Using Herbs

Wal cautions .. One must take care with herbs and spices - natural does not mean it is not dangerous to predators like humans. The plants are protecting themselves.

I believe in using natural herbs and spices rather than commercial essences, which I agree are definitively more convenient, but then buying a bottle of liquor from a store is also more convenient.

Herbal liqueurs are made from a large number of herbs and spices. In the 15th -19th centuries these liqueurs were used for their medicinal properties. Most liqueurs contain approximately 30% sugar which is best to use as a sugar syrup - 1 lb (450 g) sugar, 1 cup (250 ml) water, 1/4 tsp acid. Simmer for about 15 minutes.

The principal herbs and spices used for making liqueurs at home:
  • Allspice berries (Pimenta Dioica Merr.)
  • Angelica root and seeds (Angelica Archangelica L.)
  • Anise seeds (Pimpinela Anisum L.)
  • Cardamon seeds (Elettaria Cardamomum Maton)
  • Cinnamon bark (Cinnamomum Zeylanicum Bl.)
  • Cloves flower buds (Eugenia Carophylata Thunb.)
  • Coriander seeds (Coriandrum Sativum L.)
  • Fennel seeds and tops (Foeniculum Vulgare Mill.)
  • Gentian root (Gentiana Lutea L.)
  • Hyssop leaves (Hyssopus Officinalis L.)
  • Juniper berries (Juniperus Communis L.)
  • Lemon Balm leaves (Melissa Officinalis L.)
  • Marjoram leaves (Origanum Majorana L.)
  • Oregano leaves (Origanum Vulgare L.)
  • Peppermint leaves (MenthaxPiperata L.)
  • Star anise seeds (Illicium Verum Hook)
  • Thyme leaves (Thymus Vulgaris L.)
  • Tumeric root (Curcuma Longa L.)
  • Vanilla seeds (Vanilla Planifolia Andr.)

Winemakers are taught that there are only four tastes: sweet, sour, salt and bitter - all other tastes aresaid to be aromas or smells. For vermouth one works also with 3 sensations: warmth, coolness and tingling. Vermouth is a fortified wine flavored with herbs and spices. The most common herbs and spices used are angelica, aloe juice, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, gentian, hyssop,lemon balm, marjoram, mace, orange peel (bitter & sweet), quinine, sage and thyme, wormwood.

Some herbs have a definite pharmacological effect and should be used with care - e.g. valerian root, St John's wort, meadowsweet. If in doubt look it up on the Internet: A Russian site gives the following amounts of herbs and spices (grams/litre, to be steeped for 2 weeks in alcohol) to achieve various flavors. They can be combined, but need to be reduced proportionally.

Herb/Spice Quantity ( grams/litre)
Orange peel 50-100
Lemon peel 60-250
Bitter orange peel 2.5-50
Rosemary 0.5-1
Saffron 0.1-0.5
Star anise 3-20
Cinnamon 3-15
Vanilla 0.5-2
Bay leaves 0.5-2
Cardamon 4-20
Nutmeg 3-6
Pimento (allspice) 3-6
Ginger 1.5-12
Cloves 0.6-3
Black pepper 2-24

Aperatives and Digestives (bitters). The aperitif serves to stimulate the appetite. e.g. vermouth wines. Spirit based ones include the Italian Aperol (11%abv) which is made from an infusion of rhubarb root, quinine, gentian and bitter orange peel). Jagermeister is a well known German after dinner drink based on various herbs. They had their origin in medicines prepared by monks.. Honey/sugar, and spices were added to alleviate the bitterness. Modern cough mixtures remind us of this background.

Bitters

Amaro means bitter in Italian. It is a herbal infusion in alcohol and amari (plural of amaro) are still popular in Italy as digestives, or after dinner drinks. There are many brands on the market. The bitter taste is imparted by wormwood, gentian root, quinine, centaury, bitter orange peel,rhubarb, hops, cascarilla, nettles. Aroma is provided by juniper, anise, coriander, hyssop, fennel, cinnamon, cardamon, nutmeg, rosemary, lavender, caraway, camomile, peppermint, tumeric, vanilla, lemon balm, sage, marjoram, oregano, angelica root, orris root, thyme, sweet calamus root.

