DIY Home + Garden homemade mint extract recipe (3 of 3)

Published on May 21st, 2012 | by Julie Finn

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How-to: Make Homemade Mint Extract

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homemade mint extract, ready to steep in a dark place

Is your garden overrun with mint?

Yeah, mine, too.

Fortunately, there is a good use for every single sprig of that generous bounty of mint. For instance, if you’ve ever purchased mint extract for cooking or as an ingredient in your homemade bath and beauty supplies, then you know that mint extract is pricey, and organic mint extract is pricier.

Read on to see this easy, nearly effortless way to make as much of your own mint extract as you could ever want:

loosely pack the container with muddled mint leavesFirst, harvest enough mint leaves to fill your airtight container of choice when loosely packed. While you could sort between your mint varieties, I usually use the “mutt” approach and take them all–my mint extract includes peppermint, chocolate mint, and a little spearmint. While I’m picking through the leaves and rinsing them, I like to sanitize my container, either in a boiling water bath or in the dishwasher–although I’ve never heard of someone becoming ill from consuming or using mint extract, I always sanitize food-bearing containers, and it’s especially important to me to do so if what I’m preparing will be stored at room temperature, as this mint extract will be.

As you fill you container with mint, take care to bruise each leaf, by squeezing it or crumpling it or rubbing it between your fingers. This “muddling” will allow the oils in the mint to better leach into the vodka (did I mention that there will be vodka?!?). To save time, you may coarsely chop the leaves instead, but not too thinly, because you don’t want them to be difficult to sieve out of the vodka(!) later.

You don’t want to overpack your container for two reasons: 1) If the vodka can’t easily reach all of the leaves, then they can’t contribute their oils, and 2) if the container is too full of leaves, then they may uncrumple over time and sit higher in the container than the level of vodka. Leaves exposed to air at room temperature will spoil, ruining your entire mixture.

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About the Author

I'm a writer, crafter, Zombie Preparedness Planner, and homeschooling momma of two kids who will hopefully someday transition into using their genius for good, not the evil machinations and mess-making in which they currently indulge. I'm interested in recycling and nature crafts, food security, STEM education, and the DIY lifestyle, however it's manifested--making myself some underwear out of T-shirts? Done it. Teaching myself guitar? Doing it right now. Visit my blog Craft Knife for a peek at our very weird handmade homeschool life; my etsy shop Pumpkin+Bear for a truly odd number of rainbow-themed beeswax pretties; and my for links to articles about poverty, educational politics, and this famous cat who lives in my neighborhood.



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  • Kylee

    This looks great. But i don’t drink so…………… …..what could I use OTHER then vodka. This would help alot.

    • http://glueandglitter.com/main Becky Striepe

      Extracts are all alcohol-based, even the chemically flavored ones you buy in the store. If you wouldn’t use the leftover vodka, you can pick up a smaller bottle so you’ll use the whole thing for the extract.

      • http://www.craftknife.blogspot.com Julie Finn

        Does anybody besides me remember the episode of Family Ties in which Tom Hanks played Alex Keaton’s drunk uncle, and Alex caught him sneaking into the kitchen in the middle of the night to drink their vanilla extract? I can’t think of any other solvent that would be food-grade AND non-alcoholic, alas. There’s a debate over at my dying dried pasta post, however–

        http://craftingagreenworld.com/2009/07/24/how-to-dye-dried-pasta-in-bright-happy-colors/

        –about whether vodka could work as a solvent for THAT instead of the rubbing alcohol that I used. You could use your leftover vodka to run the experiment for us!

        • http://glueandglitter.com/main Becky Striepe

          Julie I swear to you that Dave and I were JUST talking about that episode the other day! I can’t remember why it came up, but he tracked that scene down on YouTube for me:

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OlLvS1vH9Tk

    • http://na infinity fools most

      you could try a fruit vinegar,I use plum,and dont drink either.)))

  • http://yeshasettler.blogspot.com/ Devo K

    I’ve tried this in the past and I end up with a muddy-looking jar and a foul-tasting brew… I would LOVE to figure out how to make this work because I can’t get mint extract easily or cheaply in Israel and I LOVE chocolate chip mint brownies…

    • http://glueandglitter.com/main Becky Striepe

      I hope Julie’s tips are helpful for ya! From what you’re describing, maybe this would be most helpful?

      “if the container is too full of leaves, then they may uncrumple over time and sit higher in the container than the level of vodka. Leaves exposed to air at room temperature will spoil, ruining your entire mixture.”

    • http://www.craftknife.blogspot.com Julie Finn

      Israel is a warmer climate than Indiana, so it’s perfectly possible that your climate is too warm for steeping the extract at room temperature. If it was me, I’d try steeping the extract in the refrigerator, and I’d only try a small amount, so that I wouldn’t waste a ton of vodka. Another possibility would be, as Becky suggests, that some mint leaves are getting exposed to air and thus spoiling the entire batch; for that, you could fashion a mesh screen that you could insert into your Mason jar, kind of like a French press, to hold the leaves down–again, I’d try only a small portion to experiment with if it was me. If you find something that works (or doesn’t work!), definitely comment back and tell me!

    • http://na infinity fools most

      you got to keep the leaves BELOW the level of the liquid at all times.OR else mud and foul smells result.)))

  • Amy

    I am currently trying this. What color should the extract be? Mine turned brown within a day, but I’m not sure if that is a bad thing. It’s only been in the cabinet for about 4 days now.

    • http://www.craftknife.blogspot.com Julie Finn

      Open it up and smell it–is it starting to smell minty? If it is, then it’s probably okay. If it smells ugly or off, then it’s not okay. Next, taste a little taste, just a touch of it to your tongue–is it starting to taste minty, or even still like vodka? If it is, then it’s probably okay. If it tastes off or soured, then rinse out your mouth and you’ll be okay. Four days, though, is such a small amount of time–I’d give it a couple of weeks before I checked up on it at all. If leaves aren’t sticking up above the level of alcohol and getting exposed to air, then it’s probably fine.

  • http://www.craftknife.blogspot.com Julie Finn

    I put up another batch of extract about a month ago, when I wrote this post, and it’s coming along great. I’ll figure out how to post a picture in the comments, or I’ll add it to the end of my original post, so that you can see what it’s supposed to look like after a month.

  • Aichilik

    mint is an oil, and many websites mention allowing the oil to separate from the vodka. Have you found this to happen?

  • lori

    is it bad that it is made with alcohol ? Like if you were to use in drinks for your kids or on their bodies and hair ? I would love to try and make this for people as a gift and for myself but everyone I know has kids so I want to make sure the alcohol would be ok for the kids.. :) this is my first time growing mint and making it..

    • http://glueandglitter.com/main Becky Striepe

      In general with extracts, the amount you’re adding to a recipe is so small, the alcohol would be pretty negligible. It should be fine, but your doctor would be able to tell you better than I can.

  • http://www.luciarome.com lucia

    This is wonderful for making homemade Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream! Thanks for sharing!

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  • Jim Carver

    It just needs to be clean, you don’t have to sanitize everything because vodka is 40% ethanol. Actually a 5% alcohol solution wouldn’t be harmful because it would turn to vinegar over time.

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