How To Make Herbal Tinctures
Adding herbal tinctures to your diet is a step towards wellness. Whether you want to infuse your drinks or ingest tinctures straight from the dropper, here is how to make them in your kitchen.
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How to Make Herbal Tinctures Two Ways
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How to Make Herbal Tinctures Through Percolation Method
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Dried herb powder
- Alcohol solvent for extraction and a little more for rehydration
Items You’ll Need
- Lab stand
- Weighing scale
- Percolation cone (a wine bottle with a cut base)
- Food grade silicone cap fitted with a needle valve
- Organic cotton balls and unbleached coffee filter
- A wooden spoon
- Collecting jar
- Measuring jar
- Glass bowl
- A spoon
1. Since percolation works with a standard 1:5 weight to volume ratio, start by weighing out your dried herb powder.
Consider the capacity of your wine glass cone to determine how much powder and alcohol you will use.
2. Once you have the right amount of powder weighed out, ensure you rehydrate it using the same kind of alcohol you will use for extraction.
This ensures that powder does not swell up when you add the alcohol in the percolation cone as this will deter solvent movement.
Though there is a scientific way to do this, keep mixing in a small amount of alcohol into the herb powder until it gets to a wet-sand consistency.
3. Now, to prepare the percolation cone, fit compact organic cotton balls in the neck of the wine bottle.
Next, tightly fit the silicone cap by pushing it as far up the bottleneck as possible and leave the valve open at this point.
4. Once the percolation cone is secured on the lab stand, start adding your rehydrated herb powder in thirds and use the end of your wooden spoon to press it down gently.
Doing this ensures an even layout of the powder, which results in consistent movement of the solvent.
5. Next, place an unbleached coffee filter on the surface of the powder, press it in place, and then add your diluted alcohol.
At this point, the alcohol solvent should move through the powder at the same speed all around.
6. Allow the alcohol to move through powder, cotton balls, and cap until you have a few drops of the tincture to ensure that all air has been displaced before closing the valve.
Once closed, allow the alcohol to sit with the plant material for about 12 hours to extract all the plant material constituents before starting the percolation dripping.
7. After the 12-hour digestion period, adjust the valve to have a steady flow of one drop every three to five seconds. Set this aside for a few hours until all the extracted tincture collects in the jar.
8. Lastly, label your collected tincture with as much detail as you can and store it in a dark place. Even with experience, tincture tastes and smells can trick you.
Besides, having detailed labeling will help you with any needed adjustments when making your next batch.
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How to Make Herbal Tinctures Through Maceration Method
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Dried herbs
- Alcohol solvent
Items You’ll Need
- Measuring jar
- Storage jar
1. With the standard 1:5 weight to volume ratio and your storage jars’ capacity in mind, weigh out your dried herbs and alcohol solvent.
While weighing out ingredients is not mandatory in this extraction process, it helps attain more consistent tinctures.
2. Next, take your measured ingredients through several rounds in the blender. This will increase the plant material contact with the solvent allowing it to extract even more plant goodness.
3. Now, transfer the herb and alcohol mixture into a well-labeled storage jar and let it sit in the dark for up to six weeks until the extraction process is complete. It is advisable to shake the mixture for a few seconds every day.
Remember: Include the date on the labeling to know when your tincture is ready.
4. After the processing time, line another storage jar with a cheesecloth and drain the tincture. Twist the cheesecloth while squeezing out the remaining liquid until you can’t anymore. Alternatively, blend the mixture into mush and strain it.
5. Lastly, label your collected tincture with as much detail as you can and store it in a dark place.
Factors to Consider When Making Tinctures
Using the right proportions of plant material to alcohol will determine the quality of herbal tinctures you create in the end, especially if you do not follow the standard weight to volume ratio.
Therefore, if using fresh herbs and flowers, fill the jars two-thirds to three-quarters full with finely chopped herbs and fill the remaining space with alcohol. Otherwise, fill your jars halfway to three-quarters full with finely cut dried herbs and flowers and top up with the solvent.
On the other hand, fill your jars halfway with fresh barks, roots, and berries and top up the remainder with alcohol. But go for a third filled jar for dried berries, roots, and barks.
In most cases, the alcohol strength required is dictated by the properties of the plant material you intend to use.
For Instance, the standard alcohol volume for tinctures is 40 to 50% and is best for dried herbs but also works well for fresh herbs that are less juicy.
On the other hand, an alcohol volume in the range of 67.5 to 70% is excellent for aromatic fresh herbs with high moisture content. In contrast, a volume of 85 to 95% is ideal for extracting essential oils and aromatics while dissolving resins and gum.
- Leaving the valve open ensures displaced air moves downwards instead of upwards.
- Be careful not to overpack the herb powder as this will stop the solvent’s movement. On the other hand, if your powder is too loosely packed, it will float when you add alcohol, which is not good.
- Placing the coffee filter on the powder surface ensures it does not float when you add the solvent.
- Avoid plastic jar lids as most aromatic tinctures might corrode them.
- If you plan to store your tinctures for a long time, protect your metal lids from corrosion by adding parchment paper on the jar rim.
- Stronger doesn’t always equate to quality with tinctures.
- Use airtight storage jars to prevent alcohol evaporation. Tinctures with insufficient alcohol content may rot during the process.
- Herbs should be submerged during the process to prevent mold. Top up the alcohol levels anytime they drop to ensure this.
The best thing about herbal tinctures is you get to choose how to make them. For a start, try maceration with cheaper herbs and gradually progress to percolation with pricey herbs. This way, you will have gathered enough knowledge, experience, and tricks along the way.
Which herbs do you like to tincture and why? Let us know in the comment section below!
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