vanilla, chili, hazelnut & lemon extracts… the experiment

I was obsessing over pinterest the other day whilst at work, just like I usually do. Whilst scrolling through the hundreds of pictures & looking for inspiration I came across a picture for homemade vanilla extract. Immediately this struck me. I can’t seem to get enough of the idea of home-made items. I love the idea of making soap, deodorant, shampoo, facecream, butter, cheese, yogurt, anything that I use in day to day life that I can make myself really.

Aged one week:
 (I tried a tiny bit of the chili, it already has a real kick to it!)

I mean, why not? Most of the crap I find in the grocery store says “imitation” on the label, especially extracts. Why would anyone want to use a scientists version of what vanilla should taste like if they could make the real thing at home.

So, here I am looking at this picture & I see in the recipe that it’s just vanilla beans & vodka. Really? That’s it? I just need two ingredients? I have those right now!

Seriously though, I figured it couldn’t have been that simple, nothing in life is that simple. So, I started googling vanilla extract & how to make it. Would you believe that every single recipe called for just two ingredients?! The only changes were that some people opted to use bourbon with the vanilla beans instead of vodka.

If it was really that easy… what was to stop a person making all sorts of extracts? So, I started looking at lemon. I was amazed once again that it was just two ingredients. The only difference with the lemon was that it just used the rind (all the pyth completely removed) & absolutely none of the juice. Confused I started researching why. Turns out, unlike the juice, the rind contains little to no acidity. This is a bonus in baking since the acidity level can start messing with the way your bicarbonate of soda or baking powder works.

Anyway, what it boils down to is that I was so excited by this, I decided to make two common flavors & two slightly off the wall ones. Chocolate & chili has to be one of the best combinations ever, but to incorporate it into baking you end up buying expensive chocolate that already has chili in it & pay for the novelty of it all… so, why not make a chili extract too?

This is all just an experiment by the way. Almost everyone online seems to think that this will work. I on the other hand am skeptical, optimistic & hopeful about it. I currently have four flavors marinating in 750ml of vodka each & will have to patiently wait the two months whilst the flavors fully soak up, merge & become (possibly) amazing.

So…. here it is.

Right…. if the number is in bold, it’s because a change was made. I found at the end of the two month process that the extracts weren’t nearly strong enough & still smelled very strongly of vodka… so, I doubled the quantities of the flavoring agents in most cases, and within two weeks they were perfect.

Ingredients, vanilla:
– 750ml vodka
8 bourbon vanilla beans

Ingredients, chili:
– 750ml vodka
8 medium hot chilis
– 1 tbs dark brown sugar

Ingredients, hazelnut:
– 750ml vodka
300 hazelnuts, toasted & de-skinned
2 bourbon vanilla beans

Ingredients, lemon:
– 750ml vodka
8 lemons, just the rind, absolutely no pith (that’s the white stuff)

Directions:
1. you will need a bottle, jar or some form of container per extract that you chose to make.
2. to sterilize the bottles, place them in a baking dish & fill with boiling water. Put that dish into the oven on high & leave for 15 minutes.
3. place your ingredients in each bottle & leave for two months.

Don’t take my word for wether or not this will work yet, we wont know for sure until just before christmas. If it does work though, this will make a great christmas gift!

…for more recipes from us, check out our archives.

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