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How to Make a Glycerite: DIY Medicine

How To Make A Glycerite: DIY Medicine

How to Make a Glycerite

A herbal glycerite are a delicious way to extract herbal constituents. For adults who cannot tolerate alcohol, glycerites are a welcome break from teas or syrups. For parents, glycerites are a crafty way to administer potent but normally unpalatable medicine to fussy children. For people with an upset stomach or a peptic ulcer, a glycerite is welcomed over a tincture any day.

Glycerine is available in the pharmacy with skin care or in soap making supply stores. Try shopping on-line for glycerine if you are planning to make large batches of medicine. Remember, vegetable glycerine has a short expiration date so only make the amount you think that your family will take in a year.  Only a small batch like this appropriate for home use. This recipe is easy to make in a few hours.

Herbal Glycerite Tutorial

HT_herbalinfusions-29This is a basic procedure, not a recipe. Feel free to adjust the measurements in this procedure; they are there to give you a good guideline for the right proportions. The main thing to remember is that glycerites are prone to spoilage. The bacteria and fungus that cause them problems are retarded by refrigeration, preservatives and a glycerine content that does not slip below 70 percent. I usually shoot for 75 percent glycerine to 25 percent water just to be safe. The addition of the essential oil acts as a preservative and flavor booster. Powdered ascorbic acid is a wonderful antioxidant. If you don’t have it available, crush a 500 mg vitamin C pill in a mortar and pestle (mano y matate) to a fine powder to add to mix instead.

For specific recipes using this technique, see The Practical Herbalist Recipes.

Equipment You’ll Need to Make Herbal Glycerite:

  • Kettle or pot to boil water
  • Heat proof, resealable glass container
  • Strainer
  • unbleached coffee filter or cheesecloth
  • 2 or 4 cup measuring cup
  • Funnel
  • small non-reactive pot
  • heat proof, resealable storage jar
  • Label and pen

Ingredients for Making Herbal Glycerite:

  • 1 Tbsp. dried herb or 1/4 cup fresh herb
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 1/2 cup glycerine
  • 5-6 drops of essential oil
  • 1/4 tsp ascorbic acid (preservation option)

Procedure for Making Herbal Glycerite:

  1. Make a strong infusion by boiling the water then adding it to the dried or fresh herbs in a resealable, heat-proof glass or other non-reactive container and let it stand covered for half an hour or more.
  2. Place the coffee filter or cheesecloth in the strainer and rest the strainer on the 2 or 4 cup measuring cup.
  3. Strain the herb from your infusion in the strainer.
  4. Add 1/2 cup of the strained liquid to the glycerin to a non-reactive pot.
  5. Gently heat the mixture over medium to low heat.
  6. Allow the mixture to slowly reduce until it is roughly the consistency of honey.
  7. Add the ascorbic acid powder or finely crushed vitamin C pill (optional) and stir until dissolved.
  8. Pour the herbal glycerite into a heat-proof glass container using the funnel.
  9. Label the bottle with the name of the mixture and the date of production.
  10. Add 5 to 6 drops of your chosen essential oil (optional) and cap the bottle.

Storing an Herbal Glycerite

You can transfer your finished glycerite in a smaller bottle with a dropper top in addition to the larger refill bottle. Keep your herbal glycerite in a sealed container in the refrigerator or a cool, dark place. In the refrigerator, it will last one year or more. If the top of the dropper bottle starts to swell, that means it is fermenting and is no longer safe for consumption.

Essential Oil Suggestions

Matching the flavor of the essential oil and the herb you make the initial infusion with is an art. Some flavors are trickier to match than others. Some reliable essential oils that seem to accentuate most herbs are listed below.

  • orange essential oil
  • lemon essential oil
  • fennel essential oil
  • spearmint essential oil

Sue Sierralupe

Sue Sierralupé is a Certified Master Herbalist, Master Gardener and Sustainable Landscape Specialist. She is the clinic manager and lead herbalist at Occupy Medical clinic. Sue is author of The Pocket Herbal: Medicinal Plants that Changed the World and co-author of The Practical Herbalist Herbal Folios series. Follow her blog at Herbalism Manifesto for commentary on herbs, parenting, nutrition and a whole lot more.


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