By Michelle M. Sharp, Founder and Content Creator of Meet the Minnesota Makers

Lee Zwiefelhofer of Minneapolis wanted to source extracts for baking and marinades locally. When he started l.c. finns extracts over  ten years ago, he couldn’t find what he wanted. “I think no one was doing it locally because to sell vanilla extract, it has to be tested and approved by the federal government. That process was difficult and there were not a lot of resources to help with the process.”

Lee’s motivation? “I love creating something fresh. People can experience something they’ve not had before.”

Determined to fill a niche in the local market, Lee passed through the process to secure approval to create and market his extracts. Vanilla was his first recipe with cardamom and cinnamon being the next. “I was looking for flavors that were unique. Things that you couldn’t really find anywhere. I created the hibiscus and ginger extracts next and finally the anise and coffee.”

It’s a toss up between vanilla and cardamom for being the most popular. When customers first experience Lee’s extracts, “They learn to smile with their noses,” shared Lee. “When you twist the cap from any bottle of l.c. finns extracts an intense, rich aroma serves as the list of ingredients.”

Everything that Lee makes for l.c. finns is hand-crafted in small batches in Minneapolis. Lee has a rich variety of recipes on his website for baking, cocktails, marinades and more. “Extracts aren’t just for baking anymore,” explained Lee. “People have told me they have used them in cocktails and teas. I even use the coffee extract on ice cream when making a sundae. There are so many uses for extracts—stir fries, soups—whatever you imagine.”

Purchase l.c. finns at Cooks of Crocus Hill, Golden Fig, Ingerbretsens, and Whole Foods throughout the Twin Cities, Chicago and Wisconsin. Also available at Lee looks forward to returning for Twin Cities farmers’ markets when his kids are off to college in a few short years.

Follow @lcfinns on Facebook and Instagram for inspiration both for extracts and from Lee’s travels with his family.

Follow @meettheminnesotamakers on Facebook and Instagram to discover more local makers who make Minnesota amazing!

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