In the late 1800s, one of the first synthetic food items reproduced was vanillin, the compound that gives natural vanilla its signature flavor. This cheap fake flavoring replaced the high cost of the precious Vanilla orchid bean.
Today, much of our food has been stripped of nutrients that are now replaced with synthetic flavors. Learn how to make your own natural flavoring extracts. All you will need is alcohol, the raw ingredients, and a little patience.
Natural flavoring extracts make a great gift for cooks, bakers, and craft cocktail makers. Fruit, nuts, herbs, spices, and edible flowers can be used for flavoring extracts. I have made some unique flavors from the abundance growing in my garden including rose, lavender, fennel, pomegranate, and grapefruit. This post will focus on the most common flavors found in our kitchens and recipe books, orange, lemon, vanilla, and cinnamon.
First, use only quality organic ingredients. The alcohol will draw out the flavor and any chemicals used during the harvest. Not only is this bad for you, but it will also change the taste. Next, use 80 proof alcohols for extraction. I prefer rum for sweeter flavors like orange and vanilla and vodka for sharper flavors like lemon and cinnamon. Finally, utilize glass jars with tight-fitting lids that will not leak when shaken.
Lemon and orange flavorings are made from the rind, not the fruit inside. Use a zester or finely slice the peel. The zest from 1 medium-sized lemon or orange is enough for 10 ounces or less of alcohol. 2 vanilla beans sliced lengthwise and 5 cinnamon sticks are sufficient for the same amount of alcohol. Place ingredients in a jar and cover with alcohol, label, and date. Shake the jar daily and keep out of direct sunlight. Sample the extracts in 2 to 3 weeks for flavor. Leave longer for a more intense taste. Once the desired taste is achieved, pour into smaller 2-ounce glass bottles and give to your favorite people.
Alcohol is a preservative. Natural Flavoring Extracts will last for many years.
One great way to enjoy the variety of flavors is to make a fresh batch of whipped cream from either heavy whipping cream or coconut cream (vegan). Once whipped, divide into smaller portions, separate into several bowls and add a teaspoon of extract. This will allow you to taste the flavor profile of each. Enjoy!