Originally By Tony Ackland
Using HerbsWal 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:
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:
BittersAmaro 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:
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' :
from 'Sicilian Home Cooking' by W & G Tornabee:
Bay Leaf Liqueur
Wild FennelWal writes ..
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.
VermouthVemouth 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 -
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.
From an Italian site (liquori fatti in casa) a recipe for vermouth (which is quite unusual to find).
"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.
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.
'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
Spanish Herb Liqueur
Italian Herb Liqueur (Liquore di erbe)
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)
Persicot is now extinct. Here is a recipe for 2 litres (36%abv) of the clear liqueur.
Krambambuli is another exinct liqueur. Here is a recipe for 2 litres (40%abv).
BenedictineThe 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.
ChartreuseChartreuse 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."
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
Green 'Chartreuse' 2
Yellow 'Chartreuse' 1
Yellow 'Chartreuse' 2
Here is another which relies just on steeping:
Dirk writes ..
First the chartreuse-essence:
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.
2) Chartreuse - redistillation required
3) Chartreuse (from http://jg.graessel.free.fr/Liqueur/Chartreu.htm)
AlchermesCooking 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:
CamomileWal writes ..
Camomile wine (vin de camomile)
Camomile wine (Italian site)
MarijuanaDC writes ..
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.