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Naomi's Culinary Extracts

I love to bake, especially with two boys in the house, I will need to bake and freeze my breads, treats and goodies. When you soak certain fruit in alcohol, the alcohol draws out the flavor and aroma. Aroma is a very important part of flavor. Have you ever noticed that when your nose is stuffy, food does not taste right? The same process is at work when making extracts. It is a matter of making a tincture. A tincture uses a solvent, such as vodka or rum, to extract oils, nutrients or phytochemicals of a plant.

Extracts are very expensive, expect to spend $10 to $12 on a six ounce bottle. One of the reasons they are pricey is because infusing the flavor and aroma takes a very long time. Manufacturers have to pay for shelf space and storage. I love to garden, harvest, and make as much as I can from scratch. I am able to make more diverse dishes and treats while spending only a fraction of the cost. I found a few wholesale supplier of nuts and seeds for my extracts. Nuts In Bulk and Oh Nuts. (Nuts in Bulk appear to offer the best deals) My products make great gifts, and if I stumble upon something that is very good, it might make its way to the local farmers market. 

So here is my current project: Orange and Vanilla Extract. Infusion should be finished May 1st, 2013. 

Many foods are soluble in alcohol and water. Sometimes you can use either Vodka or Rum with water. The extract will be perfectly fine if you add water. Natural vanilla beans contain hundreds of compounds which give it its complex flavor and aroma, it would make sense to use both alcohol and water as solvents (i.e., to use 100 proof alcohol). Different percentages of alcohol to water will tend to have different properties when it comes to dissolving various flavor and aroma compounds over a fixed period of time. Presumably, commercial producers of top quality natural vanilla extract have figured out the best mixture of ethanol to water for the vanilla beans they use, the extracting process they use, and the signature flavor/aroma profile of their extract.

For my extractions, I will be using 80% cheap Vodka with 20% spring water. It really does not matter what kind of Vodka you use, because the beans, fruits, or nuts you are using will take over the flavor. So go for the cheap stuff. 

After I made my extracts and photographed the jars for this blog, I placed them in a dark place. Light degenerates the extract, so keep it in a dark place for proper infusions. When the batches are finished, they will be packaged into small amber bottles from Specialty Bottles (my favorite supplier). 

Upcoming Projects are going to be:

  • Cherry Extract
  • Strawberry Extract
  • Lemon Extract 
  • Blueberry Extract
  • Chocolate Mint Extract
  • Peppermint Extract
  • Chocolate Extract
  • Coffee Extract
  • Orange Extract
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Almond Extract
  • Hazelnut Extract
  • Green Apple Extract
  • Peach Extract
  • Coconut Extract
Last night, I made: lemon, chocolate, cinnamon, and coconut extracts. I have to do cheery, strawberry, blueberry, almond, hazelnut, green apple and peach.

When I make the basic extracts, I am going to make some more complicated extracts
  • Pumpkin Pie Extract (cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, allspice)
  • Chocolate Chip Mint Extract 
  • Peanut Butter and Chocolate Extract
  • Tropical Extract (coconut, lime, mango)
  • Turtle Cheese Cake

There is a lot to think about. 

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Polish Borscht

This is my first attempt at making Polish Borscht Soup. I found several recipes and YouTube tutorial videos.борщ and featured on Ukrainian postage.(see image) Borscht is beet root based recipe popular in many central and eastern European countries. The original Ukrainian name does not end with a 't', the final t sound was added when the dish was adopted by Yiddish speaking Jews.

My base recipe came from the following YouTube video. Red Borscht - Barszcz Czerwony - Christmas Menu Recipe #51. There is a follow up video, how to make miniature Polish mushroom dumplings, Uszka. Ukrainian Borscht is more complicated, as it calls for carrots, potato, cabbage and beef.

As this is my first Borscht, I do not know if I prefer the Polish version or the Ukrainian version. I will be making it my own way. In Ania's video, she strained the soup with a cheese cloth, and recommend we do not bring the soup to a boil more than once as it will turn brown. In another Polish language video, (featured below) they used a strainer instead of a cheesecloth. Ania recommended letting the soup sit overnight, then slowly reheating it the next day.

  • 1 can beets
  • 1 red apple
  • 2 cans water
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 1 shallot
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 4 tbs orange juice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • sugar
  • salt
  • pepper
How Was it Served?

I served it with a dollop of sour cream and chopped green onion. The sour cream sank right to the bottom, which I did not like. I think that the sour cream is intended for the Russian/Ukrainian recipe and not the Polish recipe. I served it with chopped green onion, as I did not have time to make the mushroom dumplings.

How Did it Turn Out?

I thought that it was delicious, my husband thought it was too tart. Next time, I will replace 4 tbs Orange Juice with 2 tbs lemon juice. My intention is to make this soup again during the Winter Holidays. The Polish Borscht should be transparent, not cloudy, much like a red won-ton soup whereas the Russian/Ukrainian version can be cloudy, and hearty.

Continue Reading to see images of borscht

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