For years I have created plant medicine supplements to maintain health and wellness for myself and my family. I grow and forage plant matter to make my own tinctures, infusions, and decoctions each year. At first it seemed complicated, but the more I practiced and explored the process, it revealed itself to be pretty easy.
Most of us are familiar with herbal infusions, or at least those of us who have ever used a tea bag to make tea. At home, I harvest and dry my herbs on the ‘Growers Edge’ drying rack. I then chop them up and diffuse them in hot water for several minutes using a wire mesh tea strainer. This method releases certain constituent elements that are useful from the plants.
This method of extraction is mainly used with dried mushrooms, roots, tree bark, and berries. It requires a slow steeping process in hot water for several hours. A stove top, wood cook stove, or slow cooker is needed. When using this method, it is important to stir the decoction throughout the extraction process. You can then store the decoction for several days in the refrigerator or freeze it in ice cube trays for longer storage.
Some prefer to extract essential ingredients from their plant matter with a high proof alcohol such as ‘grain alcohol’, or Vegetable Glycerine as their solvent. I simply use store-bought Vodka. I have found that a proof between 70-80% will produce a better flavor profile.
I’ve made tinctures with dry herbs and with fresh herbs as well, and I have not found a huge difference between them. Always remember to finely chop your herbs before submerging into your solvent. This helps the solution reach every possible surface of the herb you are working with. I always use pint sized ‘Ball Jars’ as my vessel for the extraction, topped with plastic lids. Do not use the metal lids, as they will start to rust and ruin your project.
Fill the jar ⅔-¾ with the herb and top it off with the Vodka. Leave some room for air, as you will have to shake the tincture often (once a day if possible). Always label each jar with the date and contents for reference. Store the tincture in a cool dark area for 6-8 weeks. I use a jelly straining bag to strain the plant matter when the extraction time is up. I prefer to store the final product in light blocking Amber Jars. Your tinctures should last several years if done properly.