The Better Aperitif: Bitters Tonic

| December/January 1996

Here is a recipe for a homemade bitters tonic made of dried herbs. The cardamom and ginger are added to make it more palatable. Bitters are most effective when taken over a period of weeks or months, as their effect builds up over time. Take no more than 1 ­teaspoon of the tonic 15 to 30 minutes before meals.

• 4 parts gentian root
• 4 parts blessed thistle
• 2 parts dried orange or lemon peel
• 1 part gingerroot
• 1 part cardamom seeds
• Vodka, whiskey, brandy, or wine

1. Pulverize the herbs in a blender or food processor. Place the powder in a jar, add enough vodka, whiskey, brandy, or wine to cover it to twice its depth, then cover it tightly.

2. Steep for 2 weeks, shaking the jar every day. Pour through a strainer lined with a coffee filter, pressing the liquid from the solids. Transfer to dark bottles, cover tightly, and store in a dark place at room temperature.

Note: If you would rather make a bitters tea and avoid the alcohol, simmer 1 1/2 teaspoons of the powdered herbs in 1 cup of water for 30 minutes. Strain. Take 2 teaspoons of the tea at room temperature 15 to 30 minutes before a meal. Keep the remainder in the refrigerator for as long as 3 days.

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