'Fernet Branca' produced in Milan since 1845, contains aloe, bay leaves, wormwood, aniseed, bitter orange peel, basil, cardamon, liquorice, nutmeg, peppermint and saffron. See the 'Amaro alle erbe' recipe at http://italianfood.miningco.com/library/rec/blr0484.htm

A recipe for a simple Amaro or Bitters:
  • 5 leaves melissa (lemon balm)
  • 5 leaves sage
  • 10 leaves (not sprigs) rosemary
  • 10 leaves wormwood
  • Flowering top of a European centaury plant (from herbal shop)
  • 15 juniper berries
  • 5 cloves
  • 12mm piece cinnamon
  • A piece of orris root (Florentine Iris)
  • A piece of calamus root ( Sweet Flag)
  • A piece of gentian root
  • 2/3 cups water
The wormwood, centaury and gentian provide the bitterness. Macerate herbs in alcohol for a 2 weeks, add sugar syrup. Strain, pace in a bottle and allow to age.

Most recipes for herbal liqueurs have between 40-100 g of herbs/litre of alcohol. I came across a French site with a recipe that uses laurel tree berries rather than the leaves.

Recipe for 'Liqueur de Laurier' :
  • 100 g laurel (bay tree) berries
  • 4 g nutmeg
  • 1 clove
  • 1 litre alcohol (50%bv)
  • 750 g sugar
  • 500 ml water

Marialuisa's Liqueur
  • 100 verbena leaves
  • 1 lemon (quartered)
  • 600 g sugar
  • 600 ml alcohol
  • 500 ml water
Macerate verbena leaves and quartered lemon in alcohol. Strain. Add sugar syrup.

Mint Liqueur
  • 35 mint leaves
  • peel of 1 lemon
  • 300 g sugar
  • 300 ml water
  • 300 ml alcohol
Macerate mint leaves in alcohol for 4 weeks. Strain. Make a sugar syrup, boiling together the lemon peel. Cool and add to alcohol.

from 'Sicilian Home Cooking' by W & G Tornabee:

Bay Leaf Liqueur
  • 2 cups (500ml) neutral spirit (40%bv)
  • 2 cups water (500ml)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 50 fresh bay laurel leaves
  • 1 large cinnamon stick
  • zest from a large lemon
Steep for 2 weeks. Filter. Add sugar syrup. Bottle and age.

Wild Fennel

Wal writes ..
    An Italian from Campania province told me that he uses 13 flowering tops of wild fennel per one litre of grappa.

    A common liqueur in Italy is 'Liquore de Finocchietto Selvatico' (30%abv) obtained by the maceration of the tops of wild fennel (not seeds like aniseed based liqueurs) with added sugar. It apparently has digestive properties.

Vermouth

Vemouth arose when an amaro was added to wine. Proportions varied to suit individual tastes. The first commercial success is credited to Antonio Carpano from Turin who began selling a pre-blended formula in 1786 he named 'Punt e mes' (one and a half). In 1813, Joseph Noilly of Lyons, France created a French dry vermouth based on delicate whites infused with wormwood and local plants. 'Vermouth' is the French term for the German 'wermut'(wormwood), the principal bittering agent. In Europe vermouth is drunk as an aperitif or pre-dinner drink. Dry vermouth is essential to add to your gin to make a martini cocktail.

The most basic recipe I have seen is from a French site -
  • 1 handful of wormwood
  • 1 litre red wine
  • 1 glass neutral alcohol
  • 1 glass of sugar
  • 1 star anise
Macerate wormwood in the wine for 5 days, strain. Add alcohol, sugar and star anise. Remove star anise after several days.

A more complex recipe for vermouth is found at - http://www.makewine.com/winemaking/methods/vermouth/

Came across a recipe for 20 litres of vermouth at 20%abv which could be also made with a neutral spirit base or to camouflage something less successful. Steep for a week. Centaury, Gentian, Wormwood provide the bitterness. Quinine bark, woodruff, yarrow, elecampane,tonka beans are not readily available. Tonka beans have aromatic coumarins but also contain high amounts of thujone.
  • Herb Quantity (grams/20L)
  • Wormwood 14
  • Oregano 7
  • Elecampagne 7
  • Blessed thistle 7
  • Lemon bslm leaf 7
  • Yarrow 3
  • Cantaury 3
  • Gentian 3
  • Angelica root 1
  • Camomile 1
  • Tonka beans 7
  • Orange peel 3
  • Quinine bark 1
  • Saffron 1
  • Plus a total of 1g mix of Majoram, Rosemary, Sage, Summer savory, Basil, Thyme.

