Tinctures by the Ratio Method
The Ratio method can help get your tinctures more consistent. There’s a few more steps than in the Folk Method, but if you can bake bread, you can do this.
Step 1: Gather, clean and prepare your herbs. Towel dry them or let them air dry a little if you’ve just washed them so that any excess water doesn’t interfere with making a strong tincture.
Step 2: Weigh the bowl you will be using. We want to weigh the herb, not the bowl as well, so setting the weight of the bowl to zero is how we’ll start. My scale has a button that says ‘tare‘.
Step 3: Weigh your herb.
Step 4: Measure the correct amount of alcohol.
The alcohol is the solvent in which the herbal compounds will be dissolved and extracted from the plant material. Technically, it is called the ‘menstrum’.
Interestingly, the word ‘menstrum’ comes from the Latin ‘ mensis‘ which is also the origin of our word ‘month’. The reason for the name is that, in the old days, a tincture was prepared on the new moon and bottled on the full moon – a period of a month. There are various mystical reasons for this but I reckon it was because folks didn’t have calendars on their fridges to remind them when they started the process.
The ‘correct’ amount will depend on whether you are using fresh herbs or dried herbs. The ratios of alcohol to herb are –
- Fresh herbs 2 alcohol : 1 herb
- Dried herbs 5 alcohol : 1 herb
More alcohol is needed with dried herbs because it will need to soak in to the material and wet it enough to be able to extract the compounds that we want. You can pre-soak the dried material for a couple of hours in water or in alcohol of a lower concentration but this will result in a weaker tincture.
Step 5: Chop the herbs. I cut coarsely, then add to a blender.
Step 6: Add the alcohol and blend thoroughly.
Step 7: Pour the mix into your jar. You don’t completely fill the jar so that when you shake the bottle to mix the herb and alcohol together, there is plenty of room for movement and mixing.
Step 8: Label the jar. I like to label my tinctures with the taxonomic name of the herb to save any confusion, the percentage of the alcohol used, the ratio used and the date that the tincture was started.
Step 9: Put the bottle in a warm, dry place. Shake daily for a week or two to allow the alcohol to make contact with all of the herbal material.
Step 10: After 2 weeks to a month, press out the alcohol, strain and bottle. Store the bottle in a cool, dark place as sunlight can have a negative reaction with the tincture.
Don’t forget to label the bottle!
Unlike the Folk Method, which takes a month to macerate, the Ratio Method can yield results more quickly because the herb is reduced to a much finer size and well mixed with the alcohol in the blender.