternative method in the recipe below that requires glycerine and water.

But store bought extract aren’t made on Alcohol!

Yes they are, and they usually use very low grade alcohol too.

Can you taste the alcohol?

Nope! No No No. It is used in such small amounts that you can neither taste it nor will it get you drunk. Also remember that during cooking the alcohol will burn off.

What is the difference between pure vanilla extract and Imitation vanilla extract?

Pure vanilla extract uses vanilla pods. Imitation vanilla extract has never seen a vanilla pod in its life. While some people say they can’t taste the difference, I believe that using good quality ingredients is essential to making any great baked goods. There’s no need for a substitute for vanilla extract when you can easily make the real thing and have it for months.

Do I have to use Vanilla Pods to make Vanilla Extract?

Yes, the pod and the seeds have all of the flavor. You can buy vanilla pods on Amazon, and you may also find good value in a store near you.

How long will Homemade Extracts last?

Indefinitely. Store them in labeled jars and keep them away from heat and out of direct sunlight. Buy the bottles I use on Amazon.

What are the benefits of making Homemade Extracts?

It’s so much cheaper to make your own than use store bought. Also some brands of store bought extracts contain low grade alcohol AND corn syrup. They can be a mixed bag of ingredients which is not what you want.

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When you first make your Homemade Extracts they will look like this, no color and clear.

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After 5 weeks or so they will change color, developed a much stronger flavor, and they will be ready to use in your baking.

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Homemade Orange Extract can be used in icing, buttercream, custards and batters like cupcakes.

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Homemade Lemon Extract will make a great addition to cakes, icing, and even frozen desserts like sorbet.

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Homemade Mint Extract can be added to whipped cream, frozen desserts like ice cream and sorbets and even on a bowl of fresh fruit for added flavor.

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I am a Pinterest nut and I came across the idea for Homemade Extracts here on  Just Putzing around The Kitchen. She did such a gorgeous job that I even purchased the bottles and labels she used hoping mine would look as good.


Get more of my Bold Baking Basics recipes here:

4.66 from 49 votes
Homemade Vanilla Extract Recipe & more Homemade Extracts Recipes!
How To make Vanilla Extract and many more
Author: Recipe from 'Just Putzing around The Kitchen'
Ingredients
Vanilla Extract
  • 3 whole vanilla beans
  • Vodka (You can also use bourbon)
Mint Extract
  • ½ cup mint leaves
  • Vodka
Orange Extract
  • 1 large navel orange
  • Vodka
  • Lemon Extract
  • 1 large lemon
  • Vodka
Almond Extract
  • 10 raw almonds , chopped (unsalted, untoasted)
Instructions
  1. Cut your vanilla beans in half, then split open each half to expose the vanilla seeds on the inside of the pod.
  2. Place cut vanilla beans inside your glass bottle.
  3. Add vodka, filling up to the neck of the bottle.
  4. Seal tightly and store bottle in a cool, dry place.
  5. Every few days, tilt your bottle upside down to gently mix the liquid inside.
  6. After 5-6 weeks, you have extract! (If you leave in your vanilla beans, when you start running low, just add more vodka and wait a little.)
  7. To make Mint Extract:
  8. Stuff mint leaves into your glass bottle.
  9. Using a chopstick, skewer, or other poking device, lightly bruise/crush the leaves inside the bottle.
  10. Add vodka, filling up to the neck of the bottle.
  11. Every few days, tilt your bottle upside down to gently mix the liquid inside.
  12. After 5-6 weeks, you have extract! (I’m not sure if, like vanilla extract, you can just leave the mint leaves inside. Since it’s leafy plant matter which disintegrates more easily, it may be a good idea to take it out. My leaves went from a vibrant green in the beginning to kind of a dull brown by the end so I took them out just to be safe – I poured my mint extract into another container through a sieve and discarded the mint leaves, then poured the filtered extract back into the bottle.)
  13. To make Orange Extract:
  14. Peel thin strips of zest from ½ of your orange.
  15. Place zest into your glass bottle.
  16. Add vodka, filling up to the neck of the bottle.
  17. Every few days, tilt your bottle upside down to gently mix the liquid inside.
  18. After 5-6 weeks, you have extract! (I think with citrus peels the acid (and alcohol bath), it’s probably safe to leave the peels inside the bottle like a vanilla bean for re-fill purposes. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this, take it out!)
  19. To make Lemon Extract:
  20. Peel thin strips of zest from your lemon.
  21. Place zest into your glass bottle.
  22. Add vodka, filling up to the neck of the bottle.
  23. Every few days, tilt your bottle upside down to gently mix the liquid inside.
  24. After 5-6 weeks, you have extract!
  25. To make Almond Extract:
  26. Chop your raw, unsalted almonds small enough to fit in your jar.
  27. Place chopped almonds into your jar.
Recipe Notes

Replacing Vodka: just substitute the alcohol called for in any extract recipe with three parts liquid vegetable glycerin and one part water.

