Herbs – they are used in so many different ways. In this article we will discuss the ways to extract herbs and get the best use out of them.
Herbs are so beneficial to us in many ways. They can be used for healing, aroma, and cooking. There are two primary ways of Herbal extraction: Solvent and Water. Lets take a look at each of these and how they are done.
The Solvent Extraction Method used several types of solvents to get the Herbs ready for therapeutic use. A solvent is chosen and the herbs are soaked for two weeks (form the new moon until the full moon is best for the most drawing power). Usually this is done in a glass jar placed in a paper bag. The jar should be shaken each day. The most common solvents are alcohol (rum and vodka), glycerol, and vinegar. Then the liquid is strained and used for therapy and medicine. When alcohol is used in this method it is called a Tincture. To qualify as a tincture the alcoholic extract is to have an ethanol percentage of at least 40-60% and sometimes a 90% pure liqued is even achieved. are Several herbs can be mixed to achieve a desired effect.
The Water Extraction Method uses hot or cold water as the primary solvent. It is like the Solvent method but quicker, easier, and also less expensive. This method will extract the water soluble components like Tannins, Bitters, and Glycosides. This method does have disadvantages; the extract is not the same amount as the Solvent Method and does not last as long. Therefore the Solvent Method is more thorough but for a beginner starting out the Water Method would be more beneficial.
Decoction is a Water Extraction. This is done by mashing the herbs (stems and roots also) and placed in boiling water for around ten minutes then Straining. Some teas and coffee (prepared the traditional way) are decoctions, but usually teas and infusions are NOT boiled. Decoction is the traditional method used in breweries.
Infusion is another Water Extraction. Infusion is similar to the decoction but it uses herbs that are more volatile or that dissolve readily in water. The water is boiled and poured over the herb and allowed to steep for a time, (usually around 15 to 30 minutes) then it is cooled and bottled and refrigerated for future use. Tea is a great example of this method.
Herbs have long been used in the healing of our bodies, in flavoring of our food and for aromas. So the next time you sit back with a hot coup of tea on a cold winters day and inhale the aroma……think back, relax, and enjoy.