Herbal Preparations

INFUSION

pour approximately 600ml of boiling water over 25g of dried herbs or 50 g of fresh herbs and allow to steep for several hours. Always put a lid on the container, to stop any of the precious volatile oils from vaporising into the air. NEVER use aluminium containers as the herbs can leach out the metal. Use glass, stainless steel. Pour liquid into the container through a muslin cloth. Discard the herbs material. The infusion will keep in the fridge for about a week.

DECOCTION

woodier herbs , especially the roots need to be boiled for longer to extract their potency. Use 600ml of water for each 25g of dried and 50g of fresh herb – root, bark or seed- and simmer gently over a low heat for about an hour. As before NEVER use aluminium pans. Leave the decoction to infuse for a further hour at least in the covered pan Pour liquid into the container through a muslin cloth. Discard the herbs material. As before the decoction will last about a week in the fridge.

MACERATED OILS

dried herbs are better to macerate than fresh, as there is less moisture to contaminate the oil. Fill a jar with finely chopped herbs and completely cover with oil – the oil will depend upon the recipe – it may be necessary to tap the jar to get all the air bubbles out. Stand the jar in a warm sunny place for at least 10 days to 3 weeks, gently shaking the contents daily. Once the oil is ready, strain through a piece of muslin, although a double layer of kitchen paper works just as well, pressing down gently with the back of a wooden spoon, into a jar. Macerated oils will last approximately 6 months to a year.

MACERATED OILS – QUICK METHOD

if you don’t have the time or patience to wait three weeks for your oil, you can cheat! First decide the amount you want to make and use that amount of oil. Using a double boiler – or glass bowl over a pan with boiling water - place the herbs in and cover with the oil. Warm the oil to a very gentle simmer, just so it glups , for an hour or so, then using a slotted spoon, remove the herbs , making sure you don’t waste any of the oil, remove from the pan, and replace with more herbs. Using double the amount of herbs ensures a more potent oil.

TINCTURES

are an excellent way to harness the power of herbs, and are more practical and longer lasting than herbal teas. Tinctures use alcohol to extract the medicinal properties of herbs and volume for volume are more concentrated than infusions, decoctions or macerated oils. Tinctures are easy to make and will last up to 12 months, if kept in a dark cupboard.

If using fresh herbs ensure they are dry, then chop and place in a jar. Cover with good vodka and ensure all herb material is covered. Seal the jar and place in a dark cupboard for 3 weeks, giving the jar a daily shake. Open the jar and strain the liquid through a muslin cloth. Pour the liquid into a coloured glass bottle and label. Take a teaspoon of tincture 2 or 3 times a day in warm water.

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