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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Herbalism: Making Tinctures ... pt1

So, I decided to do a little herbal brewing today.

Specifically, I'm making three different Tinctures: dried Echinacea root, dried Peppermint leaf, and dried Elder flowers ... or, at least, getting a start on them. It will take six weeks before they are ready for bottling.

I start by gathering my ingredients together. The herbs I picked up at Gaia Garden, an Herbal Apothecary in Vancouver (along with a few other supplies) ... eventually, I'd like to be able to garden (as in actually have space to have a garden) and these are three plants that will for certain be included. I'll explain the uses of the different tinctures when I reach the decanting/bottling stage.

Vodka, empty jar, label, dried Echinacea root.
It is really important to make sure to clearly label the infusion to show what is in it, when it was started and when it needs to be decanted. If it's the only thing I have on the go, it's easy to remember what's in it ... however, once a number of jars of various chopped fresh or dried herbs begin to accumulate, it becomes difficult to remember them all. Getting into a habit of labelling helps to prevent any confusion later.

Label that identifies the contents.

Date started, date to decant, and % of alcohol in the Vodka used.
 Making an herbal Tincture is just about the easiest of the herbal concoctions that one can do.

Put the herb in the jar ...
fill 1/2 way if using dried materials;
chop fine and fill to the top if using fresh material.

Pour in the Vodka to fill the jar.

Cap tightly, label and shake vigorously.
I then put it on the kitchen counter, making sure that it's not in any direct sunlight, where I will be able to see it. This serves as a visual reminder to me to shake it vigorously every day for the next six weeks. For the first 2 weeks, as the dried herbs absorb the alcohol, it's also important to open the jar before shaking it and top up the Vodka to make sure that the herbs stay covered. This prevents them from spoiling before the infusion is ready for decanting.

(Peppermint leaf and Elder flower tincture jars not shown)

So, for now we'll wave buh-bye to the tincture jars with a promise to revisit them when it comes time to decant.

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