How to extract mint oils from leaves

How to extract mint oils from leaves

What is Mint?

Mint or Mentha is a herbal plant that belongs to the Lamiaceae family, which includes around 20 plant species. Peppermint and spearmint are the most popular verities of mint.

Fresh or dried mint is used in many dishes, beverages, and infusions. From the time of ancient Egypt, people have been making use of different species of mint plants for medicine and infusion.

Mint is easy to grow and hard to kill. It is easily available in most parts of the world. However, if you don’t have immediate availability of this herb, then you can use a mint substitute in your recipe. Fortunately, there are a few good mint alternatives that give similar flavor and aroma.

Mint Vs. Peppermint

What is the difference between mint and peppermint?

The name mint commonly refers to all species of mint like peppermint, spearmint, lemon mint, basil mint, water-mint, and others.

Mint is a perennial and wide-growing herb that grows wild. Spearmint and peppermint are the most commonly used verities of mint in cooking and medication. Of course, each variety of mint has its own unique flavor and aroma.

Peppermint is a hybrid mint, a cross between water-mint and spearmint. It contains a significant amount of menthol that makes its flavor stronger and more pronounced than other verities of mint.

Flavor and Aroma

Primarily, mint has a mild sweetness and produces a lingering cooling effect on the tongue. Lamiaceae herbs have a mentolic aroma. Fresh mint leaves have more flavor and scent but dried leaves too retain some of it.

Overall, peppermint is herbaceous, cooling, minty, and having a sweet candy menthol-like nuance.

Spearmint is both sweet and minty with ample carvone in it. Spearmint doesn’t provide a cooling sensation on par with peppermint as it contains only 0.05% mentanol.

Uses and Benefits

Mint is excellent for flavoring smoothies, juices, and all types of beverages. Works well as a complementary ingredient to savory flavors in a variety of dishes as well.

Just cut the fresh mint leaves in ribbons and add them to recipes. A stalk with few tender leaves makes a wonderful topping on desserts and cold beverages. Similarly, dried mint leaves are a good addition to stew or sauce as it simmers. Mint tea is a herbal tea made by infusing mint leaves in hot water that provides several health benefits.

The mint extract works well to give a minty flavor to confections, baked goods, or hot chocolate.

Fresh leaves of mint are a flavoring ingredient worthy to use in spaghetti sauce, pesto, salad, or even add to chicken dishes.

In short, its minty flavor can make many common dishes more interesting and delicious.

Mint Substitute

Mint, especially peppermint and spearmint, is easy to grow and commonly found in most parts of the world. However, you might require a quick emergency substitute for mint leaves on some occasions. By happy chance, you can easily find a similar herb as a substitution for both fresh and dry mint leaves. Here are a few replacements for it:

1. Basil

Basil belongs to the mint family of plants. Sweet basil (common basil) is sweet and slightly pungent like the spearmint.

The finely chopped leaves of sweet basil have a close similarity to mint in appearance and flavor. The compound ‘linalool’ present in basil produces a mild peppery and floral flavor which has some similarity to the menthol in mint.

In fact, many chefs use basil and mint interchangeably, especially in savory dishes. Sweet basil works well in sweet dishes in place of mint.

Just like mint, sweet basil leaves are used for flavoring smoothies and beverages.

Use sweet basil leaves in a one-to-one replacement for mint leaves.

2. Marjoram

Like basil, marjoram also belongs to the mint family of plants. The primary flavor compounds in marjoram like sabinene and linalool produce a woody, floral and sweet taste. The delicate flavor of marjoram possesses the menthol properties associated with mint.

In an emergency, you can conveniently use marjoram as a substitute for mint, especially in savory dishes. This herb may also work well in pasta, soups, and vegetable dishes in place of mint.

3. Peppermint extract

Peppermint extract is an herbal extract of peppermint. It mostly consists of essential oils of peppermint leaves.

