Thursday, March 8, 2012

Tinctures

A tincture is an alcoholic extract of the active ingredients in a herb, made by soaking the dried or fresh plant material in a mixture of alcohol and water for two weeks and then straining the mix through a wine press or jelly bag. Commercially produced tinctures are usually made from ethyl alcohol. In some countries this is readily available duty-free, but in others the supply is strictly controlled by the authorities: vodka makes a suitable alternative as it contains fewer other flavorings than most alcohol. Standard herbal tinctures usually contain 25 percent alcohol in water (i.e. 1 fl oz/25ml of pure alcohol with 3fl oz/75ml of water). This is a little weaker than most commercial spirits (usually 37.5 percent alcohol), so the vodka will need diluting with water (1 1/2pt/750ml of vodka to 3/4pt/375ml of water) to make the required strength. Put 80z/200g of the dried herb into a large jar and pour over 1 1/2pt/750ml of the alcohol/water mixture. If using fresh herbs, then you need to use three times as much (i.e. 1 1/2Ib/ 600g of fresh herb to 1 1/2pt/750ml of liquid). Store in a cool place for two weeks, shaking the mixture each day, then filter through a wine press or cheesecloth bag. Store the tincture in clean, dark glass containers. Tinctures will last for two years or more without deterioration, although ayurvedic medicine argues that they increase in potency with age.

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