You can also replace Vodka with Bourbon.

 

 

 

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Meet Gemma

Hi Bold Bakers! I’m Gemma Stafford, a professional chef originally from Ireland, and I’m passionate about sharing my years of experience to show you how to make game-changing baking recipes with over-the-top results! Join more than 1 Million other Bold Bakers in the community for new video recipes every week!

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530 Comments

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  1. Hudhaifa (I like minis!) on May 20, 2019 at 5:03 am

    Hi! I liked how this recipe looks like and all that, but I can’t really drink alcohol because I’m a muslim and glycerin is very hard to find. Is there something else that you can use that is not alcoholic and isn’t very hard to find?

    • Gemma Stafford on May 21, 2019 at 2:42 am

      Hi,

      Unfortunately those 2 are the only options that I know of. You could also try making your own sugar syrups. They are not as strong but they work.

      Best,
      Gemma.

  2. Clarisa on May 15, 2019 at 7:55 pm

    Hi Gemma i am so amazed with your recipes. I just want to know how many percentage of alcohol you use in vodka?thank u

    • Gemma Stafford on May 16, 2019 at 2:03 am

      Hi Clarisa,
      I just use the vodka which people drink, off the shelf. Generally, in the US this is 80 proof/40% alcohol per volume. It is expressed differently in different places, but the regular one in the store will do it for you,
      Gemma 🙂

  3. John F. Bubel on May 9, 2019 at 5:33 pm

    Gemma,
    Helphelphelp. I’m a rank amateur.
    Your recipes specify, for example, 1/2 cup of mint + vodka. How much vodka? It seems to me a half cup of mint in a 2 oz. bottle won’t leave room for anything else. Or will it? Once again, I’m an absolute amateur.
    Thanks,
    John Bubel

    • Gemma Stafford on May 9, 2019 at 6:24 pm

      Hi John,

      Don’t worry I got you! It is 4-5 ounces of vodka. If you want it a little milder flavor then add more vodka.

      After a week make sure to remove the mint leaves and discard. But keep your extract in the cupboard indefinitely.

      P.S Welcome to the Bold Baking Club!
      Best,
      Gemma.

  4. Terri on April 30, 2019 at 3:58 pm

    Gemma… I’m making these extracts as hostess gifts to give yo invites as they leave my daughter wedding shower…
    Soo cute so happy you shared this..
    My beautiful daughter Ashten
    Lived in England.2 years m furthered her studies.

    I flew to visit 3 times n yes yo Ireland!!
    I live the Europeans they taught myself m my daughter so much old world ideas..
    This is right at the top!
    The way of life there.. my grandma pure Sicilian Italian
    Died last year 96… she like you taught farming grown own produce cooking baking n art…

    You are really special to share this n we can pass down to our grandkids n children .
    Wow!⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
    Also please let me know about king cake you might try…
    can you do savory basil rosemary thyme extracts??

    • Gemma Stafford on May 1, 2019 at 8:57 pm

      Hi Terri,

      I love to hear that!! Thanks for trying it out.

      And glad to have you here as part of the community :).
      Best,
      Gemma.

  5. Anthony on April 26, 2019 at 8:44 pm

    Hi Gemma
    Can i use beer for extract? In my country, it’s really difficult to find plain vodka, i only found beer, flavoured vodka, and sparkling wine. Which one is better?
    Thank you 😊

    • Gemma Stafford on April 27, 2019 at 3:27 am

      Hi Anthony,
      can you find plant sourced/vegetable glycerin? If so then that will work well for you. These extracts are called glycerites but are much the same thing.
      You need the spirit for my version. Rum can be delicious for some, particularly for vanilla extract.
      I hope this is of help,
      Gemma 🙂

  6. Debbie on April 20, 2019 at 10:58 am

    How would I make apple extract?

