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Ginger is a powerful herbal ally and something I keep on-hand fresh and in various states of preservation, including ginger tincture, for cooking and healthful reasons. But not everyone can easily tolerate the fiery taste of ginger, even sweetened with honey, in large amounts.
While I, for example, love fresh ginger tea and use it as my go-to remedy for all kinds of ailments, particularly digestive discomfort and respiratory complaints, most of family won’t touch it – even though they know it’s good for them.
But with ginger tincture, you only need a few drops to experience its benefits, so it’s much easier to cajole a reluctant person into taking it. And if you add those few concentrated drops to something tasty like honey or ginger ale, you’ll find they’ll happily comply!
Tinctures are most commonly made with high-proof alcohol, but there are variations that I’ve included here. One uses apple cider vinegar, and the other uses glycerin as the base. I’ll tell you more about the difference between each tincture type a little later.
Ginger tincture and ginger preparations in general have been used for hundreds of years to combat nausea, motion sickness, stomach upsets and other digestive complaints, along with repiratory congestion, inflammation, and headaches, as well as to fight cold and flu and to relieve pain.
It’s such a potent all-round rememdy, you can see why I always keep ginger on hand. My ginger tincture recipe lets you keep this remedy ready to use for up to 5 years (if you use alcohol as the menstruum), so it’s a great addition to your emegency/survival kit, too.
This is another reminder that I’m not a doctor, and I’m not providing medical advice here. And, if you’re taking medication, are pregnant or breastfeeding, it’s important to consult your healthcare provider before using any kind of herbal preparation.
What is a Tincture?
A tincture is, very simply, a concentrated herbal extract. They’re easy to make and, depending on the menstruum and the herb you use, they basically last indefinitely. The menstruum (alcohol, vinegar, or glycerin) draws out the beneficial compounds in the herbs (the fresh ginger root in the case of this ginger tincture) into the menstruum, where they remain in concentrated form, ready to use.
Why Choose a Tincture?
Tinctures are a good choice for a few reasons. As I mentioned above, ginger packs a real punch and not everyone can tolerate the taste when faced with drinking a whole cup of ginger tea. But ginger tincture is concentrated, so you only need a few drops at a time, making it much easier to take. And if it’s a glycerite or hidden in a spoonful of honey, it tastes beautifully sweet, so it’s less onerous to take.
And, of course, tinctures last. Fresh ginger root lasts for a few weeks (or months if you store it properly). You can grate or blend ginger and freeze it, too, in which case it will last for a year – as long as it remains frozen. But what if you’re on the move or have no means of keeping it frozen?
Enter ginger tinture. If you use a high-proof alcohol and store it correctly, it’ll basically last indefinitely, although most guidance puts a limit of 5 years on alochol-based ginger tincture. If you choose apple cider vinegar as your menstruum, the tincture will last at least 3 years, and with a glycerin base, it should last 2 years.
It’s easy to store in an amber glass bottle with a dropper for easy dosing, and it’ll keep in an emergency kit, amidst survival supplies, and can be stored without refrigeration or freezing. If you make ginger tincture, you’ve always got a ginger preparation available for immediate use.
Which Menstruum Should You Use for Ginger Tincture?
Which menstruum (base) you use for your ginger tincture is up to you. Generally, I use high-proof vokda or brandy for adult tinctures, but I’ve also successfully used apple cider vinegar and glycerin. The key difference is the shelf life. As noted above, an alcohol tincture lasts indefinitely (although I’d personally make a new batch every 5 years). A vinegar-based tincture lasts at least 3 years and a glycerite lasts for 2 years.
Obviously, alcohol is not suitable for everyone, even in the tiny therapeutic tincture doses, whether it’s because of age, preference, or taste, or tolerability. I’ve made glycerites for children and fussy adults, as they are sweet and highly palatable. And I’ve made and used tinctures from apple cider vinegar as a shelf-stable alternative to alcohol.
Some people actually prefer to use organic apple cider vinegar with the mother to make tincture, because they then get the benefits of the ACV alongside the herb they’re making a tincture with.
How to Make Ginger Tincture
Making ginger tincture is ridiculously easy, regardless of what menstruum you use. In its most basic form, you simply chop or grate your ginger, put it in a clean, dry jar, pour in enough of your chosen menstruum to cover the ginger. Tighten the jar and give it a good, hard shake. Put it in a dark, dry place that isn’t too hot.
