Monday, 2 February 2015

Tincture Making at Home

 I am currently experimenting with home-made tincture, maceration and extracting methods whilst on the Community Farm.

Tinctures are medicines using herbs steeped in alcohol and water. The percentage of alcohol and water depends on the proof of the alcohol.
A simple way is to powder the herbal material and place the menstruum (the liquid solvent in a herbal preperation) over the herb, macerating the material in the solution for up to three weeks (depending on the type of herb used) in a cool and dark place.

Tincturing can become more complex if you wish to get a more regular and consistent product, meaning you need to measure the absolute alcohol content of the herb to determine the strength of the preparation. More to come on this later- or if you are in Melbourne, come to one of my workshops (This weekend I will be holding a Discover Herbalism as a 2 day short course).

Ashwaganda Root Tincture. 


I am experimenting with Percolation methods, and have started with using an old pyrex coffee percolator, with cotton wool lining the bottom of the maceration vessel.



200g Dried Ashwaganda Root. 


Using 500ml of 95 proof ethanol.


And 500ml of distilled water.


On the Community Farm, we are exploring 'Simple Living', so my grinding is done using a hand held coffee grinder.

After grinding the dried Ashwaganda root I continued to powder the mix further using a mortar and pestle.


Crunching, Stirring, Grinding, Bashing... 



Mortar and Pestle between my feet as I watch the sun setting in the small valley of the property.


When the herb is powdered, or at least the root has been all smashed up so the menstruum can break down the cell walls more easily and access the constituents of the herb, it is placed into the percolator with a layer of cotton wool in the bottom.


The menstruum is poured into the maceration vessel.


The liquid should drip out of the bottom at a rate of 1-2 drips per second.
It was dripping at a rate of about 10 drips per second, so I placed more cotton wool in the bottom of the maceration vessel and tried again with pouring the menstruum over the top.
Still the percolation was too fast to extract the herbal medicine at a rate of 1 drip per second, providing a more potent medicine, so I will need to experiment further.
This will still provide a medicinal herbal extract, only the potency will be much harder to determine if the rate of percolation is too fast.

 

Keeping record in my Herbal Journal of the preparation.


This will help in future to determine potency, and record how the medicine works.

Looking forward to making my own percolator in future and showing others how to make home-based preparations that are easy, effective and most of all- Fun! 
This year I will be finishing my degree as a Herbalist and working to make medicine more accessible to people in Australia with a range of hands on courses and workshops.

Reclaim Food and Medicine!