When people think of making herbal extracts, the first thought is to use alcohol. But, what if you don’t use alcohol for any reason, or you want an alternative? You can try using a food grade glycerin to get what is called a glycerite.
Glycerin is a great to use to extract the medicinal qualities we need from herbs in a fashion similar to alcohol. Glycerites are also a great herbal choice for children. It has a mildly sweet flavor, and also acts as the preservative for your glycerite. While glycerine is best for water soluble herbs and for extracting tannins and alkaloids, you can sub glycerine for all alcohol based tinctures.
Glycerites need dried herbs, water and glycerine. The dried herbs are easiest to find, and you need water to help “reconstitute” them and mix with the glycerine. Make sure your glycerine is a food grade one. You can find the one I use here.
While a glycerite can take 2-3 weeks normally, there are times when you need a prepared glycerite right away. This recipe can be used for such times, as it allows you to make a glycerite in a few hours. This recipe makes a 1:5 glycerite with 70% glycerin and 30% water.
What You Need:
What to do to make your glycerite:
- Weigh the echinacea and place it in clean or sterilized jar.
- Cover with the water so the herb is fully wet.
- Then add the glycerin and cap the jar tight with a lid.
- Gently stir to mix the glycerin thoroughly with the herb and water.
- Place a piece of cloth or a towel in the bottom of your pan, and fill the pan half full with water. (the cloth is to help prevent cracking. You can also use a trivet to keep the jar off the bottom of the pan)
- Place your closed jar on the cloth. Add water to the pan, making sure the water comes approximately half way up the jar.
- Bring to a gentle simmer and simmer the water in the pan on medium low for 2 hours, checking frequently to make sure that the glycerite is warm, but not simmering. Adjust the heat as necessary.
- Replace water in the pan as needed to keep the level half-way up the jar.
- Turn off heat and allow to cool 15 minutes.
- Remove the jar from the pan and strain out the glycerine mixture into a clean jar, removing the plant matter and composting.
- Seal your jar and label it with the ingredients and date. This can be stored in the cupboard for several years.
A normal adult dosage is 1/2 teaspoon 4-5 times a day. For children over the age of 2, use 1/4 teaspoon 2-3 times a day.
What do you do when you feel a cold coming on? Have you made a glycerite before? Be sure to pin this for later!
1. Hawkins, J. (2010). Certified Holistic Wellness Professional book 3. Spring Hill, TN: Vintage Remedies.