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How to make lemon extract recipe and its uses

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Learn how to make homemade lemon extract to add bright color and flavor to your favorite recipes.

Pure lemon extract is simple to create with two ingredients: lemons and vodka! Of course, homemade lemon extract makes a great gift too!

A few drops add a specific citrus-rich flavor to your baked goods, cooking, and even your skincare beauty products.

Learn how to make the homemade extract and use a lemony flavor any time of the year. Create a unique flavor combination that can be used in sauces, salads, or homemade limoncello.

No matter what you decide to do with your homemade lemon extract, it’s sure to take your culinary creations up a notch!

citrus essence

What is a lemon extract?

Lemon peel extract is a concentrated lemon flavoring made of soaking lemon zest in alcohol. It creates a long-lasting, stable extract that captures lemon taste, aroma, and medicinal properties in a tiny bottle. It adds a citrus flavor to food and beverages. In addition, use it in baking as a substitute for fresh citrus juice.

What kind of lemons do I need?

Any lemon will work. It is a great way to preserve lemons’ taste and aroma if you grow your lemon tree. Similarly, you can turn the lemon peel into a powder with endless uses. However, when buying, select organic lemons as citrus skin may contain traces of pesticides. So if you are trying to extract what’s in the peel, you may pull a few things you didn’t want.

All store-bought citruses (Lisbon, Bearss, Meyer lemons) will work. 

 In this making extract from citruses

How do I prepare the lemons?

When preparing lemons for zesting, starting with a clean fruit is essential. Begin by washing the lemon with warm water and a mild soap or vegetable wash. Next, rinse the surface of the lemon until you have removed dirt and any residue. After drying, you can begin to zest the citrus. Use a ribbon citrus zester or peeler to gently scrape off small zest strips from the outermost peel layer. When doing this, take care to get as little of the white part as possible, as it can get a bitter flavor to your extract. Zesting lemons bring out an intense citric flavor that adds an extra kick to many dishes!

organic lemons
organic lemons

Tips for Making Homemade Extract

  • Use a lemon zester to remove the zester from the outside before squeezing the lemon. It’s harder to remove the zest once you have squeezed the citrus.
  • You can collect the zest in the zip lock bag in a freezer until you have enough.
citrus zester

Ingredients For pure lemon extract recipe

This lemon extract is made with two ingredients:

Freshly zested lemon peel from 3 lemons

Alcohol – 1 cup of vodka

You can use grain alcohol, ethanol, and ethyl alcohol obtainable at a pharmacy, as well as vodka, rum, or brandy. For the most flavorsome citrus essence, go for a mild-tasting alcoholic beverage that won’t get in the way of the lemon flavor. Vodka is my favorite as it has a neutral taste and color. 40-50% alcohol corresponds to 80-90 proof – these are normal concentrations required for crafting extracts or tinctures.

making extract from citruses

How To Make homemade lemon extract

First step – preparing lemons.

Start by washing your lemons thoroughly under lukewarm water and dry them. Then, using a zester, remove the lemon peels from the lemons. Make sure to avoid getting any white pith, as this will give your extract a bitter flavor.

getting zest from lemons
getting zest from lemons

Second step – add alcohol.

Add the zest into a sterilized jar with a plastic lid. Cover the peel entirely with the alcohol of your choice, and shake them well. Tightly seal the jar with a plastic lid or use parchment paper between the metal lid and the jar to avoid any corrosion.

how to make lemon extract

Thirds step – let the mixture infuse.

Place the lemon tincture in a cool, dark place for 4-8 weeks, shaking it every few days to ensure all flavors combine fully. The longer it sits, the stronger the extract will be.

Fourth step – strain the peel.

After 4-8 weeks, strain the peel from the extract into a clean quart-size mason using cheesecloth or a coffee filter. Your lemon extract is now ready to use! Store it in a clean jar in a cool, dark place for up to 5 years.

Can I make lemon peel extract without alcohol?

Sure, replace the alcohol with food-grade liquid glycerin. However, remember that glycerin takes longer to infuse than alcohol so it may need longer than six weeks.

lemon extract step by step tutorial

Other extracts you may want to try.

Mint extract

Chocolate extract

Lavender extract

Coffee extract

Cinnamon extract

Homemade vanilla bean extract

Rose extract

What’s the difference between lemon extract and lemon Juice?