From an Italian site (liquori fatti in casa) a recipe for vermouth (which is quite unusual to find).

Vermouth:
  • 1 litre white wine
  • 150 g sugar
  • cinnamon
  • cloves
  • wormwood
  • sage
  • coriander
  • gentian root
  • peel from 2 oranges
Steep in the wine, a pinch each of the herbs and spices, for 3 days. Strain, add sugar, bottle. Consume after 15 days. The wormwood and gentian proveid the bitterness, the other herbs and spices are for flavor.

Highland Bitters

"In Scotland bitters were traditionally drunk before meals, especially breakfast, 'for the purpose of strenthening the stomache, and by that means invigorating the general health'. Any kind of spirit could be used and sometimes wine or ale.
  • 1 and 3/4 oz (55 g) gentian root
  • 1 oz (30 g) coriander seed
  • 1/2 oz (15 g) bitter orange peel
  • 1/4 oz (7 g) chamomile flowers
  • 1/2 oz (15 g) cloves (whole)
  • 1/2 oz (15 g) cinnamon stick
  • 2 bottles whisky
Finely chop the gentian root and orange peel (free of pith).Place in mortar with seeds, cloves, cinnamon and chamomile flowers. Bruise all together, place in an earthernware jar, pour in the whisky and make the jar air-tight. Leave for ten days, then strain and bottle." ('A Country Cup' W. Paterson, 1980)

Wilma Paterson who hails from Skye, also gives her recipe for Heather Ale using heather (Erica cinerea; Erica tetralix, Calluna vulgaris) instead of hops. She says that there are records of heather being used as late as the 18th and 19th centuries.

Heather Ale:
  • 1 gallon (4.5 litres) heather tops
  • 2 lb (1 kg) malt extract
  • 1 and 1/2 lb (700 g) sugar
  • 3 gals (13.5 l) water
  • 1 oz (30 g) yeast
Cut the heather tops with scissors when in full bloom, but not overblown, and boil them in 1 gal (4.5 l) of the water for nearly an hour. Strain on to the malt extract and sugar through a jelly bag and stir till dissolved. Add remaining water and , when lukewarm, add the dried yeast.

'Aperol' from Italy is a low-alcohol aperitif made from rhubarb, gentian, quinine, biter orange peel.

For information on herbs in the recipes see: http://www.botanical.com

With so many differing versions on the market, the home distiller can experiment to produce equally valid ones.

For those who don't want to use sugar to sweeten their liqueurs you can use stevia powder(from health food shops) or fresh stevia leaves. A sugar syrup substitute can be made by infusing 10 leaves of fresh stevia leaves in 200ml of boiled water.

Grappa alla Stevia
  • 1litre grappa
  • 50 leaves of stevia
Macerate for 2 weeks

Spanish Herb Liqueur
  • 2 and 1/4 cups dry anise liqueur (raki, ouzo)
  • 2 and 1/4 cups sweet anise liqueur (anisette, sambuca white)
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 3 sprigs rosemary
  • 3 sprigs savory
  • 1 sprig lemon verbena
  • 6 sage laves
  • 6 mint leaves
  • peel 1/2 orange
Macerate herbs and peel in dry and sweet liqueurs for 2 months. Strain and bottle. Put a couple sprigs of herbs in the bottle.

Italian Herb Liqueur (Liquore di erbe)
  • 200 ml alcohol 95%bv
  • 500 ml water
  • 400 g sugar
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 1 sprig of rosemary
  • 10 mint leaves
  • 10 camomile flowers
  • 10 sweet basil leaves
  • 10 lemon leaves
  • 15 sage leaves
  • 3 cloves
  • 3 saffron filaments
Steep botanicals in alcohol for 20 days. Add sugar syrup. Strain. Age for 4 weeks before consuming.


Many herbal liqueurs were originally monastic elixirs and their recipes remain secret. Here is a recipe which claims to be that for Trappistine which came from a French site. It does give an indication of the herbs and spices that were used, and could be used as a basis for your own experimentation.

Trappistine (for 2.5 L at 35%abv)
  • 10 g true wormwood
  • 10 g cardamon
  • 10 g angelica
  • 30 g mint leaves
  • 5 g myrrh
  • 7.5 g melissa
  • 5 g sweet flag (acorus calamus)
  • 1 g cinnamon
  • 0.5 g mace
  • 1 g cloves
  • 1 litre alcohol 85%bv
  • 300 ml water
  • 900 g sugar
Macerate and redistill. Add sugar, and saffron to color yellow.