This extract is commercially used for flavoring candies, beverages, baked goods. You can also use peppermint extract as a flavoring in some dishes. It is easy to make peppermint oil extract by soaking mint leaves in vodka.

If you are buying peppermint extract, get only the ones labeled as pure and natural.

Mint extract has a more concentrated flavor stronger than the leaves.

Just 4 drops of peppermint extract or 1 drop of peppermint essential oil are enough to replace one tablespoon of chopped fresh mint leaves.

Substitute for Dried Mint

The best substitute for dried mint is fresh mint leaves. Use two tablespoons of chopped fresh mint to replace 1 tablespoon of dried mint.

Other than fresh mint, you can use dry basil or parsley to replace dried mint. They may not give the exact flavor of mint but they provide earthy flavor to your recipe.

The Bottom Line

Mint is an aromatic herb produced by several species of the mint plant. This sweet and menthol-flavored herb is a wonderful ingredient in several dishes including smoothies, beverages, sauces, tea, and dishes both sweet and savory.

I would recommend basil or mint extract as the best mint substitute. You may also use marjoram, tarragon, or rosemary to replace mint in a pinch.

How to extract mint oils from leaves

I love the idea of making DIY versions of ingredients that you thought you could only buy in a store. What I love even more is when the homemade version is just as good, if not better than store-bought; that’s exactly what you get with these Homemade Extracts including my vanilla extract recipe. And there’s no doubt about it that there is something very satisfying about making and using them in your baked goods.

Where Does Vanilla Extract Come From?

Vanilla extract is simply vanilla and vodka, and a little bit of time. In fact, for all Homemade Extracts, all you need is Vodka and your flavor and that’s it. You can make any flavor your heart desires, like pure vanilla extract, as long as you have an alcohol or food-safe vegetable glycerin substitute.

Do I Have To Use Alcohol To Make Extracts?

Yes, most extracts contain alcohol but you can use an alternative method in the recipe below that requires glycerine and water. It won’t get you drunk and you won’t be able to taste it either.

The Difference Between Pure Vanilla Extract And Imitation Vanilla Extract

Pure vanilla extract uses vanilla pods . Imitation vanilla extract, which is technically vanilla essence, has never seen a vanilla pod in its life. While some people say they can’t taste the difference, I believe that using good quality ingredients is essential to making any great baked goods.

Do I Have To Use Vanilla Pods To Make Homemade Vanilla Extract?

Yes, the pod and the seeds have all of the flavors. You can buy vanilla pods on Amazon, and you may also find good value in a store near you.

How Long Will Flavor Extracts Last?

Indefinitely. Store them in labeled jars and keep them away from heat and out of direct sunlight. Buy the bottles I use on Amazon.

Homemade Extract Taste And Consistency

When you first make your Homemade Extracts they will look like this, with no color and clear.

How to extract mint oils from leaves

After 5 weeks or so they will change color, develop a much stronger flavor, and they will be ready to use in your baking.

How to extract mint oils from leaves

What You Need To Make Extracts At Home

  • Bottles
  • Labels
  • Vanilla Pods/Beans
  • Orange Peel
  • Lemon Peel
  • Mint

How To Make Vanilla Extract

There’s simply no need for a substitute for vanilla extract when you can easily make the real thing and have it for months. In addition to being a must-have for baking, vanilla extract can also be the perfect almond extract substitute.

And while it takes a few weeks to be ready to use, this homemade vanilla extract recipe is delicious.

  1. Cut vanilla beans in half, splitting open each to expose vanilla seeds on the inside.
  2. Place vanilla beans in a glass bottle.
  3. Add vodka up to the bottle’s neck.
  4. Seal tightly and store in a cool place for 5 to 6 weeks.
  5. Tilt the bottle upside down every few days to mix the liquid.

How to extract mint oils from leaves

How To Make Orange Extract

Homemade Orange Extract can be used in icing, buttercream, custards, and batters like cupcakes to give that perfect hint of orange flavor. You can also use it as a lemon extract substitute.