    • Gemma Stafford on April 21, 2019 at 3:32 am

      Hi Debbie,
      in theory you should be able to make an apple extract, but the best extracts are made with things which have natural oils, such as herbs, citrus zest, cinnamon, coffee, vanilla, almonds etc.
      I have not made an apple extract, and I think if I were to do it I would use the peel of well washed, organic apples only. Quite a lot to get the flavor. Perhaps re-use a jelly/jam/mayo jar, 1/2 fill it with the chopped apple peels, and the seeds too, and cover to about 1 inch above the level of the peel with vodka. Then proceed.
      This should produce a good result. When the flavor has developed you can strain out the apple peel. You could also add lemon zest to this, or cinnamon stick either. The quality of the apple will matter. Amazon has one for sale, but I think I would try this first!
      Gemma 🙂

      • Debbie Cook on April 21, 2019 at 6:13 am

        Just curios, but why the seeds? I wouldn’t think that they would add any apple flavor.

        • Gemma Stafford on April 22, 2019 at 1:02 pm

          Hi, you do not have to leave the seeds, you just dont have to worry about discarding them.

  7. Karen on April 9, 2019 at 10:31 am

    Hi Gemma,
    I made so many different flavored extracts. I made mint, chocolate mint, Vanilla, orange, almond, and lavender, as I had a field of lavender. Anyway they all turned out great except the almond and mint. The almond just smelled like alcohol, after a very long time, even now after a year. The mint smells a bit off, and looks murky.
    Any suggestions, or reasons, you can think of that this happened?
    I love your videos and website. Thanks

    • Gemma Stafford on April 11, 2019 at 3:38 am

      Hi Karen,
      I am delighted you are making the extracts.
      What you have noticed is that the ones with a high natural oil content are doing really well for you. The mint, which is a soft herb, will have a couple of issues. If the leaves are washed before use they should be dried, and left to air dry for a time before using. When the flavor is extracted the leaves can be strained out, and the extract should then stay bright and fresh.
      The almonds are a different thing. You need quite a lot to make a successful extract. I think 12 skinned, fresh,raw almonds chopped fine but not pulverized to two cups/1 pint of vodka should produce a good almond extract.
      I hope this is of help, it is worth a second try. Re-use a sterile jam/mayo jar to make the extracts and strain out the almonds for another go!
      Gemma 🙂

  8. Sam on April 6, 2019 at 8:45 am

    Hi Gemma, Is Vanilla pod and Vanilla bean the similar thing?

    • Gemma Stafford on April 6, 2019 at 3:41 pm

      Yes Sam, they are the exact same thing. They are reason pricey right now. Each pod will cost $4-5 if you are lucky 🙂

      Gemma.

      • Sam on April 7, 2019 at 6:58 am

        Okay, Thank u so much!!

  9. Afsana Rubayat on April 6, 2019 at 7:59 am

    Hello Gemma,
    At first I like to thank you so much for your awesome recipes. I follow your channel. It help us to know some great tips n tricks. You r true baking mentor for all baking lovers.

    I am from Bangladesh. As Muslim we are not allowed to use alcohol in any food. Now my question is, is there any other way to make this extract rather than vodka?

    God bless you with good health and more successful life.

    • Gemma Stafford on April 6, 2019 at 5:01 pm

      Hi Afsana,

      just substitute the alcohol called for in any extract recipe with three parts liquid vegetable glycerin and one part water.

      Really glad you liked my recipes. Thanks for being apart of the community.

      Best,
      Gemma.

  10. Angel on April 6, 2019 at 12:17 am

    Just curious if I wanted to make a bigger bottle of the extracts what would be the measurement as to how much vanilla bean and vodka can I put in a bottle. Or does the size of the bottle not matter?

    • Gemma Stafford on April 6, 2019 at 4:47 pm

      it doesn’t matter at all the size. With the extracts you really can’t go wrong with the recipe.

      Best,
      Gemma.

  11. Erin Grinstead on March 23, 2019 at 8:01 pm

    Would it be a similar process for “soft” fruits like berries, or is there a different method for these?

    • Gemma Stafford on March 25, 2019 at 12:01 pm

      Hi, this method does not work the same with fruits. Most fruit extracts are unnatural.

  12. Ginette on March 22, 2019 at 8:39 pm

    Hi Gemma! I’m excited and a little nervous about making vanilla extract for the the first time. I have 1 pod and was wondering if you had a specific measurement for the vodka? Also, after I use up all the extract, do I throw the pod away or can I reuse it again? Or do I just keep adding vodka to the same mixture (like topping it up)?