Persicot is now extinct. Here is a recipe for 2 litres (36%abv) of the clear liqueur.
  • 90 g bitter almonds (you could use apricot kernels)
  • 12 g lemon peel
  • 4 g cassia bark
  • 1 g nutmeg
  • 1 g cloves
  • 450 g sugar
  • 930 ml water
  • 850 ml alcohol (84%abv)
Macerate for several days and redistill

Krambambuli is another exinct liqueur. Here is a recipe for 2 litres (40%abv).
  • 8 g roman chamomile
  • 6 g fresh anise leaves
  • 4 g sage
  • 4 g marjoram
  • 6 g cinnamon
  • 6 g sweet flag
  • 6 g gentian
  • 4 g galangal
  • 4 g lavender flowers
  • 4 g cardamon
  • 40 g sugar
  • 831 ml water
  • 944 ml alcohol (84%bv)
  • 4 g orange peel
Macerate for several days and redistill. Color with orange peel.

Benedictine

The monasteries of the Middle Ages had a proud alcoholic reputation. Monastic orders still make wine, beer and liqueurs, and their religious fervour has a commercial streak. The most famous are Benedictine and Chartreuse. Only Chartreuse is presently controlled by monks. The secret formula for Benedictine, believed lost when the Abbey of Fecamp in Normandy was destroyed in 1789 during the French Revolution, turned up in 1863 in the house of Alexandre Le Grand. He modernised the elixir of 27 plants and spices and called it Benedictine. D.O.M. on the label stands for 'Deo Optimo Maximo'(To God, most good, most great). The recipe is said to contain angelica root, arnica flowers, orange peel, thyme, cardamon, peppermint, cassia, hyssop, cloves and cognac. There is a complex Benedictine recipe from an old English pharmaceutical book in - http://www.guntheranderson.com/liqueurs/benedict.htm Others that I have seen certainly do not contain as many herbs and spices.

Chartreuse

Chartreuse is still made under the control of Carthusian monks near Grenoble in the French Alps. The formula for this 'elixir de longue vie' or elixir for longetivity was give to the Monastery of the Grand Chartreuse in the 17th century by the Marechal d'Estrees. A total of 130 ingredients are in the formula. They are macerated in alcohol and redistilled. The original Elixir is 71%abv, Green is 55%abv and the sweeter yellow 40%abv. Both of these have honey added before being aged in casks for 8 years, although Chartreuse VEP is kept longer. Personally I believe that macerating so many herbs, and then redistilling produces a very complex vodka, which when sweetened with honey produces a liqueur - one which could be emulated by the home distiller as a 'variation on a theme' (Pepsi is a valid variation of Coca Cola although both arrived at their formula independently). The roots of herbal liqueurs lie in Italian monasteries and originally were herbal medicines. 'Centerbe' (100 herbs), 'amaro' (bitters), infused wines(vermouth) are still popular in Italy. Strega (witch in Italian) which was invented in 1860 contains 70 botanicals which are macerated and redistilled. Galliano contains 40 herbs and spices with anise and vanilla quite prominent.
As an example, from a French site a Chartreuse type elixir is given for "distestion difficulties and intestinal troubles."
  • 1 litre alcohol (90%bv)
  • 1 litre water
  • 2 g star anise
  • 1 g angelica root
  • 1 g carraway seeds
  • 10 g coriander seeds
  • 1 g sage
  • 0.5 g saffron
  • 700 g honey
Crush seeds, steep for 1 week. Strain and add 1 litre of water and honey. Leave for 24 hours. Strain again and bottle.

for old liqueurs, including what purports to be Chartreuse. Its in French, but the ingredients repeat, so you can get by with a good dictionary. There is a partial gastronomic glossary at http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/vinnytt/fdicepic.htm

Found 4 more so-called "Chartreuse" recipes at a French site - http://perso.wanadoo.fr/hugues.sauvage/tablerecette.html. It would be more accurate to call them French Herbal Liqueurs as they do not have anywhere near 130 herbs that the original reputedly has. Those interested in herbal infusions should find them useful.

