tinctures a plenty, part two

Yikes! It's been quite a while since my last post. Almost an entire month! So much for one post each week, right? 

I don't have too many excuses aside from the job completely digesting my life and sanity. I'm working really hard on disassociating and disconnecting from the stress and drama, and I've been making progress, so that's good. Even so, I have such a hard time dealing with stress. I have a hard time getting home and wanting to do anything other than lay on the couch, much less learn about herbs! But no worries, I'm changing and growing, and making myself better. 

More cheerfully, I was out of state for several days visiting a friend. This was an awesome trip, and doubled as a belated honeymoon for my partner and I. It was our first big vacation together, my first time flying, and my first time seeing my best friend in almost a year. The experience was spectacular all-around, and it reminded me of the importance of living while you're alive (as opposed to putting off living until the weekend, or until your next job, or until you have enough money, etc). We both came back feeling renewed and ready to mold our lives into something that better suits us. Yay!

Anyway, it's the week of October 20th, and that means that it's time to strain my tinctures. Several sources I've read said that I don't actually need to strain them, but I thought I'd do it anyway, just to follow the process all the way through. Now that I have the hang of it, maybe I won't always do it in the future, but I do like the way the liquid looks without any plant material. 

If you remember, I tinctured lemon balm, red clover, and peppermint a while back. Since then, I also started a thyme tincture, which still has a few weeks until it's ready. 

Straining was really easy. I just dumped the liquid and plant material into a fine sieve and pressed out the liquid with a slotted spoon. I expected that when the plants were removed, I'd be left with about a half jar of tincture- but I was wrong! I only lost about an inch of liquid in each jar. 

See? When It's all done and re-bottled, it's so pretty. It smells nice, too. 

Time for the red clover!

The liquid is much more viscous that plain vodka. It looks appetizing, and smells lightly floral. 

All done! That's lemon balm to the left, three jars of red clover in the middle, and one jar of peppermint on the right.

I'm excited that these are ready to be used! Going into the winter with a good supply of preserved herbs is always a good idea. Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is calming, generally soothing (mentally and physically), and is a common safeguard against depression and sadness. I made a large batch of this, figuring we could use all the help we can get to get through the dark cold months (and Seasonal Affective Disorder). Lemon balm also helps reduce fevers and settle upset stomachs (think day after Thanksgiving). 

Red clover (Trifolium pratense) can act as an antiviral, and helps reduce inflammation. The fresh herb is astringent, and can be used as a wash for acne, so I'm excited to experiment with the tincture to see if it can be used the same way. (This herb is the one I'm least sure what to do with. I made three jars because I gathered a bunch, not because I had a plan for it!)

Peppermint (Mentha piperita) is the digestive herb. A little batch of this should help us all with typical holiday overeating. It's also stimulating and uplifting—a little more cheer to help beat seasonal depression. And it's known to break fevers and induce sweating. Good to have around if we get colds!

Typically, tinctures are taken orally, or added to juice (or water, blegh!), but I'm excited to try cooking with them. I wonder if I can cook out the alcohol, but leave the herb essence in the food? Let's find out! Who wants some lemon-pepper chicken served with a lemon balm reduction? This guy. 


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