If you’re using an amber glass wide-mouth jar, you don’t need to worry about it being too dark – in this case, a kitchen cupboard will be fine. I tend to use these ones for tincture extraction as they block our plenty of light and are easy to wash and reuse.
It’s also a good idea to label the jar with the date you made the batch, what it is (useful info if you’ve got multiple herbal preparations), and when it’s ready for consumption or straining.
Give the bottle a good shake every day for 2 weeks, then shake it three times a week for the next 2-6 weeks.
The tincture is usable after 2 weeks. However, to make sure as much of the goodness has been removed from the ginger and concentrated in the tincture, I like to leave mine for 6 to 8 weeks before I strain it (although, if we need to, we still use the tincture, before it’s strained, after 2 weeks).
After you’ve left it for a long as you want, strain it through a cheesecloth like this one, which is great value, or a coffee filter (although this can be messy and finicky) into an amber glass bottle (preferably with a dropper cap for easy dosing). Again, label the bottle with all of the appropriate information.
How to Make a Ginger Tincture Without Alcohol or Vinegar (Fast Ginger Glycerite)
I don’t tend to use glycerin often because it’s so heavily processed, even though good quality glycerin is of sustainable plant origin, like this one made from sustainable palm. However, it is good for super fussy folks, children, and those who can’t have or don’t want alcohol or vinegar tinctures. And, when I do make a glycerite, I tend to make it exactly the same way that I make vinegar and alcohol tinctures.
However, there is another “rapid” tincture or glycerite making method that works with some herbs. And it really does only works for some herbs. Because it involves the application of low heat. And, as I’m sure you know, heat destroys the beneficial components of many plants.
This method can work for creating a ginger glycerite because ginger root is tough and borders on “woody”, so it is more robust and can withstand a little warming, but even then, I’m not toally convinced that you get as much goodness from the ginger as you do with the longer method.
Don’t get me wrong – I’ve used this method a few times with more heat resistant herbs, including ginger, but I’d only recommend it for a small batch of ginger glycerite when you need it quickly, to use while you wait for the slower cold extraction tincture to be ready.
Prep your ginger as above and add to canning jars, pour the glycerin into the jars, covering the ginger and filling the jar to just below the band. Seal the lids, then stick the jars into a slowcooker.
Add enough water to reach the jar shoulders. Put the lid on the slowcooker and set it on its lowest setting. Let it run for three days, periodically topping up the water if necessary.
Remove the jars after the three days, let them cool completely, then strain and bottle in the same way as the other tinctures.
Traditional Uses For and Benefits of Ginger
Ginger has been in use for thousands of years as a medicinal and culinary herb, and over 115 beneficial substances have been identified in fresh ginger root, including 31 gingerols. Countless studies have been conducted in recent years, and more are ongoing into the health benefits of ginger and its potential application in modern medicine, and you can find details of them at the National Center for Biotechnology Information.
Ginger is a true powerhouse, and is traditionally used as a remedy for all kinds of ailments – and for good reason, as those studies I mentioned above have shown. I won’t go into every single potential use for ginger, but I’ll list some of the most common reasons I use ginger tincture…
- Nausea (including morning sickness)
- Menstrual pain
- Headaches and migraine
- Digestive distress
- Gas and associated cramping
- Food poisoning
- For the relief of cold and flu symptoms – for a super-charged cold and flu remedy and general immunity booster, see my elderberry syrup recipe that combines the power of ginger and elderberry, and some other potent ingredients.
- To relieve fevers and chills
It has also been shown to be effective in inhibiting rhinovirus (the common cold), Salmonella, and some protozoans like Trichomonas. Additionally, clinical studies have shown ginger to improve glucose tolerance ad insulin resistance in people with type 2 diabetes.
It’s also proved effective as a gastro-protector, helping to prevent stomach ulcers caused by aspirin and ibuprofen as well as those brought on by stress or Helicobacter pylori. You can find more information on these studies here.
Ginger Tincture Recipe
- Fresh ginger root
- Menstruum of your choice - high-proof alcohol such as vodka or brandy, apple cider vinegar, or glycerin
- Wash, dry, and grate the ginger root into a clean jar. I recommend filling the jar between 1/2 and 3/4.
