EXTRACT IT: VANILLA
Fig. A: Finely chop all the plant matter. Fig. B: Put the
dandelions in the jar and fill with menstruum to cover the
plants. Fig. C: Pour it all into a blender and blend.
» Alcohol is an excellent menstruum; 100 proof
grain alcohol is the best choice, but vodka, gin, or
rum can be used in its place. This example uses the
strongest vodka I could find at the market here in
California, 80 proof (40% alcohol).
» Vegetable glycerin also extracts and preserves,
but must be refrigerated. Glycerin is perfect for
children or other people for whom alcohol is contraindicated. It’s available with a little searching. It’s thick
and sticky, so dilute it to 50% with spring water.
» Vinegar is great because it’s tasty and can be
used in cooking, or served on salads. I used apple
cider vinegar, although white or red will also work.
Place the chopped plant matter into a jar, then pour
in the menstruum until the plant matter is just
barely covered with liquid (Figure B). I made 1 jar of
each type of menstruum, all using the same proportions. Now pour the mixture into a blender. Blend to
your heart’s content (Figure C). I stopped when the
particles of plant seemed good and pulverized, and
the liquid was cloudy and milky. Pour it all back into
the jar, and screw the lid on tight.
Fig. D: Shake the tincture every day. Fig. E: Strain the
plant matter and collect the liquid. Fig. F: Store the tincture in dark bottles. Fig. G: Label your herbal medicine.
4. Wait and shake.
For the next 6 weeks, store your jar in a cool, dark
place, and shake it vigorously every day (Figure D).
Shaking the tincture prevents the plant matter from
settling, and exposes more of its surface area to the
menstruum. Shake it and then store it; store it and
then shake it. Checking on the tincture every day
allows you to watch the transformation from green
liquid to darker brown.
5. Bottle and label.
After 6 weeks, the tincture is strong and potent. Strain
the plant matter from the fluid (Figure E). Then, using
a funnel, pour the tincture into a dark glass bottle for
long-term storage (Figure F). Vinegar and alcohol
tinctures have a very long shelf life. Glycerin tinctures
do too, as long as they are refrigerated.
Oh, and don’t forget to make a clear, readable
label for this medicine (Figure G). Include the plant
name and the parts of the plant used, the menstruum used, and the date the tincture was made.
The natural world is Brookelynn Morris’ greatest inspiration.
She learned everything she knows about plants and herbs
from one of her favorite teachers, her mother-in-law.