Good Time to Extract

January 2nd, 2012  |  82 Comments

Hello again, Gorgeous. And, Handsome. Yes you. Happy New Year to you. I hope 2012 is your year, filled with all the things you wish for, whether it be job success, or attainment of personal joy and satisfaction. Or good pastry eatin’. I know I feel hopeful.

My guess is you’re all baked out from the holiday season. Maybe you just want to veg and recover from last night’s self-inflicted fun. I’m with ya.

So I say, all we have to do is prepare for next time. Let’s make some flavors, in the form of extracts.

After having bought one ten-dollar bottle after another of vanilla, I finally decided to grab some vodka and make my own. Not to drink. For the the extracts. Ok, so I had a little nip. Or two. Keeps the ol’ bones warm, yeah?

As long as we have booze, why stop at just vanilla. Let’s go to town and make a bunch. Many recipes use them, so why not have them on hand? Thanks to the powerful preserving qualities of 40 proof, they keep very well.

 

Today we have vanilla, orange, coconut and mint. There’s really hardly a recipe to speak of. All that’s needed is your main ingredient and the liquor. I like to use vodka because the flavor is so neutral, but feel free to use rum. And do play with other flavors, like lemon, lime, almond, rosemary, cinnamon, ginger, or whatever springs to mind. All the liquor does is suck out the flavor of whatever you put in it. Perfection as a base for cocktails, too.

Speaking of saving your hard earned moolah, for some reason one sorry vanilla bean purchased in the store will cost you a ransom. I like to buy a fat pack for a fraction of the price, and keep it in the fridge. The beans stay moist and pliable, lasting for weeks. Also, these are the jars I used, perfectly sized for easy storage.

 

Flavored Extracts: Vanilla, Coconut, Orange, Mint

Even though the rule of thumb is, the longer you leave these alone to extract the flavor, the more potent they become, the exception is fresh herbs. In this case, the mint needs to be removed after about 2 days, or it will go black and bitter. The rest can hang out as they are for a good 3 – 6 months.

3 vanilla beans

2 oranges

1 small bunch mint

1 coconut

1 liter bottle of vodka

4 small jars with tight lids

1. Ready for extraction.

2. Split all the vanilla beans. No need to scrape them.

3. Pick the mint leaves.

4. Now for the dreaded preparation of the coconut. Take a clean nail, or metal skewer, a rather thick one. You can run it over an open flame for a second to disinfect it if it’s stainless steel. Whack it into the eyes of the coconut. Since these spots are pretty soft, it should go in pretty easily.

5. Drain out the lovely coconut water. Save it and drink it after a rough workout. They call it nature’s Gatorade because there’s lots of potassium.

 

6. Holding the coconut firmly in your hand, give it a few whacks on the center, circling all the way around the equator. It should start to crack open. If you find that it’s too unsteady in your hand, place it on a towel on a sturdy table and have at it that way.

7. Here are my dusty pieces. Take a small paring knife, and run it between the coconut and the shell. Be careful to run the knife AWAY from you, lest you stab yourself first thing in the new year. I don’t wish that for you.

8. Then peel the husky skin off these pieces and run them under cold water to remove all that coconut debris.

And grate on the large side of the grater. We only need about 1/2 cup. The rest is good for munching.

So satisfying to make your own fresh coconut.

9. All the oranges need is a quick peel of the skins.

10. Place each item in its own respective jar and cover with about a cup of vodka. I didn’t even measure. I just divided my bottle evenly among the 4 jars. Make sure they are well submerged. Remove the mint after 2 days. The rest can stay as they are for months to suck up the maximum flavor potency. The vanilla will get quite dark after a while, which is a big plus.

Use them as needed in recipes. When they run out, make some more!

Flavored Extracts: Vanilla, Coconut, Orange, Mint

Even though the rule of thumb is, the longer you leave these alone to extract the flavor, the more potent they become, the exception is fresh herbs. In this case, the mint needs to be removed after about 2 days, or it will go black and bitter. The rest can hang out as they are for a good 3 – 6 months.