  1. Peel thin strips of zest from half of the orange.
  2. Place zest inside a glass bottle.
  3. Fill bottle up to the neck with vodka.
  4. Seal tightly and store in a cool place for 5 to 6 weeks.
  5. Tilt the bottle upside down every few days to mix the liquid.

How to extract mint oils from leaves

How To Make Lemon Extract

Homemade Lemon Extract will make a great addition to cakes, icing, and even frozen desserts like sorbet. All you need are fresh lemons and a little bit of zest from the lemon peels.

  1. Peel thin strips of zest from your organic lemon.
  2. Place zest into your glass bottle.
  3. Fill bottle up to the neck with vodka.
  4. Seal tightly and store in a cool place for 5 to 6 weeks.
  5. Tilt the bottle upside down every few days to mix the liquid.

How to extract mint oils from leaves

How To Make Mint Extract

Homemade Mint Extract can be added to whipped cream, frozen desserts like ice cream and sorbets and even on a bowl of fresh fruit for added flavor.

  1. Stuff mint leaves inside a glass bottle.
  2. Using a chopstick, lightly crush leaves inside the bottle.
  3. Fill bottle up to the neck with vodka.
  4. Store for 5-6 weeks in a cool place.
  5. Tilt the bottle upside down every few days.
  6. At the end of the 5-6 weeks, pour mint extract into another container using a sieve.

How to extract mint oils from leaves

How To Make Almond Extract

What’s great about homemade almond extract is that you can use it as a vanilla extract substitute or vanilla extract replacement if you’re out of vanilla pods.

  1. Chop raw, unsalted almonds.
  2. Place almonds in a large jar.
  3. Fill with vodka up to an inch over the almonds.
  4. Chop and blanch almonds and place them in bottles.
  5. Strain the contents of the jar into the bottles.
  6. Store in a cool dark place for 5-6 weeks.

Get more of my Bold Baking Basics recipes here:

How to extract mint oils from leaves

Mint oil has a number of uses––it can be used to add a minty flavor to drinks, add mint flavor to food such as chocolates and icing. In this article, we will cover how to make peppermint oil from a peppermint plant that you’ve grown at home.

What You’ll Need To Make Peppermint Oil

  • Dried mint leaves & 90–120 proof grain alcohol or fresh mint leaves & 180–190 proof grain alcohol
  • Sealable jar
  • Strainer
  • Brown glass container
  • Eyedropper

How to make peppermint oil

There are 5 quick and relatively easy steps for making peppermint oil. You’ll find that once you get the hang of it, the process is simple and the results are awesome.

Step One: Select a Liquid to Use in Extraction

Vodka, or another high-proof grain alcohol, is perfect for this, since it has both water and alcohol to dissolve the oils. While cider apple vinegar or glycerin can be used instead, the final tincture will be much less strong and have a shorter shelf life. Homemade tinctures, just like vanilla extract you would buy in a store, are normally used in such small doses that the alcohol does not have a noticeable effect.

For dried mint leaves, use vodka containing 45–60% alcohol (90–120 proof).

For fresh mint leaves, since they already contain water, use vodka or Everclear with 90–95% alcohol (180–190 proof).

Step Two: Chop or Bruise the Mint Leaves

Chop a bundle of fresh mint leaves into two or three pieces, or mash the leaves with a clean cup base, so more oils will be exposed to the liquid. Dried mint leaves can be crumbled by hand instead, or left mostly whole.

Wash fresh mint leaves before chopping.

There’s no need to remove the stems, but throw away any slick or dark leaves, as these may be rotting.

Step Three: Pack the Mint and Liquid into a Sealable Jar

Stuff the jar with mint, leaving as little as ½ inch (1.25 centimeters) of space if you want the option for a stronger tincture. You may use a smaller amount of mint leaves if you like, but you may end up with a less aromatic or flavorful result. Once the mint is in, pour the alcohol or other liquid into the jar, completely covering the leaves. Close the lid of the jar tightly.

The leaves may float at first. You can try to push them down with a spoon, but they should sink on their own after a few days.

