As promised, here’s the follow-up to my post about the herbs I gathered on the solstice. In that post I described what herbs I picked, how, and why. So, here’s a quick post on what I did with them!
I believe time is of the essence when tincturing plants – the fresher the better. If we hadn’t been hiking around on public lands, I would have tinctured my herbs on the spot. But, I felt like lugging around giant bottles of brandy and vodka might be a little disconcerting to some of the hikers and bird watchers we encountered (trust me, we got plenty of strange looks just by wandering through the meadows with gloves, a big backpack, and pruning shears).
Also it’s a little bit not that legal to be flaunting alcohol in public. So, I erred on the side of caution and did the next best thing – raced home with the plants in little cups of water. Which worked well – none of them were wilted when we got back to the house. They seemed happy, and so was I.
I only needed a small amount of nettle to make a tincture – the rest I hung up to air dry so that I can use it to make infusions and teas.
Tincturing plants is very simple, and you only need a few supplies to get going.
Stuff you need:
Clean, dry glass jars
Alcohol (between 80 and 100 proof is best)
After you’ve gathered your herbs, give them a rough chop. All the aerial parts of the motherwort and cleavers can be chopped and tinctured; for yarrow and nettle, I stripped off just the flowers and leaves.
Next, fill your jar almost to the top with herb (if you’re using dried herb, fill it about half way).
Next, simply pour in the alcohol until the herbs are covered, then screw the lid on tightly. I used brandy for my yarrow and motherwort – I think that will be a yummy match! I went with vodka for the cleavers and gin for the nettle, because…well just because I FELT LIKE IT, OK?
Next, label. Labeling is important. You might think to yourself, Pfft, I’ll remember what everything is, it’s only like four jars.
DO NOT BE LED ASTRAY BY YOUR PRIDE.
In about a week you will have no idea what plant is in what jar or what it’s in or how long it’s been in there. Or maybe that’s just me and my feeble, overwrought mind. But listen, pouring a vodka tincture of cleavers on your salad because you thought it was the vinegar dressing you made = NO THANK YOU SIR.*
*That never happened. This is merely a fictional, cautionary tale that I made up to scare you.
Anyway, Let the tincture sit for six weeks in a cool, dark place.
For the first week or so, It’s a good idea to give your tincture a shake and keep an eye on it to make sure you don’t need to add a bit more alcohol – it’s important to make sure the herbs are completely covered.
After the six weeks have passed, strain out the herbs and bottle the liquid (little dropper bottles work best…I have access to many of these thanks to Ian’s experimentation with scented beard oils. Yes, that is as fantastic as it sounds. I’ll explain another time…).
Don’t forget to label the little bottles as well! Yay! That’s it – medicine made. Your tinctures should last years and years.