Written By T. K. Barwood
Herbal Extract– Extracts separate beneficial components from the less useful parts of the plants. Extracts can be liquid or powder. In liquid forms they are less processed and more effective than the powdered parts. To make an extract you will need a clean jar with a tight fitting lid, your herb of choice and either vinegar or glycerin work best. Chop the herbs into fine pieces and place into jar; cover with extractor (i.e. vinegar or glycerin). Usually a 1:3 ratio, 1 part herb to 3 parts extractor. Place lid on jar and shake, store in a dark place for 2-4 weeks. Strain with a cheese cloth and strainer or sieve. Place cheese cloth in strainer, place strainer into larger bowl. Pour liquid into strainer, once done, lift cheese cloth and twist out remaining liquid. Place a funnel into smaller, amber bottles and pour liquid into funnel. Place a dropper or cap on bottles. Store in a dark place and it should last 2-4 years easy.
Tincture– A tincture is a concentrated herbal extract with an alcohol extractor. It is much like the herbal extract. You will need the same tools to start except you will want a clear, strong grain alcohol. I prefer Everclear, but you can use vodka or clear rum. You will let it steep in a dark place for 4-6 weeks. Strain and place into amber bottles, same as above. This should be stored in a dark place and should last 3-6 years easy.
Elixir– There are many ways to make elixirs. You can simply take the tincture and add honey at a ration of 2:1. My favorite is to take a clean jar fill half way with honey the other half with brandy. Stir to release air bubbles and mix. With a chopstick, push your herb of choice into mixture. Steep for six weeks, strain and bottle. This will last 3-6 years and has many benefits.
Teas– There are a few ways to make teas. You can use your extract, tincture, and elixir just at to hot water. You can also make an infusion, dicoction or a brew. But most people understand this to just simply be an herb placed in a tea ball covered with hot water and allowed to step. This is the easiest way, but you may want different benefits.
Infusion– An infusion is when you take the delicate parts of the plant (i.e. leaves and flowers) and steep in hot water to extract the beneficial properties from the plants parts. Put the delicate parts into a clean jar, cover with boiling water allow to steep 24-48 hours. Strain, same as above, and drink. This can be sweetened with honey or sugar.
Decoction– This is using the hardy parts of the plant (i.e. Roots, barks, stems and seeds) place these parts into a a pot of cold water, bring to a boil, reduce heat. Simmer for 1 hour. This can be sweeten and drank or stored in the fridge.
Brew– This is a much harder form and used much less. This require the process of fermentation. Kombucha is a sweetened tea that is fermented with yeast or bacteria.
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