Home made Valerian Tincture

monk in garden animI’m including this recipe as a protest about the actions of Codex Alimentarius, international ‘guidelines’ which seems to be moving herbal tinctures and other traditional remedies to the domain of prescription drugs. If you haven’t heard about this, there is an article I have written here [opens in a new page], ‘Codex Alimentarius‘.

valerian leaves in spring

valerian leaves in spring

Tinctures are easy to make and very effective so I suggest you start making your own, at least until the authorities make that illegal. Firstly, don’t get confused between Red Shank Valerian, a common seaside plant and Fragrant Valerian, which has the medicinal qualities.

On the left is an image of the Fragrant Valerian leaves in early April, just coming up and full of spring energy. Traditionally, though Valerian is harvested in August after the flowers have died down. I have also

Fragrant Valerian flower

Fragrant Valerian flower

put in a picture of the flowers in summer to avoid confusion.

Valerian is one of my ‘star plants’ on this site and there is more about its qualities available on this link [opens in a new page]: ‘Fragrant Valerian‘. Traditionally in herbal medicine, plants are harvested at times when the planets are in complementary aspect. Valerian is ruled by Mercury – which was retrograde when I lifted the roots, so not a great start!

Valerian harvested

Valerian harvested

I harvested enough root for two small jars of tincture, shook the soil off and brought it inside. The soil was quite dry which limited the amount of mud sticking to the roots. I used old mustard jars, cleaned sterilised and dried in the sun. I am using vodka as a solvent here, but have used rum also. I suspect brandy would work well with the musky odour of the root, but whatever you use – its not a great taste!

Separate out the roots from the stems and leaves, which can go in the compost bin. Give them a wash in the sink and shake out the roots to lose most of the water. Then chop the roots up and give them a bit of a bruising with a rolling pin.

Valerian roots cleaned

Valerian roots cleaned

valerian roots chopped and bruised

valerian roots chopped and bruised

valerian tincture stored in recycled jars

valerian tincture stored in recycled jars

Put the roots into the jars, just short of the top, then top off with the alcohol. I didn’t have quite enough vodka so added a bit of water also. Seal the jars and leave them somewhere, out of sunlight, so that you can give them an occasional shake every day for about two weeks. You can then macerate the mix or rack off the liquid into a tincture jar.

WildFood Wizard by Simon Mitchell

WildFood Wizard by Simon Mitchell

If this interests you – I have written and illustrated a book on the subject called ‘WildFood Wizard’ – you can find out more about it here: WildFood Wizard by Simon Mitchell.

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