How To Make Herbal Tinctures From Your Garden
You may have heard about some of the healing powers of plants. Creating herbal tinctures may sound like a mystical process that conjures ideas of how ancient civilizations harnessed powers from special herbs. It may sound like magic, but it’s really quite simple. Herbs, flowers, roots, and fruits all have their own chemical compositions that have allowed them to evolve and survive in their environments. They’ve developed unique adaptions that make them look the way they look and taste the way they taste. When we eat them, the effects they can have on our bodies are just as diverse as the plants themselves.
It’s no surprise that humans have become privy to this knowledge and have developed different methods to harness and concentrate these natural benefits. One such method is to create tinctures.
WHAT'S A TINCTURE?
In the simplest of terms, a tincture is a concentrated solution of naturally extracted organic compounds.
Not all extractions are tinctures, but all tinctures are extractions. What makes it a tincture is the solvent.
What's the distinction? Add some cucumbers and mint leaves to a jug of water, let it sit a while, and then filter out the solids and you’ve technically just created an extraction. A tincture on the other hand specifically uses alcohol as the solvent. The result is a much more highly concentrated extraction that can be used as dietary supplement and a cooking ingredient. Add it to teas, sparkling waters or use it as a cocktail flavoring (tinctures can be very tasty). What's more, tinctures are shelf-stable and can last for years in amber jars!
Do I Need Fancy Equipment?
No. Though special equipment like percolators can help to increase the efficiency and potency of your extraction, they are not necessary. This household method will achieve the same goal, it will simply take longer. The only supplies you’ll need are:
- Organic herbs
- Rubber-sealed glass jars
The key to creating an efficient extraction is proportion. You need to use the right ratio of alcohol and herbs. The fineness of the chopped herbs will also play a role in the extraction. This will depend on whether you want to create your tincture from fresh or dried herbs.
Fresh Herbs & Flowers
- Rinse to clean
- Finely Chop or grind
- Fill jar 2/3 with herb
- Pour alcohol to the very top of jar
- Seal jar
Dried Herbs & Flowers
- Finely chop or grind
- Fill jar ½ with herb
- Pour alcohol to the very top of jar
- Seal Jar
CHOOSING ALCOHOL STRENGTH
40-50% Alcohol (80 to 90 Proof)
- Best for herbs and flowers (it will extract more of the water-soluble properties)
65-75% Alcohol (130 to 150 Proof)
- Better extraction from fresh, moist fruits and roots
Before sealing up, double check that you’ve topped off the jar with alcohol. Leaving exposed oxygen in the jar can lead to the development of mold or bacteria.
When the solutions are well-sealed, place the tincture in a cool, dark, and dry place. Allow the tincture to extract for 6-8 weeks, shaking several times a week.
You should also periodically check the alcohol levels in your jars. If some has evaporated, add more in, so as not to allow any space for exposed air.
BOTTLING AND STORAGE
You’ll want to store your tinctures in amber glass bottles. The opacity helps keep the tincture protected from light exposure and will help increase its shelf life. It is also very handy to use an amber bottle with a squeeze dropper built into the top for easy use.
This is the part where the funnel and cheesecloth come in. Place the funnel in the top of the amber bottle and line it with the cheesecloth. Once all of the liquid is poured through, you can squeeze and twist the cheesecloth until you’ve got all of the liquid out.
Label your new tincture bottles with some yarn and tags or write-on stickers. Or if you’re a pro hobbyist and you happen to own a label maker, then now’s the time to make it shine.
GROW IT YOURSELF
Ferry Morse Healing Plants Gardening Kit
Try growing this kit of healing plants for cooking and creating tinctures.
- Purple Coneflower (Echinacea) Seed Packet
- Amaranth Love Lies Bleeding Seed Packet
- Organic Pepper Cayenne Long Slim Seed Packet
- Organic Thyme Seed Packet
- Mint Seed Seed Packet
- Lavender True (Sow Easy) Seed Packet
- Jiffy 72 Pellet Professional Greenhouse with SUPERthrive Vitamin Solution With Kelp