Tincture Handbook: Part 2 - Herbal Plant Parts Terminology and Processing Methods

by Jason J. Duke - Owner/Artisan

Fresh Content: September 8, 2022 23:51

 Basic Flowering Plant Morphology
Basic Plant Morphology

When making extraction tinctures, both fresh herbs or dried herbs or a combination of both fresh and dried are used. When using herbs always select the correct part and process the herb accordingly, using the tradition of empirical hands-on usage and the modern scientific research as guidance.

Herbal Plant Parts Terminology and Processing

  • Tops: flowers and small leaves near ends of stems
  • Aerials: above ground portions stems, leaves, flowers
  • Bark: exterior surface of tree trunks or roots
  • Roots: below ground portions of plants including rhizomes, tubers, and bulbs
  • Seeds: gathered and stored whole and dry when ready for harvest
  • Berries: generally harvested ripe and may be dried
  • Fungi: fruiting bodyThe fruiting body portion of fungi is the blooming above ground or exterior to the bark of a tree part. of edible fungi may be harvested at the appropriate time and dried

Fresh Herb Processing

Fresh herbs are harvested within the last few days before extraction, or weeks when refrigerated. Depending on the plant parts the herbs are are bruised, cut, smashed, crushed, mashed, or sliced before extraction:

Fresh flowers, leaves, and stem parts are bruised by being placed in a tightly tied cheesecloth and rolled under palm pressure on a dedicated wooden cutting board. Afterwards, they also may be be cut into 1cm size pieces to assist extraction.

Fresh berries are processed separately with a lighter touch so as not to release their liquid. Contain any juices released so that it may be added during extraction.

Fresh roots, bark, seeds, and fungi are either smashed by hand equipment or mashed with a mortar and pestle or thinly sliced with a sharp knife very carefully.

Dried Herb Processing

Dried herbs are easily purchased in bulk from many suppliers in whole form, cut-and-sifted, sliced, and powdered.

Whole dried is when the size of the herb and their parts are less than 1cm so they may extracted without further processing.

Cut-and-sifted is when any herbs and their parts are cut with blades in cutting machines to form whole small pieces, any powder or dust is sifted away from the cut pieces with a mesh screen.

Slicing is used for large and/or long leaves, roots, and fruiting body of fungi that are thinly sliced diagonally for maximum surface area during extraction.

Powdering may be done to any herbs by slow cutting/grinding to prevent heat degradation, but will still incur some degree of degradation and loss of potency in the fragile and volatile constituents. Herbs with tough cells walls, such as chitin, can be powdered to release more viable constituents. Herbal powders are for making tablets, capsules, and for a quick extraction tincture of lower quality that is needed within a few hours.

Cut-and-sifted is the Best Quality for Making Tinctures

Cut-and-sifted quality is generally best for extraction tinctures since the volatile constituents will be better preserved from evaporation and oxidation while in cut-and-sifted form so that an extraction will yield a potent and viable tincture.

Any powdering of an herbs will quickly release these volatile constituents which are quickly evaporated and oxidized when they come into contact with air, so powdered herbs are best not used for making high-quality tinctures; use cut-and-sifted quality herbs instead of powdering herbs before extraction.

Tincture Handbook

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