Step Four: Let the Jar Sit for Several Weeks, Shaking Occasionally

The exact length of time simply depends on how strong you want your tincture to be, but it usually takes between four and eight weeks. Most people prefer to store the jar in a dark place, since sunlight could lower the tincture shelf life. Once or twice a week, shake the jar for a couple minutes to speed up the dissolving process.

You can taste a drop of the mixture to decide whether it’s strong enough for you.

Step Five: Strain the Liquid into a Brown Glass Container

Pour the liquid through a coffee filter to remove the leaves and sediment. Store the tincture in a brown glass container to protect it from sunlight and increase its shelf life. It can last for six months or more, although it may lose its potency gradually.

If the tincture has a vodka smell to it, or isn’t as strong as you would like, leave the jar out for another with a fresh coffee filter or cloth over the lid. Some of the alcohol will evaporate.

Uses for peppermint oil

Once you have your peppermint oil in hand, it’s time to put it to work! There are a few really awesome uses for peppermint oil. These are some of my favorite.

Add a Couple Drops to Hot Drinks

Stir one to three drops into hot chocolate, hot water, or herbal tea. If your tincture is weak, you can add more. This adds up to an insignificant amount of alcohol, so don’t worry about getting tipsy.

Drinking peppermint can help with some forms of indigestion, but avoid it if you have acid reflux (heartburn), or a hernia.

Flavor Your Baking Recipes

Roughly 1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) of your mint extract is enough to flavor a pan of brownies, or a batch of fudge or meringues. You may need to experiment with the amount used, since homemade tinctures vary in strength. For some recipes, such as frosting, it’s easy to mix in a little at a time and test by taste.

Repel Insects

Peppermint extract can repel ants, spiders, flies, and moths, but has little effect on mice or rats. Dampen cotton balls with the tincture and place them around the area where pests were found. Replace the cotton balls once or twice a week.

Keep the cotton balls out of reach of pets.

Dilute it With Oil to Use on Your Skin

Mix a few drops in sweet almond oil, olive oil, shea butter, or any other skin-safe oil to make a salve. Rub it onto your chest to help with congestion, or to sore muscles or joints. Rub it onto your forehead and temples to help relieve pain from headaches.

Some extra tips

For the highest content of oils in plants, pick them around 10 am, after the dew is gone, but before the sun gets too hot.

If sediment appears in your tincture, strain it a second time through a coffee filter.

– This recipe makes a tincture, which is not as strong as an essential oil. Essential oils are usually made using a lengthy process of distillation by steam, not viable for the average home.

I’ve got some mint in the yard (I think it’s apple mint, as the leaves are very fuzzy and rounded) from which I’d like to make mint extract. No specific use in mind (except perhaps insect repellent), just a kind of home chemistry experiment.

I’ve read that there are basically two ways to do this. One involves boiling the leaves, condensing the steam, and separating the oil. But the simplest way seems to be to steep the leaves in 80-proof vodka for about a month.

I have some questions:

  1. Is there something special (chemistry-wise) about alcohol that makes it more effective than other substances for extracting the oil?
  2. How strong would this “mint extract” be? It seems to me like I’d end up with mint-flavored vodka. Would the result be drinkable straight?
  3. After doing this, could I then freeze the result to separate the oil from the vodka?

4 Answers 4

Why Alcohol?

Alcohol is used for extracts because the flavor compounds (plant oils) you are trying to extract do not easily dissolve in water. Alcohol (typically bourbon or vodka) will do the trick. Make sure you use +80 proof because it also acts as a preservative.

Making Mint Extract

To make an extract, tear up or coarsely chop and bruise washed mint leaves into a measuring cup (you’ll end up with about twice the volume of extract as you have leaves). Transfer the leaves to a glass container with a tight-fitting lid. Add about twice the alcohol (by volume) as you had leaves. Cover and shake.

