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!
How to Make Homemade Mint Extract
First, 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.
Pour vodka over the mint leaves in the container, covering all of the mint entirely. Honestly, I have no idea if the quality of vodka is important to the overall quality of the extract, but my rule of thumb is the same as Martha Stewart’s–I purchase the highest quality of ingredients that I can comfortably afford (unless it’s for a children’s party, and then I fully admit that I usually purchase the cheapest ingredients that I can get away with). Because this mint extract is such a massive savings over store-bought mint extract, I can justify purchasing pricey vodka, and because my children will be eating the food and using the soap that we make using the mint extract, the pricey vodka that I purchase is organic.
Next, seal the bottle, set it somewhere dark and cool (I put mine in the basement), and forget about it. Let the extract steep for approximately 6 weeks, then smell a little smell and/or taste a little taste. If the mint doesn’t completely overpower you, it’s fine to let the container sit for as long as it needs to, so just check back in with it every few weeks until you’re happy.
To finish the extract, decant it by pouring it through a small-hole sieve or cheesecloth into another container, until the extract contains no solid matter. The finished extract can be stored in your cupboard for a pretty limitless period of time. In case you don’t happen to need an entire quart of mint extract for your cooking, then consider that mint extract can also be used in a variety of bath and body recipes, including homemade soap, and homemade mint extract, poured into a little jar with a nice label stuck on, makes an excellent gift.
Also? You haven’t truly lived until you’ve eaten homemade mint chocolate chip ice cream, made with homemade mint extract. Yum!