You know it's going to be a delight to make an echinacea tincture that begins with a butterfly photograph, am-I-right?
I'm right. Take a deep breath… in and out… another deep breath… there you go. Don't you feel better? Now stare at the butterfly below, take another breath, and then we'll move onto this homemade echinacea tincture.
I spotted this monarch from my kitchen window. It overlooks the echinacea patch that is joyfully bursting forth with the very best it has to offer at the moment. I watched it hop from flower to flower for the better part of five minutes before I finally grabbed my camera to capture it. It was practically begging me to take a snap of it's epic and fleeting beauty. It unrolled it's long tongue to gently slurp up the nectar before fluttering along to the next echinacea bloom in line.
Fluttering is a funny word, isn't it? A word that we almost solemnly reserve for describing how a butterfly flies, as I've just done.
I've had a hard time fluttering in my day. I spent the better part of the last decade of my life heavily waddling around in pregnancy induced walking habits. But not this year, man! This year, I'm not pregnant or nursing. And it's as if the world has opened up in an entirely new way!
Allow me to quote from my husband's favorite move, Braveheart:
So instead of being pregnant and nursing as I've done for oh-so-long, I am instead fluttering (not waddling) around in the kitchen cooking up tinctures and salves, drying cherries and apricots, stirring up large pots of jams and jellies, sippin' afternoon mint mojitos, and enjoying the life that we've planted here on the farm.
Part of that included planting half a dozen echinacea plants last year when we built the potager. They were beautiful enough last year as they took root and began to grow. But this year. THIS YEAR? They're six feet tall and blooming like mad.
Dare I say they're my current favorite flower? (Sorry, hydrangeas, I didn't mean it…)
Not only are they completely swoon worthy (did I mention that I stare at them while I do my dishes seventeen times a day?), but they also serve us well in terms of our wellness. Echinacea has been used for it's medicinal benefits for centuries and I'm excited to be in on that action. Finally.
A tincture is nothing more than a liquid extract of something that you take orally for it's medicinal benefit. Thus, echinacea tincture is simply the liquid extract of the echinacea plant that will be taken orally throughout the winter months when our immune systems tend to be at their weakest. For our echinacea tincture, we'll be using alcohol. This will keep it shelf stable for many years and will draw further benefits from the plant. Glycerin is another option.
Echinacea leaves, flowers, roots, and stems are all of medicinal benefit. Thus, all of them shall go in our tincture. This time of year, I'll be utilizing all but the roots – as I'd like the plants to stay alive and giving for the months ahead.
Immune system stimulation, baby. Echinacea promotes strong, powerful immune systems and serves your body to defend against all the nasties. And yes, “all the nasties” is a medical terms, I'm sure. It an also help to lessen the power of a cold and shorten it's duration.
The petals, stems, leaves, and flower buds are simply picked clean of debris and bugs before they're placed in a sealable container. Cover the entire contents of the container with cheap vodka (or alcohol of choice). If using fresh plants, as we've done in our echinacea tincture, you're aiming roughly for a ratio of 1 part flower weight to 2 parts vodka weight.
If you'd like to up the potency of your echinacea tincture, simply grind, dice, or chop up the fresh flowers and leaves before putting them in the container. This will increase the surface area of the flower and increase the speed and potency of the tincture making process.
I'm not a rule follower… or a measurer… or anything else I probably should be, so I just shoved my jar full of the goodies and poured the vodka over the top. I know, I know. Type-A people everywhere hate me, I'm sure. I'm a monster.
The tincture will take 2 or 3 months to cure, so it will be placed in a dark cupboard (away from sunlight) where it can extract all that goodness while I do other stuff.
Like make more echinacea tincture.
Or bake bread.
Or clean my bathroom for the 19th time today (PS: I have four children for sale if you're in the market).
I'm kidding. I can't sell them!
Who would unload my dishwasher?