3 vanilla beans

2 oranges

1 bunch mint

1 coconut

1 liter bottle of vodka

1. Prepare the vanilla beans: Split all the vanilla beans. No need to scrape them.

2. Prepare the mint: Pick the mint leaves.

3. Now for the dreaded preparation of the coconut: Take a clean nail, or metal skewer, a rather thick one. You can run it over an open flame for a second to disinfect it if it’s stainless steel. Whack it into the eyes of the coconut. Since these spots are pretty soft, it should go in pretty easily.

4. Drain out the lovely coconut water. Save it and drink it after a rough workout. They call it nature’s Gatorade because there’s lots of potassium.

5. Holding the coconut firmly in your hand, give it a few whacks on the center, circling all the way around the equator. It should start to crack open. If you find that it’s too unsteady in your hand, place it on a towel on a sturdy table and have at it that way.

6. Take a small paring knife, and run it between the coconut and the shell. Be careful to run the knife AWAY from you, lest you stab yourself first thing in the new year. I don’t wish that for you.

7. Then peel the husky skin off these pieces and run them under cold water to remove all that coconut debris. And grate on the large side of the grater. We only need about 1/2 cup. The rest is good for munching.

8. Prepare the orange: All the oranges need is a quick peel of the skins.

9. Place each item in its own respective jar and cover with about a cup of vodka. I didn’t even measure. I just divided my bottle evenly among the 4 jars. Make sure they are well submerged. Remove the mint after 2 days. The rest can stay as they are for months to suck up the maximum flavor potency. The vanilla will get quite dark after a while, which is a big plus. Use them as needed in recipes.

When they run out, make some more!






82 Responses to “Good Time to Extract”

  1. Chris says:

    Hello. My wife and I have been wondering about doing other extracts besides vanilla and coconut. If you have any other ideas, please pass them along. :)

    Two questions:

    On the oranges, is it just peel that goes in the jar?

    Also, can you use sliced almonds for almond extract?

    Thanks

  2. PastryPal says:

    Hi Chris — You can try making any extract that you can think of. There are a few suggestions in the post. As for your questions, I only used the orange peels.

    And you can use almonds for extract, though the extract they produce won’t taste quite like what you buy in the store. The stuff in the store is typically made from a type of bitter almond which is tough to source, but is similar to the kernel found inside of an apricot pit. Those you can buy here. Throw them in the jar with the alcohol, and wait at least a couple of months. Give the jar a shake every few days.

  3. Rose Gilbert says:

    Proving yet again that all chefs, like all house painters, drink! Or should!
    And who could blame you for taking a little nip? Your extracts
    are inspired alchemy.

  4. Karin says:

    Hi Irina, can these be stored on a shelf or do they need to be refrigerated both during the “soaking stage” and after they’ve been opened? I assume the alcohol means no refrigeration, but I learned not to assume anything a LONG time ago. Thanks for any help you can give!! And thanks for your awesome blogs! I get soooooooo excited when I see “PastryPal” in my inbox!

  5. PastryPal says:

    Thanks, Rose. And yes, it seems all chefs drink more than their fair share :).

  6. PastryPal says:

    Karin — I appreciate you reading my blog, thank you so much! As far as the extracts, you can store them on a shelf, unrefrigerated.

  7. Karin says:

    Irina, one more question (can you tell I’m excited?) …. does the quality of the vodka matter?

  8. PastryPal says:

    Karin, I don’t think it will matter much, given that you use only a teaspoon or so of extract in most recipes.

  9. Batia says:

    Welcome back, Irina !
    I LOVE your blog!
    I was looking forward to your new recipe.
    Can i use your vanille extract for baking?Does it have the same effect as commecial one?

  10. PastryPal says:

    Hi Batia — Nice to hear from you again! Yes, the extracts are used exactly as commercial extracts.

  11. Dee says:

    Oh whoops is this for cooking? Somehow I immediately interpreted this as methods to create your own flavoured Vodka haha.

  12. Tee says:

    Love your awesome blog. Is there a non alcoholic version for the extract? I buy the non alcoholic vanilla extracts and wonder how i can do this at home. Tks in advance

  13. Eileen says:

    How have I never made vanilla extract when it’s that simple, and I use so much!!! That will change this year. 2012 resolution found! Thank you.

