My digestive system has always been wonky. I can remember even as a teenager that “going to the bathroom” was a big deal. Maybe I was simply missing bitters in my diet? So I made my own bitters and you can too. Are you ready to end tummy woes and make your own bitters?
I thought so.
Let’s get started.
Maybe You Are a lot Like Me?
Successes and failure rose on whether I could be the queen of the toilet.
Words like constipation, colon spasms, gas, and heartburn were commonly used in my vocabulary. If I ate dairy, I felt sorry for anyone around me.
Can you relate?
My Own Gut Health
I have written about my gut health previous HERE and tried to correct it twice. Once the doctor made be go on a the “no” diet: no sugar, beans, grains, dairy, nuts, and soy diet for 30 days.
Both diets were helpful but I didn’t find any long term changes. I eat a much better diet than as a young adult and try and stay close to the “no diet” as much as I can.
As I mentioned in my detailed article about why we all need some bitters in our lives, as Herbalist Rosalee de la Forêt explains that the bitter taste stimulates the secretion of saliva and hydrochloric acid, which helps break down the foods we consume.
Lack of hydrochloric acid causes:
- heartburn (check)
- stomach ulcers
- food intolerance (double check)
- nutrient deficiencies.
Constipation relief is one of the benefits of consuming bitters. Herbalist Carol Little summed up the need for bitters quite succinctly. She writes:
“Bile is our built in resident laxative. When our “plumbing is humming’, many of our body’s systems work better. All is connected!”
Making Your Own Bitters Recipe:
After reading about the benefits of bitters, I decided to make my own bitters using Mountain Rose’s recipe. There are several recipe on the internet but I wanted to use what I grow for my herb business, Anna Lee Herbs, or can wild harvest.
I must warn you before trying this recipe. You must like the smell of licorice. I use fennel seed in this recipe.
Fennel seed is my number #1 favorite herb for helping with colon spasms. I incorporated it in my Tummy Tamer tea recipe blend for that very reason. However, the fennel seed flavor in my tea recipe is much more subtle.
I think the alcohol in the bitter recipe just brings out the licorice taste.
So, are you ready to make your own bitters?
Here is the recipe:
(You can buy all the above dried ingredients at Mountain Rose Herbs or Amazon. I gave you the links above.)
My friend gave me bitter oranges which grow in my area so I used this instead of the orange peel.
Fresh vs Dry Ingredients:
I opted for all fresh ingredients except the fennel seed. They should be dried seeds. I personally believe fresh is better but not everyone has access to fresh.
If you make this recipe, either use all fresh or all dried unless you know how to mix the two. I am too new to making herbal products to tell you how to mix them. (Anyone?) Remember in any case, use dried fennel seeds since that’s what you want to use.
I am curious what effect unripe fennel seeds would have on this recipe. Please weigh in. I find green unripe fennel seeds to be so delicious. I used them to make fennel hydrosol and was blown away how delicious the seeds are.
A Girl got to taste–you know.
So if you want to go fresh…
If you have access to dandelion roots (um, your yard…), dig them up. They are so easy to cut up when they are fresh unlike some other root. (Yeah, I am talking to you, echinacea. What a b*tch to chop.)
Then you can make your own orange peel by simply peeling an orange. Then take a carrot peeler to remove the orange part and leave the white part known as the pith.
Of course, you can simply buy a ginger root. Peel it and cut it up. That is exactly what I did.
Fennel seeds are sold in the spice aisle of your grocery store. But price wise, you might be better off ordering it from Mountain Rose or Amazon if you plan to make a spaghetti size jar of bitters. Pictured above is a 1/2 cup of fennel seed.
Plus, if you have any leftover, use the fennel seeds as tea or cook with them.
Make Your Own Bitter Recipe:
1. If using fresh, fill the mason jar 1/2 full. If using dried ingredients, fill it only 1/3rd full to allow for expansion.
2. Pour 100 percent proof vodka over the herbs and fill to the top of the jar. I used 80 proof Prairie Vodka, which is organic and gluten free. I can’t find organic gluten free vodka in 100 percent proof. You can buy organic grain alcohol which is 190 proof HERE and dilute it 50% with distilled water.
3. If you don’t want to use alcohol, combine 3 parts organic glycerine to 1 part distilled water. Shake to combine and then add to your herbs. It has a shelf live of 14-24 months. Alternatively, you can use room temperature apple cider vinegar, which has a shelf life of about one year.
Be sure to put a piece of wax paper between the lid and the tincture when using apple cider vinegar. The vinegar will pit the lid. I do the same thing when using vodka.
4. Store tincture in a dark cool place for 6 to 8 weeks. Some herbalist suggest to shake it every days, while others say just shake it often.
5. Do check to make sure your alcohol hasn’t evaporated. You don’t want your herbs floating on the top and possibly mold.
6. Strain the herbs using a cheesecloth. Once all the liquid is remove, squeeze the herbs to remove as much liquid as you can.
I use a french press since it is easier to strain and extract the herbs. (See the picture at the beginning of the post.)
7. Place the content in an amber dropper bottle and label it. Keep it in a dry cool place.
8. Use it before meals.
How Much Should I Take?
Herbalist Rosalee de la Forêts says you can take it before or after meal.
I am not a doctor so I can’t tell you how much to take before each meal. Rosalee de la Forêt suggests:
“Dosage is highly variable here. The most important thing is to taste the bitters. 15-30 drops or a half to one full teaspoon should do it.”
You can easily add it to sparkling water.
***If you are on medication, nursing or pregnant, or have any health issue, please contact a medical doctor before taking any type of herbs.*** I can’t stress this warning enough.
What Does it Taste Like?
I am going to be honest. I don’t love tinctures. They taste like strong cough medicine without the cherry flavoring. This one tastes like a licorice taste but I mostly taste the alcohol.
But I take it like a big girl since I know bitters are good for me.
The benefits of bitters aren’t going to happen right away. Try and take them before each meal and see how you feel.
Join the Conversation:
Do you make your own bitters or simply add bitters to your diet?
For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
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