Want to use herbal extracts … but not if they're alcohol-based?
Herbal extracts are arguably the most potent way to deliver the healing and balancing benefits of herbs to our bodies.
And alcohol is a powerful extractor of those benefits. (I showed you how to make your own here, and save a bundle!)
Yet, what if you can't or don't want to consume alcohol — or give it to your kids?
Are you out of luck? Absolutely not!
Because… you can make a glycerin-based, alcohol-free herbal extract — also known as an herbal glycerite.
Although they aren't quite as potent nor long-lasting as alcohol-based tinctures, glycerites are faster to make. While an alcohol-based tincture will take 6 to 8 weeks, a glycerin-based, non-alcoholic herbal extract takes just 3 days.
And, they taste better because they're sweet. Which means kids often love taking them — instead of complaining about them!
Glycerine (or glycerol) is a natural component of all fats and oils. When fats are digested in the body, they are broken down into fatty acids and glycerine. Hence, glycerine is a non-toxic, natural food substance. It is also a good solvent of herbal constituents and a preservative. To top it off, glycerine is also sweet tasting but does not cause blood sugar problems. This glycerine is Kosher, non-GMO, and Halal Certified. It is generated exclusively from vegetable-based sources and has many uses. —Bulk Herb Store
They're Cheaper, Too
And, last but not least — you can save a bundle by making your own! Katie Mae Stanley, one of our contributing writers (who wrote the original version of this post) says:
Making your own herbal glycerite may seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Homemade glycerites are also much easier on the pocketbook. Store-bought ones are easily $8 dollars per 4-ounce bottle, while it costs $8 to make an entire quart or more of the homemade stuff.
So, considering that they're faster to make, alcohol-free, taste better, and it's cheaper to make your own — homemade glycerites are the way to go for many people. Especially when kids are involved. 😉
Tinctures With Purpose
Things come up in the family and I think to myself, “I bet there's a tincture for that!” Sure enough, there usually is. 😉
Sometimes I have to make it right then and there (after doing some research) — and glycerites take just 3 days.
But lately I'm all about stocking up on the tinctures that are going to help with daily life, illness, and things that we just know come up in our family.
(Disclaimer: On all these, I'm just sharing our experience, not giving medical advice.)
I'm also making glycerites out of adaptogenic herbs. I want to take a moment and explain adaptogens, and then get to the how-to, ok? 🙂
A Bit About Adaptogens
I especially love herbal tinctures for delivering the benefits of adaptogenic herbs. Adaptogens are a special class of herbs that help with stress, vitality, and overall balancing of your body. They're fascinating and powerful!
For more information on adaptogens, check out this eBook:
It's not very expensive and the information is presented simply and thoroughly. Heather (the author) is a good friend, and I trust her integrity and information.
And now for the recipe…
And Finally, Here's The Alcohol-Free Herbal Extract — or Herbal Glycerite — Recipe!
Homemade Non-Alcoholic Herbal Extract aka Herbal Glycerite
- herbs of choice single or multiple
- non-GMO palm-derived glycerin (I prefer this to soy-derived glycerin or GMO glycerin)
- pure water boiling
- quart size jar or jars
- 8- quart Instant Pot OR crockpot tall enough to fit quart size jars*
- fine mesh strainer
- pot or big bowl
Put herbs in quart size Mason jar to 1/3 full (for dried soft herbs) or 1/2 full (for dried hard herbs) -- not packed down.
Then pour a bit of boiling water over the herbs to help release nutrients (optional).
Pour glycerin over all to fill the jar to just below the bands. You may have to add glycerin a bit at a time and stir with a spoon to help it soak down in. It's so thick!
Then cover the jar with a metal band and lid and screw down tightly (so nothing leaks during the cooking).
Put a towel on the bottom of the pot (whichever you're using).
Put the jar(s) on top of the towel.
Then fill the pot to the shoulders of the jar(s) with water.
Set slow cooker or crockpot to low for 3 days. (If using the Instant Pot, the slow cooker setting only goes up to 20 hours. This is fine, just keep resetting it so that it "cooks" on low for a total of 72 hours and be sure to adjust the Slow Cook setting to Low.)
Then keep an eye out that the mixture doesn't boil or leak out over the 3 days. (Some crockpots run hot; you can turn it off at night if you fear it's getting too hot.)
Turn off crockpot or Instant Pot.
The glycerin should be quite dark now from the herbs.
Then put the strainer over a big bowl or pot.
Dump the contents of one jar into the strainer and let the liquid drip into the pot.
Pour some boiling water over the herbs to help rinse all the glycerin off. (Use as little as possible.)
Then stir with a big spoon to help the herbs drip out fully, and also press the herbs with the spoon to squeeze out as much glycerin as you can. You can also use your hands and squeeze!
Compost the herbs.
Then pour the finished glycerite into a glass jar and cover tightly. Or you can use a funnel and separate into 2- or 4-ounce amber dropper bottles.
Finally, store in a cool, dark location. Even better to keep in the refrigerator.
Usage: Consult your naturopath or doctor or do your own research; most people take 1/2 teaspoon daily of extract(s) they feel are beneficial to their health goals. I cannot give medical advice, so please do your own research. This is just a general guideline.
Notes On The Recipe
*You need a slow cooker setting, which means you need a crockpot or an Instant Pot. I make these 2 to 3 quarts at a time inside my 8-quart Instant Pot (you can fit up to 3 quart jars). The quart jars do not fit in a 6-quart Instant Pot, but you could scale down to pint jars instead if you're using the 6-quart Instant Pot.
Want to skip the whole crockpot thing? Katie Mae Stanley, TCS contributor, says: “Steep the herbs by storing them in a dark place (such as a cabinet) for six weeks, shaking every day. Then strain.”
Links For You
- Non-GMO, palm-derived glycerin at Bulk Herb Store
- 8-quart Instant Pot or 6-quart Instant Pot
- The Beginner's Guide to Adaptogens eBook by Heather Dessinger
Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor. All information is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You are responsible for your own health and for the use of any remedies, treatments, or medications you use at home.
Do you make or use glycerin-based, non-alcoholic herbal extracts (herbal glycerites) at home? What are your favorite herbs and how do you use them?
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