Thursday, July 22, 2010

Echinacea: Attractive and Medicinal

This beauty has been standing proud in the garden for a month, and I want to enjoy it for many more.  

I'm making a tincture of the herb as an immune booster to use come cold season.  First, I harvest some of the flowers.  (I much prefer the earthy root mixture but can't bear to dig it up right now - so I'll settle for the blossoms, leaves and stem.)  

I crush it down in a Mason jar and cover it in 80 proof alcohol (Vodka was the only 80 proof in my liquor store.  It'll do.) 

It's important that the flower is dunked completely.  Leaving half an inch or more of extra fluid on top will ensure that the plant remains submerged if the blossoms swell.  

Fini!  My work is done.  Now it's all alchemy.  The alcohol macerates the echinacea, extracting the herb's medicinal properties.

I'll shake the bottle from time to time and keep an eye that everything floral in nature remains submerged.  In four to six weeks, I'll strain it through cheesecloth and transfer the mixture to little dropper bottles.  The alcohol will preserve the echinacea, so there's no rush to use it up... this vintage can age as long as needed.

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