The mint leaves will tend to float to the top, but give it a chance. After a few days, they’ll start to bog down with alcohol and sink. Shake it every few days or so. After a month, you’ll have mint extract. Strain the leaves and store.

Adjusting the Strength of Your Extract

The longer you let the leaves steep, the stronger the extract will become until all the oils are essentially spent. You can sample the extract along the way until you get something to your liking. If you want something stronger, you can add fresh leaves to your strained extract and continue the process. There’s a limit though; as the alcohol become saturated, you’ll get diminishing returns by adding more leaves.

Freezing the extract will not congeal the oils for further separation. They’re essentially dissolved in the alcohol (unlike water + oil) and the alcohol will not freeze. Extracts are typically too concentrated to drink straight. For all that effort, it’s better just to crush a few leaves directly into a drink with whatever ingredients will make it a proper cocktail.

Boiled Leaves isn’t Really Mint Extract

The boiling water method you mentioned above wont achieve the same results. Even if concentrated, the flavor compounds in extracts are typically somewhat volatile (which is why you add them near the end of cooking). You’re basically making concentrated, flavored mint tea… but it isn’t really an extract. And without the alcohol acting as a preservative, you’re mint tea will have a somewhat limited shelf life. Even distilling the volatile oils by boiling and condensing into a liquid might get you pure mint oil, but that would likely need very specialized equipment.

How to extract mint oils from leaves

How to extract mint oils from leaves

Is your garden overrun with mint?

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 extract mint oils from leaves

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.

How to extract mint oils from leaves

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!

Disclaimer: Some links found on this page might be affiliate links. If you click an affiliate link and make a purchase, I might earn a commission. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Extracted oils from plants, fruits, and herbs are growing in popularity. They are used for a number of things, from aromatherapy to medicinal applications to their use in cooking as well as in cosmetics and perfumes.

Plant oil extractions may seem complicated to pursue at home, but it is much easier than you may think.

There are many different ways to extract the oil from plants and the process has to match up to the different types of plants and flowers being used. Each method offers you the best way to achieve the essence of the plant so you are left with the most potent form of the plant.

What Exactly Are Extracted Oils?

You may have heard of extractions from plants called essential oils. These liquids have been referred to in several ways but what it boils down to is they are the strongest version of a plant in a liquid form. It is suggested that essential oils be diluted with water before they reach their application level.

It may sound as though these oils that are derived from plants are light and natural, but they are actually exactly the opposite. Each extraction is bringing you a concentrated version of the actual plant.

When used in cooking, for example, essential oils have been proven to be 75 times stronger than herbs that have been dried.

Some extractions are used for their scents and others are used for their flavoring abilities. Most extractions have to be combined with what is called a carrier oil and others must be diluted before using.

As much as you may be tempted, don’t take a favorite essential oil that you have extracted and just add a few drops to your bathwater.

A carrier oil is a neutral oil that becomes the base of the extracted oil. Some carrier oils include sunflower, grapeseed, olive, almond, avocado, and jojoba.

There are different levels of dilution using carrier oils that range from one percent up to five percent. A one percent dilution would be six drops of extracted oil mixed with an ounce of the carrier oil.

What Are Extracted Oils Used For?

One of the most common uses for extracted oils is for aromatherapy. It can also be used to treat many health-related conditions but their effectiveness has not been definitely proven.

In many instances, extracted oils are used in cooking as they offer stronger flavors than regular extracts.

Here are some popular uses for extracted oils:

