How to Make Lemon Extract

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

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If you haven’t incorporated lemon extract into your kitchen in some way, you are missing out on a delicious and potentially beneficial ingredient for your overall health.

What is Lemon Extract?

Lemon extract is primarily a flavoring agent that is made by soaking a lemon peel in some form of alcohol, typically ethyl alcohol, although vodka and other types of alcohol can also be used. This process allows the natural oils of the fruit to bind with the alcohol, resulting in the alcohol taking on the flavor of lemon, without absorbing all of the citric acid and other components of lemons. Alcohol, in this case, functions as a binding agent that holds the flavor in place over time, whereas normal fruit juice or the peels themselves would eventually lose this quality. The extract is commonly used in baking applications and other flavoring uses in the kitchen, as well as for some natural health remedies.

Lemon Extract Uses

Lemon extract can help to cure acne, boost the immune system, cut down on stress, and act as an anticancer agent, among others.

Acne

Apply a small, diluted amount of this extract on acne patches can speed healing, reduce redness, and tackle the underlying bacterial issues causing the inflammation.

A close up shot of a lemon and lemon extract

Lemon extract is a flavoring agent that’s made by soaking lemon peel in ethyl alcohol. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Immune System

This extract is known to slow the spread of microbial and bacterial growth, making it a booster for your immune system’s defenses.

Anticancer Potential

Peels of citrus fruits, including lemons, are a source of flavonoids. These are compounds which offer a range of biological activities. According to a study published in the Biomed Research International journal, these extracts could also have anticarcinogenic effects.

Stress

The aroma of this extract is known to impact stress hormone levels in the body and reduce anxiety when used in aromatherapy applications.

Canker Sores

Mixing a small amount of this extract with warm water and gargling with it can help eliminate canker sores very quickly, due to its astringent properties.

Difference Between Lemon Essence & Lemon Extract

As mentioned earlier, this extract is made by extracting the essential oils and flavor from lemon peels. Lemon essence, on the other hand, is either an imitation extract, flavored like lemon through the use of certain chemicals, or it is a highly concentrated form of lemon extract – often 3-4 times more powerful than a traditional extract.

How to Make Lemon Extract With & Without Alcohol?

There are two main ways to make lemon extract – with and without alcohol. Most extracts, by definition, are made by soaking the desired material (in this case, lemon peel) in alcohol, but that isn’t the only option.

A close-up shot of lemon and lemon extract in a small bottle

How to Make Lemon Extract with Alcohol

Sunshine in a bottle, that's exactly what lemon extract is.  If you have a bottle of lemon extract with you at all times, it would come handy to make delicacies like poppy seed muffins or lemon bread with vanilla glaze. It is very easy to make it at home. There are two ways of making lemon extract at home - with and without alcohol. Let's take a look at them below :
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Course: Condiment
Keyword: lemon extract
Servings: 1 small mason jar

Instructions

  • To make lemon extract with alcohol, first, thoroughly wash and dry the lemons. 
  • Thereafter, remove the peels from 2-3 lemons and add to a small mason jar.
  • Cover the peels with vodka and seal tightly.
  • Allow this extract to sit for 3-4 weeks before removing the peels.

How To Make Lemon Extract Without Alcohol

  • To make lemon extract without alcohol, remove the peels from 2-3 lemons and add them to a small mason jar.
  • Cover the peels with a mixture of 3 parts food-grade glycerin and 1 part water.
  • Allow the extracts to sit for at least 2 months before using it.
  • These extracts don’t need to be refrigerated and should last for up to 5 years!
    A close-up shot of lemon and lemon extract in a small bottle

Notes

Note that glycerin takes longer to ripen than alcohol. Thus, it is likely to take longer than six weeks, depending on the temperature of your home. It also depends on how strong you want it to be. 

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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