Whiskey Extracts: Vanilla, Almond, Lemon


Every New Year’s Eve, I reflect on the past year and think about the changes I want to make in the upcoming year. These yearly resolutions can be compared to babies- fun to make but very difficult to maintain. But I’m hoping that this most recent series of recipes will inspire me to stick to a few of my resolutions, like becoming more connected to my food. This means a lot more cooking from scratch, getting creative with new cooking styles, and being mindful of the ingredients…

To kick of 2015, I want to share with you 3 homemade extract recipes. For those who may not be familiar with extracts- it’s a substance made by extracting a part of a raw material, typically by using a solvent (like ethanol). And It just so happens that Pittsburgh ethanol is kind of our thing. Pittsburgh has a local distillery, Wigle Whiskey, that is committed to using only the best ingredients for their tasty spirits. Their passion for local, organic ingredients is so inspiring for people like us who love to cook with great ingredients, like booze…

These aren’t going to be your typical, vodka-based extracts. Vodka is distilled to literally taste like nothing. Our goal is to always increase flavor in our cooking with every ingredients that we use, therefore; we chose Wigle’s White Wheat Whiskey to be the foundation. It will give these extracts a beautiful depth of flavor that’s unparalleled to none. Plus, this homemade version will save you a ton of money- another resolution checked-off with this project. Here’s to a healthier, happier, and inspired 2015!

Vanilla Extract

final wigle van

Materials

  • 1 bottle or jar with lid that holds over 8.5 oz
  • knife

Ingredients

  • 8 oz White Wheat Whiskey
  • 4 whole vanilla beans

vanilla beans 2

Directions

  1. Wash bottle/jar thoroughly
  2. Slice Vanilla beans down the center (this will expose the vanilla bean seeds)
  3. Cut vanilla bean pods in half
  4. Put vanilla bean pods into bottle/jar
  5. Pour White Wheat Whiskey into bottle (pods must be covered by whiskey at all times)
  6. Cover with lid and shake vigorously
  7. Store in a cool, dark place
  8. Shake once a day for at least 6 weeks. Preferably aim for 2-3 months
  9. Once it reaches the desired taste- strain and discard pods and seeds OR just pour a small portion off the top for use and allow it to continue steeping

pour vanilla

Price break down

1.42/oz for ORGANIC vanilla extract

VS.

2.80/oz for NON-ORGANIC vanilla extract

So it would cost you $70.84 of store bought vanilla extract to get 25.3 oz (that’s the amount in 1 large bottle of White Wheat Whiskey). The same amount of organic vanilla extract is 36.00 ($30 bottle/white whiskey and $6/12 vanilla beans. If you do a ton of baking with vanilla extract, then this is will be a huge money saver for you!

vanilla bean open

All this talk of money may have you wondering why whole vanilla bean pods are so @#$*% expensive. Here’s what we found out: Vanilla beans are incredibly labor intensive. It can take anywhere from over a year to three years for the plant to produce the bean pods. The beans have to stay on the vine for 9 months before they’re harvested. Then the beans are picked, cured and dried, and have to rest before they are available for purchase. That’s a ton of work but there’s nothing that can compare to the fresh, scrumptious taste of natural vanilla.

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Almond Extract

new almond

Materials

  • 1 bottle or jar with lid that holds over 8.5 oz
  • knife

Ingredients

  • 8 oz White Wheat Whiskey
  • 6 whole, raw almonds

chopping almonds

Directions

  1. Wash bottle/jar thoroughly. Set aside
  2. In a small sauce pan, boil water
  3. Add almonds to boiling water for a few seconds then immediately drain
  4. Run almonds under cold water until cooled
  5. Using your nails, peel off almond skin
  6. Chop skinless almonds into small pieces
  7. Put almonds pieces into the clean bottle/jar
  8. Pour White Wheat Whiskey into bottle with chopped almonds
  9. Cover with lid and shake vigorously
  10. Store in a cool, dark place
  11. Shake once a day for at least 6 weeks. Preferably aim for 2-3 months
  12. Once it reaches the desired taste- strain and discard the almond bits OR just pour a small portion off the top for use and allow it to continue steeping

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Lemon Extract

lemon extract with whiskey

Materials

  • 1 bottle or jar with lid that holds over 8.5 oz
  • microplane zester

Ingredients

  • 8 oz White Wheat Whiskey
  • 2 lemons

lemon zest

Directions

  1. Wash bottle/jar thoroughly
  2. Wash lemons thoroughly
  3. Zest the lemons (make sure not to include any of the bitter pith-white part)
  4. Put lemon zest into bottle
  5. Pour White Wheat Whiskey into bottle with lemon zest
  6. Cover with lid and shake vigorously
  7. Store in a cool, dark place
  8. Shake once a day for at least 6 weeks. Preferably aim for 2-3 months
  9. Once it reaches the desired taste- strain and discard lemon zest OR just pour off a small portion for use and allow it to continue steeping

lemon alcohol

Now we have 3 big bottles of natural extracts that will be ready to dig into in a short few months. As time goes on, the colors and flavors will deepen. And you don’t have to stop here, you can make mint, orange, pistachio, rose, and cinnamon exacts (just to name a few). Really, the possibilities are endless.  Here’s to a flavorful, creative, and healthier 2015!

whiskey extracts

Cheers N’at, Devon and Tim

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