  14. PastryPal says:

    Hi Tee — Unfortunately, I have no experience with non alcoholic extracts. They are made with glycerin and here is a link. You can always google a source.

  15. Awesome, I have always avidly promoted making your own extract (it’s the easiest one out of the lot after all), but so awesome to know you can make other extracts.

    Since I’m pretty lazy…is it possible to make coconut extract by using dessicated coconut? I’m guessing the flavour won’t be as awesome though

  16. Tee says:

    Tks Irina for answering my query and for the link. Best wishes for 2012!

  17. PastryPal says:

    Hiya Zo! I guess you can try it with dessicated coconut, but I imagine you’re right, the flavor won’t be as good. Sigh, the pros and cons of cutting corners :).

  18. Bunny says:

    What a great idea! I hear you about how expensive extracts are, it’s ridiculous! Thanks for the recipe!

  19. Novice Chef says:

    Now I know what to do with my liter of vodka! Does this also work for making coffee or espresso extract?

  20. I can’t wait to try this! When I used to work in a pastry kitchen we would make Vanilla Brandy to use as extract. We saved all the pods after scraping the beans out, putting them into a large jar. When we had enough, we heated a bottle of brandy and the beans in a sauce pan to a simmer. Then poured it all back into the large jar. It was a continuous project, adding more beans as we used them, and when the extract got low, infusing more brandy. It was not too fun to get a whiff of that after a night of drinking. (I agree – many chefs drink more than their fair share.)

  21. PastryPal says:

    Novice Chef — The one exeception is coffee extract. It’s usually sweet, because it’s made with a different method suing sugar. This link is a good example.

  22. Tenny says:

    hi! LOVED the post. but I was wondering if it was possible to make an extract with berries like blueberries or raspberries?

  23. PastryPal says:

    Hi Tenny — Interesting idea. Here’s a link I found and from the sound of it, looks like it would work well.

  24. EmBee says:

    Hello. I have just stumbled upon this blog after making several extracts.(A new fascination of mine) My question is about almond extract. I understand that the almonds available in the US are sweet almonds and that using a peach or apricot seed can emulate the flavor of commercial almond extracts, However I hesitated adding the seed to my extract concoction because I was told that they were poisonous?? Is this correct? Or is the amount that is in the extract of such a negligible amount it wouldn’t matter? I even bought the peach and then turned around and threw away the seed/pit out of fear..hahaha

  25. PastryPal says:

    EmBee — You’re right, seeds like this do cause a reaction when eaten that produces cyanide. At first I thought they were illegal in the US, though you can procure them from some online sources. A few seeds wont have any ill effects. I used to make a dessert with them in my restaurant. And they are freely eaten in Europe. You’d have to eat a lot of seeds to suffer ill effects. Having said that, it might just be easier and less risky to purchase almond extract.

  26. EmBee says:

    Thank you for your quick response and answering the question. Well I figure 2 seeds immersed in the vodka with sweet almonds wont hurt …hahaha. I noticed alot of older recipes actually call for a peach seed (especially in canning) so I will play it safe and not share it with anyone. :P Have an awesome weekend!

  27. PastryPal says:

    Embee, I find that interesting about the seed used in canning. I wonder if they didn’t know about the cyanide ? :). I think two seeds in vodka will be perfectly fine. Let me know if yours tastes as good as commercial almond extract.

  28. kashuen says:

    Hello,

    Can you let me know the brand of Vodka that you used? Thank you for the great post.

  29. PastryPal says:

    Kashuen — I used Grey Goose, but you can use any.

  30. Faith says:

    Hi, I was wondering if you know about making papaya extract. I want to make some, but not sure how I would do that. Would I just buy some vodka and cut some papaya up and add it to the vodka? Or would I need to add any extra steps?

  31. jamie says:

    How do you make stevia extract?

  32. Kim says:

    Are these considered “imitation” extracts or “Pure” extracts?? Most recipes call for pure but I have seen the imitation ones and they are horrible…..

