Alcohol-Infused ExtractsAlcohol is used because it acts as a preservative. Vodka is the most popular because it doesn't have much flavor and therefore won't intrude on the fruit flavoring. Clear rum is another popular choice. Other spirits, like rum or bourbon, can be used, but they will add a distinctive flavor to the extract. The spirit, of course, must be at least 40% alcohol content (80 proof). 100 proof is best.
The process is simple: combine fresh fruit, herbs, and alcohol in a jar and let it sit for some time. The longer that the extract sits, the stronger the flavor. Besides the fruit and alcohol, the only other thing you need is a glass jar to store it in.
Alcohol-Free ExtractsIf you prefer not to use alcohol, extracts can be made without it. Glycerin is used as a substitute. Mix food-grade liquid glycerin with water in a ratio of 3:1 to equal the amount of alcohol in the recipe. For example, 1 cup of alcohol translates to ¾ cup of liquid glycerin and ¼ cup of water to replace it. Glycerin extracts are more syrupy than alcohol-based ones.
Method for Making Alcohol-Infused ExtractsAdd the fruits or herbs to a glass jar and pour the alcohol over it. Screw the lid on tightly. Store it in a cool, dark location. Shake it well once per day. All the ingredients should be covered by alcohol. If they are not, add more until they are completely covered. The final flavor should be almost unbearably intense.
Blueberry, Strawberry, Cherry, and Raspberry Extracts
Add ¾ cup of fresh berries to a jar. Mash the berries well. Add 1 cup of alcohol and mix well. Store the jar in a cool, dark location for at least eight weeks. Taste test after eight weeks and leave it to sit longer if you'd like a
more robust flavor.
Orange, Lemon, Grapefruit, and Lime Extracts
Combine ¼ cup finely chopped citrus zest and 1 cup alcohol in a jar. Remove all white pith from the zest, as it will add a bitter flavor. Store the jar in a cool, dry location for at least six weeks. Taste test and leave it for longer if desired.
Combine one cup of roughly chopped fresh basil and 1 cup of alcohol in a glass jar. The basil must be chopped and not left whole to maximize the flavor. After two weeks, taste test for flavor and leave for longer if a more robust flavor is desired.
Roughly chop 3 cups of fresh mint. It is essential to chop it and not leave it whole; this increases the mint oil that is released and creates a more robust flavor. Combine the mint and 1 cup of alcohol in a glass jar. Store the jar in a cool, dry location for a minimum of 1 week and then test for strength.
Storing ExtractsWhen the extract is the strength you like, strain it through cheesecloth and discard the fruit or herb bits. Store in the containers in a cool, dark location. Small glass spice jars or empty extract bottles that have been cleaned thoroughly work well. Dark-colored jars are best since sunlight can't penetrate them as well. Homemade extracts are best used within two years.
Next time you have some extra fresh fruit and herbs, try your hand at these extracts. Get creative! Mix different items together for a unique creation. Blueberry-mint and strawberry-basil are just a few ideas. Let your imagination be the guide.