Did you know that simply by steeping herbs, peel and fruit in alcohol you can make extracts? I discovered this quite by accident when researching what to do with an excess of leggy lavender from a rampant bush. I found a post about lavender vodka and because I refuse to follow recipes, I used far too much lavender. Rather than a delicately flavoured beverage I ended up with a murkey liquid which, lucky for me, turns out to be an extract.
Make Your Own
Extracts are strongly flavoured plant extracts. They used to flavour drinks and food. They are a great way of using up a glut of something and preserving it for use later in the year. They are incredibly easy to make and have to be the easiest way of preserving.
The alcohol used is usually vodka and the general rule of thumb seems to be to buy mid range. Too cheap and the nasty flavour intrudes, too expensive and it is a waste of good vodka. Some recipes also suggest rum.
The method is the same.
Take the herb put it in a jar cover it with vodka and leave in a cool dark place remembering to shake occasionally. Time steeping varies with the herb and the recipe.
Once done you strain off the liquid through a sieve and them some fine cotton.
Here are some steeping guidelines.
- Lavender – flowers steep for 4 weeks
- Vanilla use the beans steep for two months.
- Mint leaves one to two months.
- Citrus Extracts use the rind of the fruitbut not the bitter white pith. Use organic unwaxed fruit. steep for 5 to 6 weeks.
- Cinnamon bark (sticks) steep for two weeks.
- Berries 6 to 8 weeks or longer.
Apparently extracts will keep for 3-5 years.