  33. PastryPal says:

    Kim — These are pure as can be.

  34. PastryPal says:

    Jamie — I really don’t know since I can’t get the stevia plant here in the New York area :). Sorry!

  35. tracy says:

    what kinda of vodka did you use?

  36. brianna says:

    so how long do they need to sit like this (soaking up the flavor) before you use them in a recipe? and besides the mint…should you remove the peels or whatever after 3-6 months to make sure they dont get gross and contaminate the extract? Also what are some other flavors that can be done with the vanilla, orange, and coconut instructions?

  37. D.BAKER says:

    Irina, this is a great blog you have here. I am a young aspiring pastry chef and I’ve got to say- I am inspired! I had no idea making homemade extracts could be done AND so easily. This has just made so many of my ideas for incorporating flavors very possible. You’ve just made me one happy person. :) Thank you for being insightful and thank you so much for sharing your knowledge, it’ll help towards making me a great pastry chef someday.

    P.S Expect to see many comments from me from now on. :)

  38. PastryPal says:

    About a month of rest should do you, and some other flavors that come to mind: lemon, lime, almond, rosemary, cinnamon, ginger. Really anything you can think of. I haven’t removed the peels in mine. They seem ok — vodka is a great preservative!

  39. PastryPal says:

    I used Ketel One, but any vodka would work.

  40. PastryPal says:

    D.Baker — Welcome! And hope to see you around here :)

  41. Roberto N says:

    This comment comes kinda late, so sorry!

    TO make it easier to remove the flesh from the coconut, after banging it to pieces, use tongs to hold the shell over an open flame. After a couple of minutes of waving it back and forth over the flame set it down to cool, then use a paring knife. You’ll find that the meat comes right off.

  42. jc says:

    I’ve read that watermelon extract helps reduce blood pressure and would like to make some. Do you think I should add the rind to the maceration.

  43. Dani says:

    Love your extracts. Am definitely doing these! Thank you!

  44. Jessica says:

    Ok, several questions: If I were to try making the rosemary extract (I don’t know what I’d use it for, but now I kind of want it!), could I leave the rosemary in the bottle, or would I need to remove it after two days like you do with the mint? Also, what about basil? And does it work well if you replace the mint leaves a couple times, or is the extract strong enough with just the first bunch of leaves? Thanks! :)

  45. PastryPal says:

    Hi Jessica — Welp, I’ve never made either but they sound promising. As with anything new, it’s a matter of experimentation and common sense, so I’d guess that you’d have to remove both rosemary and basil after a few days of infusion, or they’ll likely start to blacken. I’d watch them every day, and at the first sign of change, I’d remove them. And yes, I would think that adding some fresh leaves would continue to strengthen the extract. Do share your results if you try them out.

  46. PastryPal says:

    jc — I’ve heard the same. If you’re making it for medicinal properties, I’d say sure go ahead and add the rind, but it might make the mix a little bitter — not necessarily a bad thing.

  47. Sabrisayid says:

    Hello,

    I found your website while searching for recipies of making extracts,
    I am impressed of how useful and accessible it is, both your website and making extracts:
    Many thanks for that :)

    However, i have a few questions to ask:

    How can i apply this process to fruits, such as apples, pears, apricots …?
    Do i need to put the whole fruit into the jar with the alcohol?
    Or just the skin? or both?

    Can i leave the fruits into the jar or should i remove them after a few days?

    Can this process of extraction work with cacao beans? or cacao powder?

  48. donna says:

    Hi,thank u for sharing ur knowledge on making extracts…I’m making cacao disk from ground cacao beans, now I want to incorporate the extracts so they’ll be flavored..I’ll be trying a few leaves like mint,peppermint and tarragon.,..also the orange, my question is aftrni kux d extract into the ground cacao,I mold them to shapes and dry…will the extract cause molds?I’m selling them so I’m welcoming ur suggestions coz not good in kitchen,by d way, can I sell too my homemade extracts?

  49. sharda says:

    How would I use this if I wanted to make grape extract. Assuming that I could. Or strawberry or any other fruit? Is it the same process?

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