  • Choose your favorite fragrance and keep your home smelling fresh all the time. Rose, bergamot and even any of the citrus combinations that are used during the holidays will keep a steady stream of that delicious aroma flowing on a steady stream. You will no longer need to spray a fake air freshener to make it smell good in your home.
  • If you have trouble sleeping, you may want to spray some lavender, neroli, or chamomile oils on your pillowcase. You can even keep a container of any of these oils open on your nightstand.
  • Relieving stress and anxiety has been achieved by rubbing oil extracts, such as bergamot, lemon, geranium, or sage on your temple area. This is known as one of your pressure points.
  • If you feel like you are overloaded and are even beginning to forget things, spraying a light mist of essential oils can give you an instant boost. A quick sniff or spritz of rosemary, peppermint, or basil can help.
  • Besides their fresh fragrance abilities, citrus essential oils can give you an energy boost. Try any of the following fruits – grapefruit, orange, or lemon. Peppermint oil has been shown to help you when you exercise.
  • When you use oils in place of extracts while cooing, keep in mind that they are much stronger than extracts so you need much less when adding to a recipe. The shelf life of essential oils for cooking is just a couple of months and they should be stored in the refrigerator.

How Do You Extract Oil from Plants?

The practice of extracting oils from plants has been a process that has been practiced since the beginning of time. Most of the ways that were used to extract oil from plants are no longer used. There are ways that you can extract oil from plants in your own home.

Some of the most common methods used to extract oil from plants are steam distillation, oil soak, a cold-press method, and distillation by steam.

Steam Distillation

This is a process where steam goes through the plant leaves to extract the oils. If you plan on extracting plant oils on a regular basis you will need to invest in a still. You can purchase a still online for around $100.

This is the most popular form of extracting oils from your plants. There are also sites online that give you complete instructions on putting your own still together.

Solvent Extraction

The extraction method places the plant materials in a solvent that is called hexane or you can also use ethanol. The plant is soaked for a period of time in order for the oils to be released but you have to check to see exactly which plants can utilize this process.

It is best for plants that do not normally produce a large number of oils or cannot withstand more pressurized processes.

Once the plant is soaked in the solvent it results in a material that is waxy and it is referred to as concrete. As the concrete mixes with alcohol you are left with the essential oils.

Oil Soak

When you use this process of extraction you will put your plants into a container filled with your choice of carrier oil. The plant stays in this container for around two weeks.

At that point, you strain the plant and you are left with essential oil. You should put your essential oils in glass jars that are colored (not clear) and placed in dry places that have a cool temperature.

Make sure you don’t put them in a place that is warm or humid.

Cold Press

In the past, one way of extracting oils from the skin of fruits was through the use of special sponges but currently this process is referred to as mechanical separation.

Cold press machines puncture the rind of the fruit and through centrifugal force, the oil is moved away from the pulp of the plant. The oils are accumulated in a container and used as-is or are combined with carrier oils.

Benefits of Doing Your Own Plant Oil Extractions

While it may take more time and effort on your part to produce your own plant extractions, you will at least know you are definitely getting a quality product at a lesser cost as opposed to going to the store and buying them.

If you are an avid gardener and would like to share the joy and beauty derived from your green thumb, extracting oils from your own plants would make a great gift.

A sweet-smelling spray bottle filled with diluted rose oil would make anyone happy and an array of bottles filled with extract oils from your fragrant herbs will delight everyone who loves to cook.

How to extract mint oils from leaves

Is there any combination better suited than mint and chocolate? I couldn’t think of one either!

How to extract mint oils from leaves

I wanted to make mint extract, but almost everything I could find involved alcohol. Which is fine for baking because the alcohol content bakes out, but I wanted to be able to serve my kids homemade mint hot chocolate. So, I came across this recipe and couldn’t wait to share it with you!

I had mint leaves from my herb garden and harvested them fresh. Take equal parts of apple cider vinegar and water. I did 1/2 cup of each and pour in a Mason jar. If using fresh leaves, rinse and pat dry your leaves. Crush and bruise (this step is important) a 1/2 cup of fresh leaves and dump in the jar with vinegar and water. Put on lid and band and then shake vigorously. Make sure all the leaves are covered in the liquid. If using dried leaves, just a 1/4 cup.

Mint Extract

Put in a dark cool place. I used the shelf in the snack cupboard. Shake the jar every day to help the mint seep into the liquid. Check the strength at two weeks. You can keep it seeping up to six weeks.

