Apr 22, 2014

homemade vanilla and lemon extracts

Yes, I have become THAT person.  I am making my own vanilla extract.  And lemon extract.  In fact, I'm making most everything from scratch anymore.

Here are the few items that we usually buy prepared, as they are cheaper or just not worth the time to make regularly:

  • Guacamole (because we can't find any decent avocados!)
  • Tortilla chips and crackers
  • Frozen pizzas (for those nights when we can't bear to make anything, but we still make the homemade kind occasionally)
  • Butter
  • Salsa
  • Sandwich bread (sometimes bought, sometimes homemade)
  • Meatless "meat" and tofu (Morningstar, Quorn, Tofurky, etc)
  • Almond milk
  • Pasta
  • Cheese (usually bought, but not always!)
  • Chocolate chips
  • Some salad dressings and mayo (although we've started to use more and more olive oil and vinegar)
Yes, that just about does it.  Really.  

We have saved SO much money on groceries since going homemade and we actually know what's going into our bodies.  Want to join me in my crazy homemade efforts?  Start with some simple, delicious recipes like homemade tortillas, refried beans, pasta sauce, artisan bread, or yogurt.  Or, give these extracts a whirl.  **They literally take about 10 minutes of active work for as much as you could want.  You can never have too much vanilla extract, can you?

**Do note, though, that these extracts do take a long time to become flavorful and delicious.  See recipe below.

Homemade Extracts
Recipes adapted from Make the bread, buy the butter by Jennifer Reese

Vanilla Extract
  • 1 oz whole vanilla beans per cup of vodka.  After measuring, cut the beans longways and scrape the seed contents out to use.  Discard the bean shell.  (I found mine cheapest through Amazon.  Buy in bulk and you'll be set for a LONG time!  I may have just made a half gallon recently...)
  • 1 c plain (cheap) vodka

Lemon Extract
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 c plain (cheap) vodka
For either extract, simply combine the two ingredients in a glass jar with a lid.  Store the jar in a dark place, like a kitchen cabinet or pantry.  Shake the jar occasionally to help infuse the vodka with the flavoring.  I shake the jars once every 2-3 days.  Either extract should be ready within about 2 months.  The flavor improves with time, so taste it to see when it's ready to enjoy.  You can either strain out the vanilla beans/lemon zest once you're ready to use it if you choose.  I don't, though, as it's easy to simply scoop out the right amount of extract, leaving the vanilla beans or lemon zest to continue to flavor the vodka.


  1. Amanda (the one you know...)April 22, 2014 at 4:00 PM

    Vodka?!??? I would never have guessed to make extracts with vodka! That is so weird.

    John was really hoping for awhile to be able to put a mason jar on each table at the wedding with a couple of marbles in it, salt, and half and half. He thought it would be a great activity to have the table have to "churn" their own butter to use. It didn't work out. haha.

  2. Yes, vodka. Most (good) extracts are mainly alcohol because it evaporates quicker than water, so it won't mess with the recipe.

    And, it's too bad that John lost that fight =)


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