Making herbal tinctures and extracts has been a hobby of mine for quite a few years. Some are for medicinal purposes and some for the preserved concentrated flavor for adding to food or beverage.
Mint plants have been looking exceptionally good this year (photo taken in April) but the hot weather is beginning to wear on them and they are likely to flower soon and go to seed. I harvested some of the mint earlier in the week and steeped the chopped leaves in white balsamic vinegar which had just been brought to a boil. When cooled I strained out the herb solids and bottled the infused vinegar.
This mint flavored balsamic vinegar could be used in marinades and salad dressings or anywhere a tart, slightly sweet, minty flavor is desired. The other day I added a splash of it to the cooking water when I made minty rice.
In January of 2018 I made a mint tincture by pouring 100proof vodka over dried mint leaves and allowing the herb to macerate in the alcohol for a period of time. I left it in a cool dark spot for almost 15 months before straining and bottling the tincture in March of 2019.
This mint tincture could be used medicinally for whatever value it may have, or it could be used for flavoring food or beverages. When used in cooking the alcohol evaporates leaving only the flavor of mint.
One way I have used this tincture is to flavor a salty mint lassi, a refreshing yogurt beverage. While I love a sweet mango lassi I also enjoy a savory salty one. To yogurt thinned with water or to thinned buttermilk I add an eyedropper of tincture of mint, a pinch of black salt and sometimes a pinch of cumin powder. This beverage is not likely to be enjoyed by all; it is an “acquired taste,” if you will.
Having used the dried herb to make tincture I decided to make another one using fresh mint. I chopped the washed leaves and bruised them with mortar and pestle. The bruised mint leaves will remain covered with (cheap) 100proof (minimum) vodka in a dark cupboard for a few weeks before the tincture is strained and wrung out the herb solids. It is recommended that macerating herbs be agitated periodically but I rarely remember to do that. I just forget about the project until the day it once again comes to mind.
I have yet to use mint flavor extract in baking. Must do that one of these days.