Does it look like we are brewing magic potions in our kitchen window?
Our garden this year is producing herbs in abundance. This is sort of fun, because it is something I can actually preserve in a variety of ways from a smaller space. We have grown mint in the past (our favorite variety is chocolate) and would dry some for teas and flavoring and then make the rest into mint coffee syrup. Often, however, I would want mint extract for baking and would either need to use way more syrup (aka sugar) than I wanted or I would have to buy mint extract.
Tim spent some quality time with Mr. Google and found several methods for extracting the oils from the plants. We went with a two week soak in vodka, followed by a draining and a quick boil (to get rid of the alcohol). Other methods suggested freezing the mixture after removing the leaves so that the oil and alcohol separates, but since there was disagreement between several sources on if that was actually sufficient to remove the alcohol we decided to go ahead and just boil it straight away. After a test batch a few weeks ago, we are doing a larger bunch now and are anxious to see how much extract we actually get in the end. Mint grows quickly, so we should be able to make a batch per month (or more) if we do only extract. This makes sense because it stores in smaller spaces and we can always use the extract to make syrup as we run out.
We also planted Stevia and are going to see if we can do an extract the same way. We've read mixed reviews about this though and some people seem to prefer to dry and crush the leaves to use as a sweetener. I think dried Stevia with dried mint would pair nicely in a tea blend, the leaves are really sweet as advertised.
Because really, what is gardening other than the ultimate science project?