What do you do when you have a garden full of minty fresh plants that threaten to take over? You make your own homemade mint extract!
I have this garden full of mint. I got a small plant one year from a “friend” and now, I can’t seem to control it. Had I known then what I know now about the invasive-ness of mint… I would go back, and plant it in a large pot, not just allow them to stick in the ground where it “would be pretty”.
Oh, how naive I was about this evasive plant! It went EEEEVEEERRR-EEEEwhere!!!
Anyway, I digress. I decided that I am going to stop complaining about this mint, and go to work using it. I’ve made tea until I can’t drink anymore, and I already have mint jelly nightmares.
So, I decided to try some homemade mint extract. Just like the vanilla extract but with mint leaves instead.
Mint Extract Recipe
- Harvest your leaves by snipping off the stem.
- Wash gently to remove any bugs or dirt. Homegrown mint is a typical place to find cocoons of local bug life.
- Dry thoroughly to remove any water. You can do this by leaving it out at room temperature and running a fan over it to speed up the process.
- Slightly chop to “bruise” leaves to release oils.
- Place clean leaves in a quart sized jar, packing tightly.
- Cover with grain alcohol, such as vodka, leaving 1/2 inch headspace from the top of the jar.
- Cap tightly.
- Store in a cool, dark place for 2-3 weeks, shaking daily.
- After 3 weeks, strain out the plant matter, and bottle your extract.
There are a few things that you can do to ensure that your mint extract turns out to be as high-quality as possible:
- If you stick to using vodka, try to find 100 proof instead of 80 proof. This increases the alcohol content and reduces the water content of the liquor, making for a cleaner extract. Too much water will turn your mint leaves brown and slimy and ruin your batch. If you can get your hands on Everclear, go for that instead of vodka!
- When purchasing the alcohol to use for extracts, you need to consider the quality of it. Yes, the cheapest batch of vodka will work for an extract, but the flavor won’t be as good. Think of your extraction alcohol as cooking wine: sometimes the cheapest doesn’t make the most sense!
- Try mixing different types of mint and other herbs to make combinations you can’t even find in the stores. These extracts are perfect for gifting, instead of the basic extracts that anyone can buy at the local big box store.
Types Of Mint To Use
While peppermint is probably the most common mint to use for extracts, you can grow multiple varities on your homestead and try out different recipes. Remember that you don’t have to use these extracts for baking alone. There are other uses where different mint varieties can shine more than peppermint!
Here are some of the most common varities of mint that you should try:
- Chocolate Mint
- Water Mint
- Apple Mint
I’m not going to list the 600 varities of mint here, but you get the picture! Peppermint, which is the most commonly used mint for extracts, happens to be the highest in methol, the compound which gives mint it’s refreshing essence. Other varities may be lower in menthol and have a different essence when extracted.
That’s why it’s so fun to make more than on type of mint extract!
How To Use Your Mint Extract
Obviously, mint extracts are commonly used in baking. They add the refreshing minty flavor and essence to baked goods that are common in the wintertime around the holidays.
Looking online, you’ll find hundreds, if not thousands, of recipes that call for mint extract. But, the uses hardly stop there!
You can use mint extracts to add spice to your bath. Just a few drops in the tub and your bath becomes more refreshing than ever.
You can use mint extracts in forms of aromatherapy, although essential oils has burst onto the scene as the better alternative (you can make essential oils from mint at home too).
Getting creative with your mint extracts will take them out of the kitchen and put them to use around the house!
How To Store The Mint Extract
Store your mint extract similarly to how you were storing it while making it. Keep it away from hot temperatures and direct sunlight. Since the plant material has all been strained out, you have very little organic material left and alcohol has a long shelf-life by itself.
Under the right conditions, you can expect your mint extract to last around 3-4 years.
Ensure that you don’t expose your extract to too much airflow, keeping the lid on tightly whenever you aren’t using it.
Do You Want More Concentrated Mint Extract?
Have you tried this recipe out? Maybe you weren’t happy with the aroma or flavor of the mint extract and expected more.
There are two things that you can do to ensure you have properly concentrated mint extract.
First, you need to ensure that you pack your jar full of mint leaves. The more leaves you get into the jar the first time, the better chance you have at a strong extract.
Then, when you strain out your plant material, smash it to release the alcohol and oils that are still stored in the leaves. This liquid being smashed out is the most potent of the batch!
Next, you can double-up on the extraction process! After you strain out your first batch, use it to extract for mint essence from another jar of mint leaves. The second jar may be a bit smaller due to having less liquid volume to cover the leaves.
What About An Alcohol-Free Extract?
You may not want an alcohol-based mint extract, but don’t want to go so far as extracting the essential oils from mint with a distillation process.
Luckily, you can substitute the grain alcohol for raw apple cider vinegar, which can also make on the homestead! The process takes about the same amount of time and can be used in the same ways with the added benefits of raw ACV.
The only difference in the alcohol-free extract is that you won’t be storing this one at room temperature. You’ll be storing this vinegar based extract in the refrigerator to keep it fresh and potent.
Other Ideas to Use Your Mint
To see how to make other extracts, including alcohol FREE versions, check out the post here.
Do you make your own extracts? What’s your favorite one to make? Be sure to pin this on Pinterest!
last update: Jan 29th 2021 – Milo Martinovich
Heather’s homesteading journey started in 2006, with baby steps: first, she got a few raised beds, some chickens, and rabbits. Over the years, she amassed a wealth of homesteading knowledge, knowledge that you can find in the articles of this blog.