Thursday, April 14, 2011

Making Vanilla and Lemon Extracts



Last year, I tried my hand at homemade vanilla extract. I wasn't sure how it would turn out, but was hopeful that my trip to a liquor store wouldn't be in vain. According to Wikipedia, an extract is a substance made by extracting a part of a raw material, often by using a solvent such as ethanol or water.

In this case, vodka.

The vanilla extract was a success. In fact, I shared the fruits of my labor in gift baskets for Christmas.

Because I had made a gallon of the stuff.

My goal when entering the liquor store was to get in, grab the vodka, and get out. Somewhere in there I remembered to pay, but really, it's all just a blur. The problem was that nobody had warned me that there are like 5,000 different kinds of vodka, taking up an entire wall of the store. That meant that my method wasn't going to work. I was going to have to actually speak to the store person, which made my in-store time more prolonged. More time for someone I know to catch me in the act.

People might start to talk.

"Oh look. It's that lady with all the kids."

 "I just knew she was an addiction waiting to happen!"

Then those people would talk to other people and it would eventually get back to at least one of my grandmothers, my parents, or (gasp!), my pastor.

That would be bad. I can just imagine Sunday morning, people gathered around, trying to cast the demon liquor spirit out of me.  

People would definitely talk.

Since I gave away the majority of that gallon of vanilla, my share didn't last as long as I thought it would. So my Mister and I revisited the liquor store again.

Except he didn't get out of the truck.

He was afraid that people might talk.

Needless to say, having now been twice, it appears that I'm now on a first name basis with the liquor store lady. I've decided to limit my visits to once every 3 years lest she thinks we need to start exchanging Christmas cards.

Which for my family, translates to you are all on your own this year.

If you get started now, your vanilla extract will be ready in time for holiday baking!

~Vanilla Extract~

Madagascar Vanilla Beans (3 beans per cup of vodka)


Vodka (This does not have to be the most expensive stuff in the store!)


I made a half gallon, so I needed 24 vanilla beans. I cut lengthwise up the bean, leaving the top uncut.


Place the vanilla beans in the jar and fill with vodka.


Screw a tight-fitting lid on top and label with the date the extract was made. Place in a dark cupboard to steep. Shake the jar once a week for 3 weeks, then once a month after that.

Vanilla extract is ready to be used in 6 months.

~Lemon Extract~

1 organic lemon (for each 1/2 cup of vodka)


Peel lemon with a vegetable peeler being careful to only peel the rind, not the pith.

Measure vodka into a saucepan; add rind. Bring to boil; remove from heat and pour into jar.


Screw a lid down tight and place in cool, dark cupboard for minimum of 2 weeks before using.

If you see me coming out of a liquor store near you, please don't judge. 

I'm really just thinking about sugar cookies.

This post is linked to the Recipe Swap at Grocery Cart Challenge.





6 comments:

Dollwood Farms said...

Nice post. I actually started my Vanilla extract yesterday!

momma-lana said...

If you go to Wal Mart with a bunch of KY coupons and have like 6 in your cart you will run into your pastor and his wife who will keep eyeing the contents of your cart while you are chit chatting and after that you will cover up the pile with something else when you are buying said items. Ask me how I know!

Susan said...

Oh wow, I didn't know you could do lemon too! I bet you could do orange the same way....funny I posted my first attempt at vanilla extract this morning too. You are funny, I hope the demon chasers don't come after you! LOL
That is really funny that your husband sayed in the truck. My mother told me once of a story she has when she was doing some Christmas baking and needed some real rum. She went into a liquor store and ran into someone a from church. She said this was a very awkward moment because she was the womens ministries leader of a AG church of about 600 people :o)
We laugh now.

Savories of Life said...

I knew about vanilla extract too becasue we make it all the time and it isso easy to do. it always turns out well. You just have to smell it to see when it is ready. I will try lemon extract as I ahve never done it. Have a great day.

Lucie said...

I have done the same thing for several years making vanilla. Got a super good deal in a mark-down basket at Fred Meyer for vanilla. Before that, I have been made Echinacea tincture pretty much the same way but adding glycerine too. The funny part: if you buy vodka to make echinacea tincture, the flavored kinds go down easier with the children. So, I needed to make a new batch and had one of my little ones with me (I usually tried not to take the children into the liquor store) but one day I had to. We walked in and I was looking at the vodka's and my 6 year old daughter said, Mom! buy the cherry flavored vodka. It's on sale!! I wanted to crawl under a rock, because you know those little ones don't talk softly when they are trying to get your attention!

Kim said...

Lucie~That's funny! Gotta love the innocence of children! That's good to know about the flavored vodka for tinctures...I wouldn't have thought of that!