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Making tinctures

French Foodie Jul 23, 2009 02:40 PM

Has anyone had any experience making their own tinctures in general or with quinine specifically? Are there any guidelines to making one's own? I've looked around a bit and haven't found much information around here. Is it simply a matter of mascerating the herb/other item in 100 proof vodka or everclear and then filtering? Any general durations for masceration times?

  1. w
    wetdog2 Jul 28, 2009 06:31 AM

    As a base, I use a neutral tasting vodka but I was going more for an infusion than a tincture. But time proved to be the big factor. My first attempt, I made a basil infusion that ended up undrinkable - too long (3 days). The next time, I took several different herbs and lemon zest and did a rough chop. Left it for 24 hours in the fridge and strained it through a sieve. Perfect. Strong, clean flavors. I didn't touch it all during the maceration for fear of getting cloudy bits floating around. I've also infused vodka with fruit and ginger, which I blogged about: http://goodbadmarty.blogspot.com/2009...

    1. JMF Jul 24, 2009 03:38 AM

      Sometimes you read or hear about long maceration times, but I have found that many ground spices and herbs only need a few hours. Just about everything is extracted withing 24 hours, with almost any botanical. Longer macerations tend to bring in muddy or nasty bitter notes. Even with bitter substances where you want the bitter, you get all you need within 24 hours. Major gin companies who macerate the botanicals before distillation usually only go for 12-24 hours. Play around with it and try 2 ounce batches with a tsp of the botanical. Shake well for a few minutes then taste at 20 minutes, 40, an hour, two hours, etc. and take notes. Using 195 proof NGS will get stronger and faster tinctures, with deeper flavors, as compared with 100 proof vodka, in the same amount of time.

      3 Replies
      1. re: JMF
        French Foodie Jul 24, 2009 09:18 AM

        Thanks for the thoughts JMF. I was leaning towards the NGS, but wasn't entirely sure. As far as filtering the tincture, would staining trhough multi-layered cheesecloth be sufficient for most things, or is distilling necessary? As far as tasting the tincture, do you reccommend a couple drops in some water as the best means of tasting? I know what I will be working on this weekend...

        1. re: French Foodie
          JMF Jul 28, 2009 05:55 AM

          Just filter, distilling is illegal without a federal permit, and filtering works fine. It depends upon how fine the botanical is. You can rough filter large stuff out with cheesecloth, then through a bandanna or paper towel, then a coffee filter. then through several layers of coffee filters. it all depends upon whether you need a relatively clear colored liquid, or don't mind a slightly cludy tincture. For cocktails I never mind if it is a touch cloudy.

          As for tasting, try a drop straight, and then water it down to around 25-30% abv. See if the flavor profiles changes from high proof to low proof, just for the fun of it.

          1. re: JMF
            French Foodie Jul 28, 2009 09:09 AM

            Thanks for the info JMF. I'm excited to try something new, perhaps this weekend after I get paid...

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