The difference between lemon peel extract and lemon juice is quite significant. Lemon extract is a concentrated flavor derived from the oil of the rinds of lemons that have been macerated in alcohol for a certain period. It has a much more intense flavor than lemon juice and is used to add a hint of citrus to recipes without adding a lot of liquid. On the other hand, lemon juice is freshly squeezed and contains both the sourness and acidity of the fruit itself. It is often used in recipes that require an acidic element, such as salad dressings or marinades. The extract also has a longer shelf life than lemon juice, making it easier to store for longer periods. In summary, while both products can be used in similar applications, they are not interchangeable due to their distinct tastes and consistencies.

Does Lemon Extract Need Refrigeration?

No, the DIY lemon extract does not require refrigeration. The alcohol serves as a preservative, so if stored in a suitable container, it will remain fresh in your pantry. It can last for approximately 3-4 years before beginning to lose its taste and flavor.

What About the Leftover Lemon Juice?

Since the lemons have been stripped of their rinds, they will dehydrate in a few hours. Don’t get rid of them though! Instead, extract the juice and whip up a lemonade, lemon cordial or make your lemon curd.

homemade lemoncello
homemade limoncello

Using the Homemade Lemon Extract

Its refreshing lemony aroma calls for both savory and sweet dishes. It is predominantly used in desserts but is perfect with chicken or in homemade beauty products.

In recipes:

  • lemon bread
  • Meringue Pie with lemon
  • Lemon Bars
  • Chicken marinated in lemon
  • Lemoncello
  • Lemon Curd Cookies
  • Pound Cake
  • Lemon-Glazed Donuts
  • Blueberry Lemon Pancakes
  • Citrusy Salad Dressing

In beauty products:

  • DIY Lemon Face Mask
  • Lemon bath bombs
  • Lemon Honey Hair Conditioner
  • Homemade Lip Balm with Essential Oils and Beeswax
  • DIY Foot Soak for Soft Feet
  • Body Scrub with Coconut Oil and Essential Oils
lemon extract recipe
Yield: 240 ml (1 cup, 8 oz)

How to make lemon extract recipe and its uses

how to use lemon extract

Learn how to make pure homemade lemon extract to add bright color and flavor to your favorite recipes with just two ingredients.

Cook Time 20 minutes
Additional Time 1 month 9 days 14 hours
Total Time 1 month 9 days 14 hours 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • zest from 3 organic lemons
  • 1 cup 40-50% alcohol is equal to 80-90 proof ethanol

Instructions

  1. Start by washing your lemons thoroughly under lukewarm water and dry them. Then, using a zester, remove the lemon peels from the lemons. Make sure to avoid getting any white pith, as this will give your extract a bitter flavor.
  2. Add the zest into a sterilized jar with a plastic lid. Cover the peel entirely with the alcohol of your choice, and shake them well. Tightly seal the jar with a plastic lid or use parchment paper between the metal lid and the jar to avoid any corrosion.
  3. Place the lemon tincture in a cool, dark place for 4-8 weeks, shaking it every few days to ensure all flavors combine fully. The longer it sits, the stronger the extract will be.
  4. After 4-8 weeks, strain the peel from the extract into a clean quart-size mason using cheesecloth or a coffee filter. Your lemon extract is now ready to use! Store it in a clean jar in a cool, dark place for up to 5 years.

      Notes

      For nonalcoholic extract, replace the alcohol with food-grade liquid glycerin. However, remember that glycerin takes longer to infuse than alcohol so it may need longer than six weeks. 

      Nutrition Information:

      Yield:

      40

      Serving Size:

      1

      Amount Per Serving: Calories: 99Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1mgCarbohydrates: 1gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 0g

      Did you make this recipe?

      Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram

      Vladka Merva on February 6th, 2023

      4 Comments on “How to make lemon extract recipe and its uses”

      1. This turned out great! I made it a bit ago and I used it in my meringue this past weekend once it was ready.

        Reply
      2. Holy mama, this is FANTASTIC! I love how this smells let alone using it in recipes! Thank youuu!

        Reply
      3. Oh this recipe is so good. I made this recipe for my cake and it came out super delicious. So good! Recommended!

        Reply

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