Extracts are one of those things where the moment you realize how simple they are to make, you kick yourself for ever thinking you needed to buy them. This example uses mint, but you could just as easily use vanilla bean, orange peel — you name it.
First, stuff a jar of any size with fresh, washed mint leaves and fill with vodka until all the leaves are completely submerged.
Next, set it and forget it. Leave your leaves to steep for anywhere between 2 weeks and several months.
I’ve found no noticeable difference between leaving my extract in indirect sun or inside a cabinet. The longer your mint sits in the vodka, the more goodness leaches out. It’ll look pretty pooped when it’s given its all, you’ll see.
Now, you can either strain your extract and bottle it — for this reason I like using airplane-sized vodka bottle so that I have something perfectly sized and waiting for me.
Or you can add an extra step and transfer everything to a sauce pan and quickly bring to an almost-boil. This will burn off excess vodka so your extract isn’t pure hooch, but be cautious not to over-heat as you’ll need some alcohol still to act as a preservative. (Safe bet: 60 seconds just below simmering.) Now you can bottle it.
This mint extract is perfect for making homemade mint chocolate chip ice cream.