Green 'Chartreuse' 1
  • 5g chopped spinach leaves
  • 45g myrrh
  • 9g mace
  • 60g hyssop
  • 70g glace angelica
  • 10g fresh angelica stems
  • 50g fresh melissa leaves
  • 50g mint
  • 50g orange blossoms
  • 1 litre alcohol (80%bv)
  • 800g sugar
Macerate the spinach in 200ml of alcohol. Macerate the other ingredients in alcohol, in a separate jar, for 2 weeks.Filter. Add sugar and spinach infusion. Age for 1 week. Bottle.

Green 'Chartreuse' 2
  • 1g star anise
  • 10g coriander
  • 1g sage leaves
  • 1g melissa leaves
  • 1g mint leaves
  • 1g angelica leaves
  • 10g tansy
  • 0.5g saffron
  • 700g sugar
  • 2 litres water
  • 1 litre alcohol 90%bv
Crush coriander and star anise. Chop herbs (except tansy and saffron) and macerate in alcohol for 18 hours. Add tansy, saffron and macerate for an additional 6 hours. Add sugar syrup (700g sugar in 2l water). Filter and bottle.

Yellow 'Chartreuse' 1
  • 4.5g saffron
  • 1.5g cinnmon
  • 4g coriander
  • 6g melissa
  • 6g fresh hyssop stems and leaves
  • 3g angelica
  • 1 litre alcohol 90%bv
  • 300g sugar
Crush coriander and cinnamon, then add saffron. Place all the botanicals in a jar with lid. Macerate in alcohol for 2 weeeks. Filter. Add sugar. Age for several days. Bottle.

Yellow 'Chartreuse' 2
  • 2g nutmeg
  • 1g angelica root
  • 2g star anise
  • 1g fennel seeds
  • 1g carraway seeds
  • 1g cumin seeds
  • 0.25g saffron threads
  • 1litre neutral alcohol 70%bv
  • 250ml water
  • 1kg sugar
Place botanicals in a large glass jar with lid. Macerate botanicals in alcohol for 3 days. Filter. Add sugar syrup (1kg sugar in 250ml water). Age for 1 week. Bottle.


Here is another which relies just on steeping:

Grand Chartreuse
  • 400ml alcohol 95% abv
  • 300ml distilled water
  • 250g sugar
  • 10g lemon balm (melissa)
  • 5g fresh hyssop
  • 3g angelica root
  • 1g coriander seed
  • 0.5g cinnamon
  • 0.5g mace
  • 0.5g fennel seed
  • 1 clove
Crush spices. Place botanicals in a glass container with lid and macerate in alcohol for 2 weeks, agitating twice a day. Add sugar syrup. Leave for several days. Filter and bottle.


Dirk writes ..
    Here I am with the recipe I found in an old book.

    First the chartreuse-essence:
    • Peppermint-oil 3 parts
    • lemon-oil 4 parts
    • cassia-oil 2 parts
    • clove-oil 2 parts
    • mace-oil 3 parts
    • russian anis-oil 2 parts
    • angelica-oil 80 parts
    • bitter almond-oil 1 part
    • wormwood-oil 40 parts
    • neroli-oil 2 parts
    • cognac-oil 30 parts
    • alcohol 600 parts
    To make the chartreuse:
    • alcohol 12.5 liter
    • chartreuse-essence 5 grams
    • sugar-syrup of 65% 4.5 liter
    • water 12.5 liter
    This is all I got from the book.On a website, I read that the green coloring was done with chlorofyl.

Wal writes ..
    From 'The Complete Book of Spirits and Liqueurs' C.Ray, 1978. "These are the 3 monks who, at any one time, are entrusted with the secret of the 130 herbs from which 5 concentrated extracts are derived; and in what proportion they are blended to produce the very strong green Chartreuse, the sweeter and less strong yellow, and the highly concentrated elixir."

    I have come to the conclusion that it is impossible to find an authentic recipe for a herbal liqueur with so many ingredients. A much better approach is to make your own variation. The Chartreuse type blend their herbs so that none predominates. Other liqueurs in this category are:
    'La Senancole', similar to yellow Chartreuse.
    'Aiguebelle', in a strong green and a sweeter yellow version.
    'Izarra', a Spanish green (stronger) and yellow (sweeter) liqueur.
    'Etaller', a German green and yellow liqueur.

