What is Peppermint Extract and How To Use It in Baking

Around the holidays, you'll find peppermint-flavored foods popping up all over the place. If you've ever wondered how to achieve that minty flavor, we've got the answer. Use a few drops of peppermint extract to give your cooking a wintry feel.

If you bake, you're probably very familiar with extracts. Vanilla extract is the most commonly used and can be found in almost all baking recipes. Citrus extracts, like lemon extract and orange extract, are great to use to enhance the flavor in your food.

During the winter months, peppermint extract takes the center stage for holiday baking. Peppermint extract is a great way to evoke the memory of candy canes, without needing to purchase the candy. Peppermint tea and hot chocolate are great ways to use peppermint and stay warm during the cold and cozy season. And lets not forget peppermint mochas!

Peppermint Extract Vs Peppermint Oil

Peppermint essential oil

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While they share a name, peppermint extract and peppermint oil are completely different. To make extract you can either steep leaves in alcohol, or dilute essential oils.

Peppermint oil is mainly used for aromatherapy and is about four times as strong as an extract. Not all oils are safe to ingest. If you want to be safe, either purchase pure peppermint extract or make some yourself.

A great reliable brand is Watkins pure peppermint extract. Their extract is made with natural flavors, gluten-free, non-GMO, and free of most allergens. It also does not contain corn syrup.

How to Use Peppermint Extract

In need of a quick and easy Christmas gift? Make DIY extracts for your friends and family.

To make peppermint extract, all you need to do is purchase some fresh mint leaves from the store, or use some from your garden. Make sure you're using peppermint leaves, and not spearmint leaves. Spearmint has a menthol flavor and is more common in savory dishes.

Add the peppermint leaves to a canning jar and cover them with unflavored vodka. Shake and store for a few weeks in a cool, dry place. You may also like pure vanilla extract. To make this vanilla extract recipe, use the same method, but swap out the leaves for vanilla beans.

One of the best uses for peppermint extract is to make mint chocolate chip ice cream. You can use regular mint extract, but the peppermint flavor pairs better with chocolate and sweet items. If you want your finished product to have the signature green color, add a few drops of food coloring.

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