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My daughter loves to spend time in the kitchen.  I encourage this as I think it’s really important that children have the skills in food preparation which will allow them to cook their own meals rather than be reliant on packet mixes and convenience foods later on.  All the baking we do is from scratch, so she has learned a lot about natural ingredients.

Over Christmas we made a lot of our own Christmas presents, including infused sugar, preserved lemons and vanilla extract.

Vanilla extract is extremely easy to make, and given how expensive it is to buy, you really should try it out.

Vanilla extract Ingredients:

2-3 Vanilla beans
250ml vodka
A glass bottle with lid
I buy organic vanilla beans off Trademe for a very reasonable price, much cheaper than the supermarket.


Split the vanilla beans lengthwise, scrape out whats inside (all the seeds and a kind of brown paste) and put it all into the glass jar. Add vodka to fill.  Put the jar in a dark cupboard and shake daily.  Wait 6-8 weeks until you use it.

I kept a bottle for our own cupboard and we just add more vodka as the volume goes down.  A friend also gave me a bottle of homemade extract for Christmas but we had to add extra beans as it never developed the flavour and colour we were looking for.

So I started thinking about other extracts that we used, and whether we could make any of those at home.  It turns out that peppermint extract is also very easy to make.

To make Peppermint Extract you just take a few handfuls of peppermint leaves and add them to vodka, much as described for vanilla extract.   Bruise or chop the mint to let the essential oils come out into the vodka.  Put into a glass container, shake it daily, then leave it for 6-8 weeks in the dark cupboard.  The longer you leave it the more flavour you will have.  After that time you can strain the leaves out.

Making Coconut Extract is a little more complicated, but still relatively easy.  I found this recipe on the Food network and all you need is coconut and, you guessed it, vodka.

There are quite a few links online to make lemon extract, but I think by now you are getting the idea.  This recipe call for lemons and vodka, and the methodology is almost identical as for vanilla and peppermint extract.

These extracts will keep indefinitely, as the alcohol serves as a preservative.

Given the similarities between recipes I think it’s a safe bet to say that you could come up with your own extracts for use in cooking and baking, quickly and easily at home.  You could try almond, coffee, melon, chocolate, orange or even berries.  I’m quite keen to experiment with an Olive leaf Extract, given that we have an olive tree in the garden.

I’d love to hear your suggestions and how easy you found any of the recipes.




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2 Responses to “Homemade Extracts: Just use your imagination”

  • sandra doherty:

    This is really interesting! I had no idea that extracts were made with alcohol, makes sense now that I know. So are all good vanilla extracts made with alcohol? Should the flavour of the vodka dissipate over time?

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