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Do you ever go grocery shopping for a specialty item, and gasp at the price? It will make your wallet pucker like it just ate a lemon.   The other day I went in search of Lemon Extract for my Lemon Jell-O Cake recipe.  Considering the non-sale price of $5.99 for one bottle was bad enough.  But knowing that it would take almost the full bottle to make one cake almost had me fainting right there in the aisle.  Talk about ‘Clean Up on Aisle Five’!

It is times like these when my curiosity runs rampant, and I wonder if I could just make it at home, and at a better price. With the ease of a Google search, I discovered that there is very little you can’t do at home – and for less money.  I do try to keep in mind that if I grow some of the things myself – like Basil for Pesto, I can save even more.

So I just had to try it.  That $5.99 gets expensive if you want to make more than one cake a year, and considering it’s one of the easiest and most delicious cakes I make, it is a given that several will be made.  Even on sale, Lemon Extract still costs around $3.00.  After doing some cost comparisons, I can make it myself for around $1.50, which is half the cost of the sale price.  I can make it in an eight-ounce Mason jar and have enough to last me for a year or more; that is, if I don’t share it with anyone.  Better yet, with a 750 ml bottle of Vodka, you can make two jars – one for you and one for a friend who loves to cook.

Before you buy that expensive ingredient, take a little time to see if you can make it yourself.  It will help with the bottom line of your grocery budget, and more than likely will be a better quality than what you can buy in the store.  Love the Lemon Jell-O Cake, but not the price of Lemon Extract?  Here’s how you can save a little money:  

Peel or zest five lemons (a little bit of the white pith won’t hurt a thing.)  Place the peels in an 8-ounce canning jar.  Fill jar with Vodka to within 1/2 inch from the top.  Screw on the lid and allow to sit in a cool space for 1 month.  Strain Extract, discarding the lemon peels.  Store in a cool place.