    Here are 3 French 'recipes' supposedly for Charteuse but which do not have 130 botanicals, and so are really just a herbal variation:

    1) White Chartreuse (use herbal coloring to get green and yellow) recipe for 10 litres - redistillation required.
    • 50g wormwood
    • 10g aloe vera
    • 50g angelica seeds
    • 12g angelica root
    • 6g arnica flowers
    • 60g either 'chrysanthemum balsamita' or more likely alcost/costmary - 'tanacetum balsamita' (the original has 'de grand camel balsamide' which is either a transcription error or a local/archaic name.)
    • 12g sweet flag (acorus calamus)
    • 30g cinnamon (Chinese)
    • 12g coriander
    • 5g tonka bean juice
    • 10g cloves
    • 50g hyssop tops
    • 12g mace
    • 6g nutmeg
    • 8g poplar buds
    • 50g melissa
    • 100g peppermint
    • 12g thyme
    • 12l alcohol
    • 3l water

    2) Chartreuse - redistillation required
    • 200g angelica root
    • 40g cinnamon
    • 100 g sweetflag root
    • 200g myrrh
    • 100g wormwood
    • 12 l alcohol 86%bv
    • 3l water

    3) Chartreuse (from http://jg.graessel.free.fr/Liqueur/Chartreu.htm)
    • 225mg cloves
    • 15mg star anise
    • 1.025g aniseed
    • 57mg hyssop
    • 225mg saffron
    • 225mg cinnamon
    • 4.025g coriander
    • 1.042g angelica seeds
    • 57mg melissa
    Macerate in one litre of alcohol (90%bv) for 2 weeks. Add sugar syrup made by dissolving 875g sugar in 1litre water.

    Alchermes

    Cooking recipes sometimes ask for the Italian 'Alchermes' liqueur (pronounced alkermes). The liqueur came to Italy from Spain and is probably of Arabic origin. It is bright red from cochineal coloring. The cochineal beetle (cocciniglia) is called 'alquermes' in Spanish, which comes from the Arabic 'quirmiz' which means scarlet. In Italy it was made by monks in Florence as an elixir. Here is a recipe from an Italian site:

    Alchermes:
    • 500 ml alcohol (90%bv)
    • 500 g sugar
    • 1/2 stick vanilla
    • 15 g cinnamon
    • 10 g coriander
    • 2 cloves
    • 5 g anise flowering tops ( grow your own from aniseed in a pot)
    • 10 g cardamon
    • 10 g cochineal (can replace with cochineal coloring)
    • 100 ml rosewater
    • water - quantity not given, 1 litre would give a usual liqueur strength.
    Steep crushed herbs and spices in alcohol diluted with 1 glass of water for 2 weeks. Add sugar syrup. Let stand for another 2 days. Strain, add rosewater.

Camomile

Wal writes ..
    While looking at a Spanish beverage site I noticed a 'Manzanilla Xoriguer' camomile liqueur, manzanilla being the Spanish word for camomile. Flowers are used as botanicals, and since camomile has medicinal properties, I found a French camomile liqueur recipe, and a French and Italian recipe for a camomile flavored wine for those who like to use camomile not only in the form of a herbal tea:

    Camomile Liqueur
    • 50 g dried camomile flowers
    • 1 litre alcohol 90%bv
    • 800 g sugar
    • 1 litre water
    Steep the flowers in alcohol for 2 weeks. Filter and add sugar syrup. Age for 3 months.

    Camomile wine (vin de camomile)
    • 1 litre dry white wine
    • 40 camomile flowers
    • 40 sugar cubes
    • 1 small glass rum
    • 1/2 vanilla pod
    Steep for 12 days. Filter and bottle

    Camomile wine (Italian site)
    • 1 litre sweet white wine
    • 60 g dried camomile flowers
    • 4 tbsp honey
    • 20 g orange leaves
    Warm 1/2 wine and dissolve honey. Steep botanicals for 30 minutes. Remove orange leaves, add rest of wine and steep for 7 days. Filter and bottle. There is no reason why you could not replace the wine with alcohol.

Marijuana

DC writes ..
    For those of you pondering and now thinking about using a little "stash" in your wash, there are a few things that should be understood before you do. First, if Marijuana was to be used unprocessed (i.e. strait from your stash without any alteration other than separation, like you would do if you were going to use it to smoke), the water solubles in the unprocessed plant would dissolves in the brew, leading to a POWERFUL off-taste.

