A tincture is a plant extract made from a blend of alcohol and water. They can be made from a single plant or as a mixture of plants. I am making single plant tinctures so that I can blend them into different flavors of bitters for adding to cocktails or beer. In traditional herbalism, tinctures are used in many ways such as to improve health, treat sickness, and help with insomnia.
Depending on the plant you are extracting, you will need either the leaves, flowers, seeds, fruit, roots, or bark. You can use fresh or dried plant material, but be sure that the material is free of pesticides and herbicides as they can be concentrated in the alcohol extract. If you are wild-harvesting your plant material, please be 100% sure you are collecting the correct plant. The last thing you would want to do is accidentally harvest a poisonous plant that could seriously harm or kill you. I prefer to either grow my plants from seed or purchase them dry from a reliable source.
Alcohol plays the role of the solvent in tinctures. It is especially effective since it can extract compounds that are soluble in both water and alcohol. It also acts as a preservative which allows the tinctures to last for a long time. Tinctures can also be made with apple cider vinegar and glycerin, however they will not be as efficient at extracting the compounds and will have a much shorter shelf life.
When extracting you will want to use a neutral flavored alcohol so that it does not interfere with the flavor of the plants. Vodka and Everclear are excellent solvents for that reason. There are some plant flavors that are enhanced or complemented by using rum or a good brandy. I like to extract chocolate, coffee, and vanilla in these more flavored spirits. You will want to have an assortment of 80-proof, 100-proof, and 150-proof (40%, 50%, and 75% alcohol, respectively) alcohol since some plant materials will extract better at different percentages of alcohol. Plants that are more aromatic and resinous are less water soluble and will require a higher alcohol percentage to efficiently extract.
Dried plant material, alcohol, scale, mason jars, fine-mesh steel strainer, measuring cup, amber glass bottles with dropper, label, marker, and notebook.
- Wash and then clean jars, strainer, and measuring cup with a 70% solution of alcohol and wipe with a clean paper towel.
- Take good notes of what you are making so that you can reproduce the results in the future.
- Set your scale to measure in ounces. Take your mason jar and place it on the scale with the cover off. Tare the scale to set to zero. Place the appropriate amount of plant material into the mason jar according to the graph below.
- Tare the scale again to set to zero.
- Weigh the alcohol according to the graph below.
- Cover the jar and gently shake.
- Label the jar with the plant name, amount of plant material and alcohol, alcohol proof, and date the tincture was made.
- Place the jar in a cool, dark place and shake every day or two.
- Allow the plant material to extract for the time in the graph below.
- Strain the tincture through a fine-mesh steel strainer into a clean measuring cup.
- If needed, you can strain again through a coffee filter.
- Pour the strained tincture into an amber glass bottle with a dropper cap.
- Label the amber bottle with the plant name, proof of alcohol, and date.
|Allspice berries||7-14 Days||150-proof|
|Angelia root||14 Days||150-proof|
|Anise seed (ground)||7-10 Days||150-proof|
|Barberry root bark||14 Days||100-proof|
|Bay leaf||5-7 Days||150-proof|
|Birch bark||14 Days||150-proof|
|Black walnut seed||21-28 Days||100-proof|
|Burdock root||28 Days||80-proof|
|Callamus root||10-21 Days||150-proof|
|Caraway seed||14 Days||100-proof|
|Cardamom (green)||7-10 Days||100-proof|
|Cassia chips||7-14 Days||150-proof|
|Celery seed||14 Days||100-proof|
|Chamomile flowers||14 Days||150-proof|
|Cherries (dried)||14-28 Days||100-proof|
|Chicory Root roasted||21-28 Days||80-proof|
|Cinchona bark||14-28 Days||100-proof|
|Coconut Flakes||7-14 Days||100-proof|
|Coriander seeds||14 Days||100-proof|
|Dandelion root||21 Days||80-proof|
|Devil’s club root||14 Days||100-proof|
|Fennel Seed||7-10 Days||150-proof|
|Gentian root||10- 28 Days||80-proof|
|Ginger root||10-14 Days||150-proof|
|Grains of paradise||14 Days||100-proof|
|Green Tea||1-2 Days||80-proof|
|Hibiscus flowers||7 Days||80-proof|
|Juniper berries||7-14 Days||150-proof|
|Lemon zest||15-21 Days||150-proof|
|Licorice root||28 Days||80-proof|
|Lime zest||15 Days||150-proof|
|Milk thistle||28 Days||150-proof|
|Nutmeg (ground)||7-10 Days||150-proof|
|Orange zest||12-21 Days||150-proof|
|Orris root||14 Days||100-proof|
|Parsley leaf||21 Days||80-proof|
|Peppermint leaf||7 Days||150-proof|
|Quassia Chips||7-14 Days||150-proof|
|Rose hips||14 Days||80-proof|
|Rose petals||10 minutes||150-proof|
|Schizandra berries||21 Days||100-proof|
|Spearmint leaf||7-14 Days||100-proof|
|Star anise||7 Days||150-proof|
|Stinging nettles||21-28 Days||80-proof|
|Turmeric root||21 Days||150-proof|
|Vitex (Chaste) berry||28 Days||100-proof|
|Wild Cherry bark||14 Days||100-proof|
|Yellow Dock||28 Days||100-proof|
Bulk herb suppliers
Mountain Rose Herbs
Texas Natural Supply
Monterey Bay Spice Company