How to make alcohol-free herbal tinctures

Herbal tinctures are very concentrated liquid herbal infusions. Plants preserved in this natural form are easy to use and very effective.

Source: Smoobs/Flickr.com

Source: Smoobs/Flickr.com

Depending on the substance used as a base, herbal tinctures may keep longer than the plants from which they were made. Tinctures are often made with alcohol, but other liquids can also be used to preserve herbs, vinegar being one of the best. Apple cider vinegar is ideal as a base, especially for children or former alcoholics who need to avoid alcohol in any form.

Tinctures are effective in small quantities and are easy to transport. They enter the bloodstream faster and are quickly metabolized, especially when administered under the tongue. It is easy to process plants this way. Tinctures can be purchased in herbal stores, but you can make your own at a much lower cost, provided you follow the following guidelines.

What you need to make herbal vinegar tincture

  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Dried plants/herbs of your choice (roots, leaves, bark, etc. but not powder)
  • 1 wide mouthed jar with a tight lid
  • Organic, clean gauze
  • Colander
  • Glass or stainless steel bowl
  • Funnel
  • Dark colored bottle with eye dropper

Preparation

Place the herbs in a jar (enough to fill 1/4 – 1/3 of the jar). Fill the jar with vinegar leaving a 1 cm gap, and close the jar well. If the jar has a metal lid, put plastic wrap or parchment paper under it to avoid oxidation. The plants must be completely covered in vinegar.

Note: the vinegar can be heated slightly in advance to facilitate the extraction of active ingredients from the plants. Also, you can mix the plants and vinegar mixture in a blender first. This is useful especially when you use larger or tougher pieces of plants, such as roots or berries.

Label the jar with the production date and the list of ingredients. Store it in a cool, dark place for about a month. Shake up the jar every two days.

After a month to six weeks, the tincture is ready to be used. Put a strainer over a glass or stainless steel bowl. Place a piece of gauze in the strainer and strain the vinegar, pouring it slowly. When you are finished straining, press the plants lightly to squeeze out all the liquid.

Use the herbs as fertilizer or discard them.

Using a funnel, pour the filtered liquid into a dark glass jar, close the jar tightly and label it. You can pour some of the tincture in a smaller bottle with an eye dropper to carry with you. The eye dropper will help you use the tincture in uniform doses. A usual dose is one teaspoon of tincture per 50 kg of body weight.

If you store the tincture in the refrigerator, it will keep longer. If it is contains vinegar, it will not keep as long as alcohol-based tinctures (which can be kept for up to a year). Still, many people prefer vinegar as the basis of tincture for health reasons and because of the extra benefits. You can use herbal vinegar to flavor salads for an additional nutrient content. Herbs like oregano, tarragon, chives and rosemary are much recommended to be used in tinctures.

Making tinctures is a great way to preserve herbs. Dried herbs lose their properties over time, whereas tincture will enhance their properties.

Secrets to a successful tincture

Don’t leave too much space in the jar. Air can quickly damage the herbs.

To obtain the best tincture, prepare it at new moon and strain it at full moon. In this way, you act in harmony with the cycles of nature.

Don’t leave the tincture in direct sunlight. Place the jar on a plate to collect the excess fluid that escapes from under the lid during the ripening process.

Although you can use the tincture after four or six weeks of ripening, you don’t have to strain it right away.

You can leave the plants in the vinegar for another two months. Just write the date on the jar, so you know when it s time to strain it.

Don’t use white vinegar in tinctures, because this type of vinegar contains too many chemicals.

Because vinegar doesn’t keep as well as alcohol, it is best not to add water to the mixture and to use fresh herbs instead of dried ones.

It’s easy and fun to make your own tinctures. You can experiment with different combinations and these easy to make and healthy products will be a great addition to your natural medicine cabinet.

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