    What should be done is to soak the herb by placing it in a nylon mesh bag. Fill a large container (I was going to use the word "pot," but then I figured I might confuse a few people with the terms) with TEPID water. (the reason for TEPID water is because the dissolution rate of THC -- the active substance in marijuana that gets a person "high" -- occurs in hot water; therefore the oil from the THC glands become thinner and may be released from heavier gland, by which causes a loss of the WANTED oil. This is the reason that TEPID water is used). Soak the herb in the TEPID water for one hour. Then squeeze the water from the vegetation, allowing the water to run back into the container, and allow the vegetation matter to soak for another hour. Repeat this process several times. Most of the pigments and tannin are released in several one-hour soakings.

    It should be known that when soaking the herb in water, even TEPID water, some THC glands may fall off during the soaking and squeezing process. These THC glands can be collected from the bottom of the large container, after the herb has been removed, by draining the water through a coffee filter. You can discard the water after you are satisfied that you have collected all of the glands that you can. The collected glands on the filter can be dried and smoked -- these glands are very purse and potent, so beware. If you don't want to smoke them, you could (should) add then to your brew.

    After the final soaking/rinse, the herb is ready to go into the brew. Well, almost. You must dry the wet vegetation. To dry the herb, take kitchen wire racks -- the kind used for cooling cookies and such -- and place one paper towel over the rack. Then gently spread the herb loosely over the paper towel covered wire rack. The paper towel draws some of the moister away from the plant material, while the wire rack allows for air circulation underneath the herb, hence quicker drying. You should store the herb that is being dried in a warm dark location until dried. Time for drying depends on the environment, so check the herb often and turn the vegetation over as needed to allow for even drying.

    There are other ways to dry the herb as well. You may use a food dehydrator if one is available to you. Check the instructions for proper use of drying herb-like items. You may even, but I am not quick to recommend, use your microwave to aid in the drying process. To use the microwave, loosely place the herb on a paper towel lined microwave safe plate and place in the microwave. Heat the herb on HIGH for 30 SECONDS. Check the herb, if it is still wet, turn the herb and put it in for another 30 SECONDS. Continue the 30 SECOND cycle until the herb is dry and almost crumbly. You do not want to turn the plant black, brown, or have it so dry that it becomes powder after you touch it. Using the microwave to dry herb is a skill, so you may want to try your hand at drying different herbs before you try your hand on this no-so-cheap herb. Now that it is dry, you are ready to go.

    There are many ways that you can incorporate your, now processed, herb into different types of drinks. For a "double buzz" beer, just brew up your favorite batch of beer as you normally would. Then add your processed marijuana, in a nylon mesh bag, to your fermenting beer 3-4 days BEFORE you bottle. This gives the alcohol in the fermenting beer enough time to dissolve the THC. The marijuana will lend a small amount of flavor to the beer, due to the residual water solubles the have remained in the processed herb.

    The same can be done for whiskey. Add the marijuana to your whiskey mash 1 week before to put your mash into the still. The THC oils will be carried over with your flavorful alcohol. I don't recommend this process with a fractioning/reflux still, as that type of still may keep back some of the desired THC that you have worked so hard to get. MY recommendation is to use a pot still only.

    You can also add the processed herb you liquors and other "botanical" brews. An interesting experiment would be to try an Absinthe recipe with and/or without the Wormwood. Now there is an extremely illegal drink waiting to happen.

    Some people have taken their processed herb and added it to strait spirit. But they didn't do this to drink it. They did it so that they can later extract THC oil. The process goes like this: take your processed herb and put it into a jar. Take HIGH proof spirit and pour it over the herb until it just covers the herb. Let this sit covered for a week, remembering to shake the jar 2-3 times a day. After the week is up, pour this solution into a double boiler (preferably on an electric stove/hot plate). Then gently bring the solution up to a gentile simmer. What happens next is the alcohol is slowly being evaporated, while leaving behind the THC oil. Mind you, THC is heat sensitive, so you will lose some of the oil due to the heating process. When you are done, you are left with a THC oil concentration. Most people then use this oil to dip their cigarettes into to enjoy an interesting smoke. Other people take a small amount of the oil and re-dissolve it into a shot worth of vodka and take the solution sublingually to achieve the THC affects without smoking. Other people add it to their cooking. The list could go on.

    Now, this e-mail is not my endorsement for using marijuana, or any other illegal plant or drug, in any form or fashion. This is knowledge being passed on for educational use only. It is not to be put into use in any form or fashion.


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