Which is Preferable Dried or Fresh Herbs for Tinctures?

Which is Preferable Dried or Fresh Herbs for Tinctures?

When it comes to making tinctures, both dried and fresh herbs have their own advantages and considerations. Here are some points to consider when deciding whether to use dried or fresh herbs for tincture production:

  1. Stability and Shelf Life: Dried herbs tend to make more stable extracts because the drying process removes excess moisture and deactivates enzymes in the plant. Moisture and enzymes can affect the shelf life of the raw herbs. Therefore, if you are concerned about the longevity of your tincture, using dried herbs may be preferable.
  2. Alcohol Strength: Controlling the alcohol strength in the final tincture is easier when using dried herbs. Tinctures made from fresh herbs are generally weaker in terms of dissolved phytochemicals. This is because the water content in fresh herbs affects the dissolving capacity of alcohol during the extraction process. Alcohol has better chances of penetrating cell walls and extracting phytochemicals efficiently when dried herbs are used.
  3. Herb to Solvent Ratio: Preparing fluid extracts with a 1:1 herb to solvent ratio can be challenging with fresh herbs that have high water content. Higher amounts of alcohol are required to compensate for the moisture, making it difficult to adhere to the desired ratio. However, for tinctures with lower herb to solvent ratios, it is still possible to compensate for the inherent moisture with extra alcohol.
  4. Infused Oils: Dried herbs are generally better for making infused oils. The presence of moisture in fresh herbs can make the infusion process inefficient and affect the shelf life of the finished product. Even small traces of moisture in infused oils can negatively impact product stability.
  5. Storage and Flexibility: Dried herbs can be stored for longer periods with minimum impact on shelf life. This provides flexibility in transportation, storage, and production throughout the year. Fresh herbs, on the other hand, may be more readily available and suitable for immediate use.

It’s important to note that the drying process can have some downsides, especially for herbs containing essential oils and thermolabile phytochemicals. Essential oil levels may be reduced during drying, and thermolabile chemicals can degrade due to the heat applied in the drying process. In such cases, sun-drying fresh herbs before using them for tincture production can be a good solution.

Fresh herb tinctures are suitable in situations where the herb grows year-round, requires relatively low alcohol strength (around 25% alcohol) for extraction, has a low herb to solvent ratio in the final product, and has relatively low inherent moisture content.

Ultimately, the choice between using dried or fresh herbs for tinctures depends on the specific herb, its characteristics, and the desired qualities of the final tincture. It’s always beneficial to research and understand the properties of the herb you’re working with to make an informed decision.

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