We usually tincture dried plants when fresh ones aren’t available; for example, if you buy rather than grow them. For most plants, fresh is preferred, but dried will do. However, a few plants are actually best tinctured when dried. Elderberry, elderflower, cherry bark, and alder bark have mild toxins and/or nauseating properties that are eliminated in the drying process. Many adaptogenic roots, such as ashwagandha, are traditionally dried first to enhance potency.
- 1 part by weight dried herb
- Jar with tight lid
- 5 parts by volume 100-proof vodka*
1. If desired, grind herb coarsely in a blender or crush with a mortar and pestle. This improves extraction but isn’t absolutely necessary. Place herb in jar.
2. Cover herb with alcohol. Secure the lid and shake well. Store jar in a cool, dark place. Shake regularly, every day or so.
3. After at least 1 month, strain the liquid through a cloth. Squeeze out as much extract as you can with your hands. A potato ricer, wheatgrass juicer, or hydraulic tincture press will also work.
4. Pour into a dark glass bottle and store in a cool, dark, dry spot. The tincture will keep for 3 to 10 years.
*Note: Vodka, preferably 100-proof (50 percent alcohol), works well for most dried plants, but 80-proof brandy or vodka (40 percent alcohol) works in a pinch. Or mix 60 percent 190-proof ethanol with 40 percent filtered or distilled water to get approximately 60 percent alcohol in your finished tincture. As noted earlier, use 10 percent food-grade vegetable glycerine with your alcohol for high-tannin plant material. For more information, see “Making Sense of Proofs and Alcohol Percentages,” in Herbal Tinctures for Health and Well-Being.
Discover information and more recipes for tinctures in Herbal Tinctures for Health and Well-Being.
Excerpted from Grow Your Own Herbal Remedies © by Maria Noël Groves. Photography © by Stacey Cramp. Used with permission from Storey Publishing.