When you infuse herbs in alcohol or vinegar, it is commonly referred to as a tincture when used medicinally , but you can make some very tasty flavored vinegars and drink mixers, too. For alcohol based infusions, I watch for sales on vodka, and prefer those in glass jars over plastic. I figure if the alcohol can draw compounds out of the herbs, it may attack the plastic, too.
If you want to make baking extracts, vodka has the most neutral flavor, but other alcohol such as rum or brandy pairs well with vanilla and some other flavors. Raw apple cider vinegar is a staple in my kitchen this is our favorite brand of ACV , so I use that for most vinegar infusions. If you want to switch things up, you can use different types of vinegars.
White wine vinegar turns hot pink when infused with chive blossoms. Photo at top of post is chive blossoms and apple cider vinegar, wide photo is chive blossoms with white wine vinegar. I don't typically use white vinegar for cooking, but it will work if that's your preferred vinegar. I do sometimes pack a jar with citrus peels and white vinegar to make a natural citrus cleaner.
I often save my vinegar bottle and put the vinegar back in once it's done infusing. Susun Weed's tincture making method recommends filling the jar with fresh herbs, filling it with proof vodka making sure all the herbs are well covered, sealing, labeling and letting it stand for six weeks before straining. Sometimes she doesn't even strain, just dips some out of the bottle and leaves the plant material in.
She says she's kept some this way for years with no loss of potency. I regularly use this method, because it's quick and easy. Susun Weed prefers fresh herbs, some sites recommend only dry herbs. Some recommend infusing in warmth and light, others recommend cool and dark. I think it's a matter of working with what you have.
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I do oils in the sun, tinctures out of direct light, and I typically use fresh herbs for both. With water infusions, I'll often use dry herbs. Adapted from Healing Wise. Do not wash flowers. Cut off green. Shake daily. Wait two weeks, then strain and enjoy with ice and lemon, or hot with water and honey, or by itself before or after meals.
This recipe can be made with any edible flower or herb. You can also infuse herbs in honey. I made some vanilla honey for Christmas gifts last year — so yummy! The flavor takes a little longer to permeate the honey, so I'd recommend a minimum of a month on this one, although if you are using strongly flavored herbs, two weeks may be enough. For vanilla honey, add one or two chopped vanilla beans per cup jar, depending on the size of the bean and whether they've been previously used. I used beans that had previously been used to make ice cream and let them steep for three months.
Rose petals, mint, anise, chamomile and lavender are other popular choices for flavoring honey. Mild honeys, such as clover honey , work best for flavoring. Want to learn more about how to use herbs? Today I am infusing my own honey with my own herbs. Anywhere I can go and sort this all out, or does one just need to hunt here and there? Different cultures use herbs differently, and of course, different herbs grow around the world. I think it would take a lifetime or two to even make a dent in what can be done with them.
Simply start where you are with what you have, and experiment with one new use at a time. Hi, Judy. All herbs have own health benefits. Whatever herb you used, just google name of herb health benefits. Honey, alcohol and vinegar are extractors of all goodness from a plant, some of them getting more of goodness than others. Personally I thing alcohol would get more out of plant. English is not my first language, sorry for mistakes. Hi, Judi.
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I realize I am replying long after your original question about herbs, but I have recently been taking classes from a woman who teaches herbalism at Bastyr School of Natural Medicine in Seattle. They go over which herbs for various symptoms, as well as how to make truly lovely, very high end body creams and lotions with those infused oils, honeys, etc. Good luck! I say play. But yesterday I just strained out nettle and hibiscus. It is a glorious blood red color. And on my to do list next is to infuse some home made wild-fermented apple cider vinegar with rosemary. I am so inspired by your chive vinegar!
I have some healthy garlic chives growing right now, so I may have to try it myself. Hey, thanks for the shout out! See you tomorrow for Wildcrafting Wednesday! The infusion of herbs and honey is very common in Yemen- for adults and children. I use it regularly with my family, especially for coughs and stomach issues. It was so good to see this much ignored practice mentioned here- thank you for a great post!
How wonderful — gosh I just made some comfrey ointment and really enjoy using it — it is very healing. Plantain salve will be next on my list! Just wanting to know… How would you go about making an extract or is the process the same as a tincture…??? What about using Everclear as opposed to Vodka for that…???
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Is it too strong for extracts…??? Kate — yes, you make extracts the same way. I made a very yummy vanilla extract by mixing a couple different types of beans. Orange and almond extract are also very easy — just use orange zest strips and almonds. Everclear will work, but not exactly the same. It may be more bitter, for instance. Thanks for the opportunity. I have some comfrey drying. And I have my first herb garden growing. Wow — great info here! Also really like the book giveaway — thanks for that! Thanks for the helpful information!
I really would like to make some real vanilla extract and some stevia extract.. I love using thyme, so maybe would use it first. I have tried to infuse plantain with vinegar. It has worked for itchy spots such as mosquito bites and poison ivy. You can use as a simple salad dressing with a splash of vinegar or lemon, or sauteing vegetables.
Garlic and green beans pair very well. I also like olive oil and herbs. I have sage and basil growing that I am definitely going to try this with. I now have lemon balm oil, chive oil, tarragon vinegar and sage vinegar sitting on the side steeping. We will probably use them mostly as salad dressings, my four year old loves putting together salads with me! He thinks he is a master salad maker and who am I to argue with that. My eldest likes experimenting with spice mixes.
Some experiments have turned out better than others. Ive made my own vanilla extract and my own chive blossom vinegar.
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Just drained my first oil infusion and it has a smell. It smells different than the olive oil plain. Any thoughts? Does it smell rotten or just strange? For instance, the plantain infusions smells a little like pepperoni as it ages. You are breaking down plant material to draw out the useful compounds.
It is actually a fresh calendula and olive oil infusion but I have a plantain going as well. Dry, raspy coughs need to be treated differently than wet coughs produced in mucus-filled lungs. Nicole presents a holistic approach to handling fevers by helping move pathogens out of your body faster so you can feel better sooner. Moving into the second half of our journey together, Nicole shares four flavorful types of herbs and spices that deliver surprising and noticeable improvements to your overall digestion and comfort.
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Wrapping up our certification, Nicole delves into basic home remedies for infections Including delicate areas! Like the eyes, nose, mouth and genital area. Illustrating exactly how to make your own. And get answers directly from Nicole and fellow students, too. And participate in lively discussions that further cement the learning in your brain. She Makes It Easy! I thought that the herbal preparations would be difficult but she revealed how simple, healthy, and cost effective these treatments can be, especially considering the harsh chemicals that are in commercial products.
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