Extracts are used in cooking and baking to enhance the flavor of the dish you’re making, whether that is something sweet or savory. Cooking and baking a like can really benefit from extracts because you can pump up the flavor rather quickly without much hassle or without actually adding any physical ingredients.

The process of extracting is done by taking parts from a raw material and using a solvent. Breaking that down even further for those of us that don’t really remember chemistry, it’s a liquid that can break down another material. When making eatable extracts you’ll want to use alcohol because it’s the most efficient way to do so. Stick around until the end of the article and you’ll learn how to extract something using water and salt if you’re not really into the idea of using alcohol.

Some of the best things to extract are vanilla beans, lavender, almond, lemons and garlic because of their pungent flavor and aromas that can easily be transferred into the solution that they’re in. Don’t let that short list put boundaries on you because you can essentially extract anything you want.

In fact, all essential oils are extracted from flowers and fruits using a similar process. When you make your own you can be sure that there are no additives or chemicals, just pure extract.

10. Vanilla Bean


Vanilla extract is essential for many baked goods and is the most common way people use vanilla today. When making your DIY vanilla extract you can use different kinds of vanilla and different ratios of alcohol to change up the variates you have available. Mexican, Tahitian, Indonesian, and Madagascan vanilla beans are all great for making extract because of their intense flavor. All you need to make a good extract is three vanilla beans per 4 oz container and some vodka.

Make sure your beans are plump and not dried up or the beans in the vanilla won’t be strong enough. Cut the beans in half and put three whole into each 4oz mason jar and pour the premium vodka over them until fully submerged. The key now is to wait, it’ll take about 8-10 weeks to fully become a flavorful extract. Making this yourself will save you money and ensure that you’re using the best products available.

9. Hazelnut


Just like vanilla, hazelnut extract is great in baking when you want a subtle or strong nutty flavor but don’t want the actual chopped up nuts or don’t have time to. A little more time consuming than plain vanilla extract, you’ll need to start with about one cup of hazelnuts for every jar of extract you plan on making. Start by roasting the skinned and cleaned nuts for 8-10 minutes in an oven at 350 degrees F, coarsely chop the nuts and place them in a jar. Cut two vanilla beans and place it in the same jar with the nuts and cover with a cup of vodka.

After letting it sit for at least four weeks strain out the nuts and you can start using your extract! If you want to, you can sweeten up the nuts with some organic coconut sugar and save them for a sweet treat. Try making cookies, coffee cake, or use your extract as coffee flavoring.

8. Almond


Almond extract is going to be the same process as hazelnut but instead try grinding the almonds to get as much flavor out of them as possible. Some of the best baking recipes call for almond extract and you’ll love making them when you have your own. Some good recipes are oatmeal, rice pudding, french toast, and baked apples. For the oatmeal just sprinkle in a bit of the extract on top of whatever else you top it with. Rice pudding is a delicious cinnamon pudding that gets even better with a hint of homemade almond extract.

Now for french toast you’ll have everyone asking what it is that you put in your recipe because it’s just a hint of something extra. Instead of normal vanilla extract use your almond extract to change it up. And finally, if you’re into a little baked apple deliciousness than start out by coring four apples and fill them with a mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg, oats, almond extract, and butter and bake them at 375 degrees F for 20 minutes. Top with some ice cream and you’ve got a warm, wonderful dessert.

7. Vanilla Scented Sugar


Using your homemade vanilla extract you can make a lavish sugar scrub for your body. Sugar scrub can benefit your skin in various ways but the most evident and obvious are it makes your skin smoother and healthier. Scrubbing your body once a week will take off any excess dead skin and dirt leaving you soft and supple.

All you need is organic brown sugar or coconut sugar, vanilla extract, two vanilla beans, and a jar to keep it in. Mix your sugar with a touch of your homemade extract, and the scraped out vanilla beans and shells into a jar. Mix everything evenly and let it sit for about 10 days before using to get the full aroma into the sugar.

