This recipe was provided by David L., one of our amazing extract-making pros. He reminds us that extract-making goes beyond vanilla and, like anything done in our kitchen, usually evokes memories of warm moments with family and friends.
In David's words:
I remember gathering Texas native pecans east of Fort Worth in the Trinity River bottoms when I was a kid. My family used pecans for quite a few things such as pecan pies, munching out of hand, and throwing at my siblings. But one thing my grandfather would make with the pecans always fascinated me. He made a flavoring he called pecan squeezin’s. Today we call it pecan extract.
Originally he made the squeezin’s with pecans and moonshine, but, at least for me, vodka is much easier to acquire. His formula was simple. He would simply fill a jar with raw pecans, cover it with the alcohol, screw on a lid, and place it on a shelf in the pantry for 6 months. When ready, he would fill a second jar with fresh pecans and strain the liquid from the first jar over them. He would top it off with some more alcohol, screw on a lid, and it went back into the pantry for another 6 months. Again he would strain off the liquid into another jar. At that point it was ready to be used.
I haven’t changed the method he taught me. In fact the only change I made was in switching from moonshine to 80 proof vodka. The pecans were fresh, not toasted, and never salted. Over the years I’ve experimented with toasting the pecans (I can’t tell any difference), and I've tried 100 proof vodka as well as Everclear. The higher proofs made the extract too bitter for me to use.
Therefore here is the recipe:
Papa’s Pecan Squeezin’s
1 jar with lid (any size)
enough pecan halves (raw or toasted) to fill the jar to the shoulder
enough 80 proof vodka to cover the pecans
After filling the jar with pecans and vodka, screw on the lid and place in a dark place. After 6 months fill another jar with fresh pecan and strain the flavored vodka into the 2nd jar. Top off with more vodka, screw on the lid, and return to the dark place for another 6 months. Now it’s ready to strain/filter into a bottle and use.
This flavoring can be used in making pecan pies, pumpkin pies, mince pies, and piecrusts. It’s good in cornbread, masa for tamales, bread pudding, french toast, poultry stuffing, waffles, pancakes and, well use your imagination.
I have tried it as a liqueur, but didn’t care for it straight. I never made it with bourbon, but it may make a good flavoring for pumpkin or sweet potato pie.