Here is the story of making Dandelion Tincture. We make it from the whole fresh plant: roots, leaves, crown, flowers, buds and all. We harvest by weeding the early spring garden beds.
The photo above shows the first bath. There is a bit of soil to wash off, not to mention a few brown leaves and such. We don’t intend to take any earthworms or slugs along for the ride, either.
At first we started out chopping the leaf and root by hand but this got old right away. So we broke out the Cuisinart. It made quick work out of the job and also helps to make more surface area available (especially the roots) to the tincturing medium — in this case, pure grain alcohol. If you are only making a pint or a quart, hand-chopping is fine, but we were making gallons at a time, thus the use of heavy equipment.
As you can guess, it’s important to label and date. The 1:2 ratio is one part plant material by weight to two parts liquid by volume, in this case 100% alcohol (technically, it’s 95%, but this demonstrates that we don’t add water to the maceration) . If the plant material was dried, you would need to add water to the liquid to bring the plant back to normal hydration levels (this differs from plant to plant). (Here’s the math of 1:2 – for instance, 8oz. by weight fresh plant material:16oz by volume alcohol.)
After 4 to 6 weeks, it’s time to strain the liquid from the solids. We used to use a screw-type press, which took a lot of work and wasn’t as efficient as we would have liked. Then Dave made an hydraulic type press, and it does the work for us, leaving a somewhat dry, compact cake of botanical matter in the straining cloth… which eventually goes out to the compost.
We always label according to the ratio and percentage of alcohol. That way when we go to make the same tincture in the future, we don’t have to remember which book to reference for the numbers. We used to simply cover the plant material by a couple fingers’ worth of liquid, but have since learned that for therapeutic doses for chronic illness, actually weighing the plant material and knowing how much water to add compared to alcohol can make a difference. Our former way of making tinctures isn’t wrong! It’s more of a tonic tincture, which is good too. People have been making tinctures this way for centuries, I call it the Grandma method of making them. Perfectly okay! But we were selling tinctures at the time, knowing that consistency and standardization of product was important.
Here is a beautiful example of homemade Dandelion Tincture. What is it used for? Says Doreen, “I use it as a regular tonic for healthy liver and gallbladder function. I take it if I’m going to eat baby-back ribs or some other rich food that is delicious but less than stellar in the health-food department. I take it because it is full of minerals. And, I take it because the plant told me to.”
© Doreen Shababy