Crafting your beautiful herbs into traditional remedies can be very fulfilling. One of the most popular and favourite ways to extract the beneficial compounds that a plant has to offer is in a glycerin solution. Glycerin is a wonderful medium for tinctures because they are alcohol-free and very convenient. Those who are alcohol-sensitive, or who have stomach or liver challenges, may safely consume vegetable glycerin. Glycerite tinctures can be easily used whenever you need them and are also a great folk remedy for your pets!
Glycerin, a sweet and syrupy liquid derived from plant oil, serves as the medium for this tincture-making process. The term "glycerite" refers to the outcome of a plant/glycerin infusion, where the plant is steeped in a glycerin solution for 2-4 weeks, resulting in an infused glycerin solution that can be stored and used for folk medicine.
Chamomile flowers are one of my favorite herbs to use in a glycerin extraction. Chamomile is well-known to impart a calming and relaxing state to the body. The constituents of chamomile relax muscle contractions and are excellent for stomach aches and menstrual cramping. Chamomile is also a gentle herb, often recommended for children. Just be aware and careful in knowing that chamomile is part of the Asteraceae family, so allergies do exist.
The folk method of preparing a glycerite is a lovely way to begin! Folk methods of preparing herbal concoctions have been used in kitchens and homes for thousands of years. One of the important aspects of working with the folk method is to know how much of what we are using and write it down. This way, it is reproducible and adjustable if needed.
Fresh plant material can also be used; however, the concentration of plant constituents in the resulting glycerite will be lower, and it is more difficult to estimate the shelf life.
In a glycerite solution, we need at least 70% vegetable glycerin to well preserve the end product. The goal is to use 20% of your total liquid volume in water and 70% of the total liquid volume in glycerin. Basically, we are diluting the glycerin, which is a thick syrup, and ensuring that it does not go moldy, therefore preserving it.
For this example, we are making 400 ml of glycerite, which would fit nicely in a 500ml mason jar. In order to do this, let's mix up a total of 500ml glycerite/water solution just in case we need it. To obtain a 70% glycerin solution, we would need 500ml x 0.7 = 350 ml glycerin and 500ml x 0.3 = 150 ml water.
Pre-mix your glycerin/water solution.
Coarsely crush (or grind) your herb. Weigh it (optional), record the weight, and place it in a 500 ml mason jar. The amount of herb should fit in about 2/3 of the jar.
Add your glycerol/water blend on top of the herb and crush and mix it up. Leave some space at the top of the jar to help make it simpler to mix and shake.
Stir well and place the lid on the jar. Close tightly.
Make sure the liquid completely covers the herb. If not, try to crush the herb a little more or add a little more of your glycerin/water solution.
Label the jar.
Let it sit 2-4 weeks, shaking the jar every day or two.
After 2-4 weeks, gently heat up the mixture in a pan of water to thin out the glycerol solution a little. This will make it easier for you to work with it.
Using a cheesecloth, strain the mixture into a bowl and squeeze and wring out the cloth to get as much liquid out as possible.
Pour the strained material into a dark bottle and label.
Et voila! The glycerite is ready to use.
This glycerite has a shelf life of about 2 years.