    • Gemma Stafford on March 23, 2019 at 2:59 am

      Hi Ginette,
      Be brave! cut up the vanilla pod ad add it to a small jar. Cover the pod with the vodka, about 2 inches over the pod. Then you leave it. You will need a small-ish jar so as not to flood the flavor. You can re-use jars from your kitchen too, but for one pod a little one will be best.
      As you use this you can indeed to it up, but I suggest you decant the finished one, then start again with the pod. It should work for at least three fillings, then it will probably be spent. Dry the pod then and pop it into some sugar to get the last out of it.
      I hope you enjoy using this,
      Gemma 🙂

  13. Lisa on March 1, 2019 at 8:18 am

    How would you suggest making corn extract? Can I simply pour vodka over fresh corn kernels, or should they be crushed a bit, similar to mint leaves, to get the flavor?

    • Gemma Stafford on March 1, 2019 at 1:09 pm

      WOW, i never would have though of that. Great idea, yes.

  14. Lina on February 28, 2019 at 4:01 am

    Hello Gemma,
    Wanting to make the almond extract, but I noticed that there is no vodka mentioned at the bottom as is with the other extracts, I’m assuming you need to cover the almonds with vodka as you would with the others?

    Just want to be clear as I am excited to make this – it’s my favorite extract!

    Thanks,
    Lina

    • Gemma Stafford on March 1, 2019 at 1:37 pm

      Yes, that is correct 😀 Enjoy!

  15. Cristal on February 27, 2019 at 9:58 am

    How many cups of vodka do we need for 2 vanilla bean?

    • Gemma Stafford on February 28, 2019 at 2:59 am

      Hi Cristal,
      That will not be cups! two vanilla beans, cut to expose the seeds, and placed in a jar should be covered with the vodka, to about 1 inch above the level of the beans. The vodka can be topped up as you use it, until it is spent.
      Try it, you will see what I mean,
      Gemma 🙂

  16. Alvin on February 18, 2019 at 10:47 pm

    Do lemon peel need to be strained out after few week ?

    • Gemma Stafford on February 19, 2019 at 3:03 pm

      No, you can leave this in the be infused.

  17. gwen on February 14, 2019 at 3:23 am

    Is there a recipe for caramel extract

    • Gemma Stafford on February 14, 2019 at 5:06 pm

      Unfortunately, I do not have one. This is a different process altogether. Most likely synthetic. You can buy this online though

  18. Rehema on February 13, 2019 at 2:18 am

    Hi Gemma what do you mean by three parts vegetable glycerin and 1 part water when substiting alcohol when making extract? could you please give measures in either grams or spoons

    • Gemma Stafford on February 14, 2019 at 1:23 am

      Hi Rehema,
      This is a common way to describe the ratio of ingredients in a mix which varies according to how much you wish to make.
      This is true of extracts. Some people make a big jar of Vanilla for instance, in that case they will fill the jar 3/4 full with the glycerin and the remainder with pure water/distilled water. That is what 3:1 means.
      In terms then of grams to 100g of water add 30og glycerin etc.
      I hope this is of help,
      Gemma 🙂

  19. Nithi on February 7, 2019 at 8:13 pm

    Hi Gemma! Once developed (after the 5 weeks) could these be stored in the fridge? Thanks!

    • Gemma Stafford on February 7, 2019 at 9:33 pm

      You can store them at room temperature.

  20. Kathy on February 6, 2019 at 10:21 am

    how big a bottle do you use?

    • Gemma Stafford on February 7, 2019 at 9:41 pm

      I use a 2 oz bottle 😀

  21. Rhonda on January 29, 2019 at 10:26 am

    Thank you so much!!!!

    • Gemma Stafford on January 29, 2019 at 3:57 pm

      It’s my pleasure!

      • Ghousiya Begum Jaffar Basha on January 31, 2019 at 7:16 am

        Can u tell me instead of vodka what else can I put?

        • Gemma Stafford on February 2, 2019 at 8:13 pm

          yes you can use glycerin, a sugar syrup.

          • Nithi on February 8, 2019 at 12:31 am

            Hi Gemma! How long would it last on the shelf if we were to use glycerin?

            • Gemma Stafford on February 8, 2019 at 2:14 am

              Hi Nithi,
              these are called glycerites. When properly prepared, with the right ingredients, they will last for more than a year! It depends on what you are extracting the flavor from. Fresh leaves will need to be strained out after a few weeks.
              I hope this is of help,
              Gemma 😉



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