6. Lemon


Lemon extract is great for all things citrus to give a little boost of freshness. The most popular recipes for lemon extract are cookies, cakes, and pie fillings. Buy the freshest medium lemon you can find, peel off all the zest and put it into a jar. Next, cover the extract with about 3/4 of a cup of premium vodka and 1/4 of a cup of water. Let the mixture sit for about a week and you can start using it! Because the lemon is so pungent and citrusy it allows for a shorter steeping time. Make sure to use the rest of the lemon, as it won’t last long without the zest.

5. Peppermint


Peppermint extract is one of the most interesting on this list because it can be used for much more than just cooking–although it tastes great! The natural oils in the peppermint leaves work as pest repellent, natural medicine, and dietary supplement. Peppermint extract can be made from either dried or fresh leaves and florets, but for easy straining dried works best.

What you want to do to start out it finely chop your peppermint leaves and place them in a jar. Using the same ratio from the other recipes, poor the vodka and water on top and let sit for at least three weeks. Periodically shake up the jar so that all of the alcohol and water mixture gets infused. After making your peppermint extract try your hand at making peppermint candy or mints to pass out to friends!

4. Strawberry


For wonderfully fruitful dishes all year around it’s smart to make your own strawberry extract. You can add this extract to any sweet dish you are making, you can even put it in drinks! Depending on how much you want to make you’ll need to adjust these measurements, but to make a decent sized batch start out with one pound of fresh strawberries. Cut them into thin slices and discard the green top. In a medium saucepan bring the strawberries and a 1 cup of water to a boil. Sprinkle in a 1/2 of a cup of organic coconut or regular granulated sugar and let simmer for another 30 minutes at reduced heat.

After 30 minutes strain the strawberry mixture through a cheese cloth to get out any lumps and clumps. Put the liquid back into the saucepan and let simmer until it turns into a syrup. Allow it to cool and you’re ready to package and store it, just be careful–this stuff is sticky! If you want to use other berries this will work great with a mixture as well.

3. Lavender Scrub & Oil


Lavender scrub is so soothing it’ll have you bed ready in no time, considering it’s known for it’s stress relieving properties. First you need to start by making some lavender infused oil with dried lavender and olive oil or coconut oil. Take all of the lavender flowers and submerse them in the oil and let them sit and infuse for three to six weeks for maximum absorption. Drain the oil in a cheesecloth and discard the lavender flowers and you have your oil.

The next step is mixing some dried lavender flowers and two cups of your choice of granulated sugar together. Mix in your desired amount of your homemade oil and cut a vanilla pod down the middle, cleaning out the seeds. Put the seeds into your sugar mixture, add some coconut oil until it’s a paste consistency, and combine everything evenly. Let the mixture sit for about a week for maximum smell potential before use.

2. Garlic Olive Oil


Flavored oils can get a little pricey in stores because of how beautiful and tempting they look when they’re packaged. But you can easily make these at home! Get some of your favorite organic olive oil, garlic, and a medium sauce pan. Chop up the garlic into thin slices and heat them in a pan until they get fragrant. Next, add the olive oil and let it heat over medium heat until it gets pungent, but be careful not the overheat and burn the oil (if it’s smoking, you’ve gone too far). Let it cool and steep over night for the best garlic flavor and remember this stuff just gets better and better with time, if it’ll last that long. And remember– you can use any spice or flavoring to any oil and it’ll infused and steep over time just remember to heat up the oil and it will enhance the flavor.

1. Alcohol Free Vanilla Extract


Although it is a small amount of alcohol used in the process some no bake items can have a left over rawness to them due to this. If this has ever happened to you or you would prefer to try making it without the booze, you’re in luck. It takes a bit longer and a tad more work it’s still pretty simple. Start by cutting and gutting 5 vanilla beans like in the first recipe and put them in a bowl with a cup of water and a 1/4 tsp of salt. Store the combination in a tightly sealed container because you’re going to be shaking it vigorously once a day for four weeks. After the first four weeks start shaking it about three times a week for another five weeks. The alcohol is what speeds up the infusing process and without it the salt and a little elbow grease just need a little more time.