If you have fresh plant material available, go with that for a tincture rather than using dried herbs. It’s almost always better, and in some cases, it’s really the only way to go.
I love making fresh plant tinctures. With minimal preparation time, you’re rewarded with a fantastic extract, and you really experience your plant. High-proof alcohol sucks the water out of the plant and makes a better extract, but if you don’t have access to it, see the note for alternatives. Here are the materials to get started:
- 1 part by weight fresh herb
- Scissors or clippers
- Jar with tight lid
- 2 parts by volume 190-proof alcohol*
1. Coarsely chop your plant material with clippers or scissors, weighing it out as you chop.
2. Shove the material into the jar — for leaves and flowers, squeeze in as much as is humanly possible. For best results, use a jar that exactly fits what you need without extra space.
3. Cover to the top of the jar with alcohol (it’s more important to keep it covered). You may need to hold the plant material down as you fill the jar, and use a knife or chopsticks to remove air bubbles. Secure the lid, but no need to shake. Store the jar in a cool, dark place. Open the jar a few days later to top off the contents with a little more alcohol.
4. After at least 1 month, strain the mixture 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 well here.
5. Pour into a dark glass bottle and store in a cool, dark, dry spot. The tincture will keep for 3 to 10 years.
*Note: 190-proof vodka is sold in some states as ethanol or grain alcohol, though you can purchase food-grade organic grape and sugarcane ethanol online. Some states have banned 190-proof but offer 151-proof grain alcohol or vodka in stores, which will suffice. If this is not available, substitute 100-proof vodka, 80-proof vodka, or 80-proof brandy. The higher the proof, the stronger the extract. 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.