How to extract mint oils from leaves

When you’re ready, take a canning funnel and a coffee filter. Place it over a clean Mason jar and pour mint leaves and extract through the filter. (Hold filter in place or tape it before hand) Squeeze leaves to get the last of the extract from them.

If you’d like to make the extract a bit sweeter, you can put jar (Without lid and band) in the microwave and add 1 tablespoon honey. Heat then stir until completely dissolved. If you don’t like the microwave, the stove top and a pot work fine, too. Use in all your baked goods as you would vanilla.

We can’t have just mint extract, we need homemade hot chocolate mix, too!

I combined some online versions for:

The Best Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix!

3 cups non-fat dried instant milk powder

2 cups powdered sugar

1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder

1 cup white chocolate chips

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

1/4 teaspoon salt

How to extract mint oils from leaves

Mix all ingredients in a food processor or blender until well blended. Spoon into Mason jars or glass container. Use 3 tablespoons to 1 cup hot water or milk. Add 1 teaspoon mint extract (or to taste) to hot chocolate. Optional- top with whipped cream and/or marshmallows.

I plan on having a hot chocolate bar on Christmas morning. Complete with sprinkles, cinnamon, nutmeg, and whatever else I can come up with in the next 49 days!

What’s your favorite holiday beverage? Do you make homemade gifts for Christmas?

This post is featured on The Barn Hop and The Better Mom.

I’ve got some mint in the yard (I think it’s apple mint, as the leaves are very fuzzy and rounded) from which I’d like to make mint extract. No specific use in mind (except perhaps insect repellent), just a kind of home chemistry experiment.

I’ve read that there are basically two ways to do this. One involves boiling the leaves, condensing the steam, and separating the oil. But the simplest way seems to be to steep the leaves in 80-proof vodka for about a month.

I have some questions:

  1. Is there something special (chemistry-wise) about alcohol that makes it more effective than other substances for extracting the oil?
  2. How strong would this “mint extract” be? It seems to me like I’d end up with mint-flavored vodka. Would the result be drinkable straight?
  3. After doing this, could I then freeze the result to separate the oil from the vodka?

4 Answers 4

Why Alcohol?

Alcohol is used for extracts because the flavor compounds (plant oils) you are trying to extract do not easily dissolve in water. Alcohol (typically bourbon or vodka) will do the trick. Make sure you use +80 proof because it also acts as a preservative.

Making Mint Extract

To make an extract, tear up or coarsely chop and bruise washed mint leaves into a measuring cup (you’ll end up with about twice the volume of extract as you have leaves). Transfer the leaves to a glass container with a tight-fitting lid. Add about twice the alcohol (by volume) as you had leaves. Cover and shake.

The mint leaves will tend to float to the top, but give it a chance. After a few days, they’ll start to bog down with alcohol and sink. Shake it every few days or so. After a month, you’ll have mint extract. Strain the leaves and store.

Adjusting the Strength of Your Extract

The longer you let the leaves steep, the stronger the extract will become until all the oils are essentially spent. You can sample the extract along the way until you get something to your liking. If you want something stronger, you can add fresh leaves to your strained extract and continue the process. There’s a limit though; as the alcohol become saturated, you’ll get diminishing returns by adding more leaves.

Freezing the extract will not congeal the oils for further separation. They’re essentially dissolved in the alcohol (unlike water + oil) and the alcohol will not freeze. Extracts are typically too concentrated to drink straight. For all that effort, it’s better just to crush a few leaves directly into a drink with whatever ingredients will make it a proper cocktail.

Boiled Leaves isn’t Really Mint Extract

The boiling water method you mentioned above wont achieve the same results. Even if concentrated, the flavor compounds in extracts are typically somewhat volatile (which is why you add them near the end of cooking). You’re basically making concentrated, flavored mint tea… but it isn’t really an extract. And without the alcohol acting as a preservative, you’re mint tea will have a somewhat limited shelf life. Even distilling the volatile oils by boiling and condensing into a liquid might get you pure mint oil, but that would likely need very specialized equipment.