- Pour over your chosen menstruum or base. As noted earlier on, you can use high-proof alcohol like vodka or brandy or, if you want to avoid alcohol, use apple cider vinegar - preferably organic and with the mother. Or, if you need something sweet and easily palatable, use sustainably sourced glycerin. Just remember that the shelf life of vinegar and glycerin is less than that of alcohol.
- Seal the jar and give it a good hard shake.
- Put the jar in a dark, dry place.
- Shake daily for 2 weeks.
- After 2 weeks, you can start to use the tincture. But I recommend not straining it yet. Wait for another 2 to 4 weeks to make sure all the goodness is extracted from the ginger root.
- Shake the jar 2 to 3 times a week for the next 2 to 4 weeks.
- Once you're satisfied that the extraction process is complete, strain the contents of the jar through a cheesecloth or strainer.
- Compost the ginger root
- Store the tincture in amber glass bottles.
- Decant into small amber glass dropper bottles for general use.
- Store larger and small dosing bottles in a moderately cool, dry place.
If you need a faster tincture or you want something quickly to tide you over while your large batch of tincture brews, you can follow the low heat glycerite process I documented above.
If you need to use ginger even faster than that, make a simple ginger tea. Grate a small piece of ginger into a cup, pour over boiling water. If you have it, to make it more beneficial and more palatable, add the juice of 1/4 of a lemon and a spoonful of honey. Let it cool and drink it all - even the grated ginger bits.
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Glycerin Vegetable - 1 Quart (43 oz.) - Non GMO - Sustainable Palm Based - USP - KOSHER - PURE - Pharmaceutical Grade
Bragg Organic Apple Cider Vinegar With the Mother– USDA Certified Organic – Raw, Unfiltered 128 ounce
Cheesecloth, Grade 90, 36 Sq Feet, Reusable, 100% Unbleached Cotton Fabric, Ultra Fine Cheesecloth for Cooking
12, 1 oz Dropper Bottles + Stainless Steel Funnels & 1 Long Glass Dropper - 30ml Amber Glass Bottles
(12 Pack) 16 oz. Amber Boston Round with Black Poly Cone Cap
Ball Amber Glass Wide Mouth Mason Jars (16 oz/Pint) With Airtight lids and Bands [4 Pack] With FREE Jar Opener
Why Use Amber Glass Jars and Bottles to Make Ginger Tincture?
We use high-quality amber, blue, or black glass bottles for tinctures and other herbal preparations because of their light filtering properties. Sunlight can quickly degrade herbal preparations, whether oils, tinctures, or just dried herbs.
So we use amber glass that blocks the damaging light and preserves the contents. Additionally, glass, unlike many other materials, is inert, so doesn’t react with or in any way alter the contents of the bottle or jar.
I generally use Ball amber 1-pint canning jars for the extraction process because they filter 99% of UV light, have a nice, wide mouth, and airtight, replaceable lids and bands. This 4-pack is pretty good value. Remember, a little tincture goes a long way, so there’s no need to make gallons all at once. A couple of pints is plenty for the whole family for a long time.
For storage of larger quantities, I use these Boston Round bottles – the same as I use for my healthful syrups. They are easy to clean, replacement lids are easy to find, and they do a great job of keeping their contents in perfect condition.
For tincture dosing, I use these smaller amber glass bottles with dropper caps. Why bother with separate bottles for storage and general dosing? Because the dropper caps make dosing so easy. Plus, the larger bottles remain sealed, preserving freshness and potency. I only open the larger bottles when I need to decant more tincture into the smaller daily use bottles.
What is ginger tincture good for?
Ginger tincture is traditionally used as a digestive aid, for soothing nausea, cramps, bloating, and diarrhea. It’s also favored for easing respiratory conditions, such as coughs and colds. Ginger is also traditionally used as a general wellness and immune-boosting tonic.
Is the alcohol in ginger tincture harmful?
No, the alcohol in ginger tincture is not harmful, assuming you’re using alcohol that is safe for human consumption, such as 80-proof vodka or brandy. You cannot use substances such as rubbing alcohol, though, as these are dangerous if ingested.
If you do want to avoid alcohol altogether, you can use apple cider vinegar or vegetable glycerin as a base for your ginger tincture.
Does ginger tincture make you poop?
Ginger is often used to help regulate the bowel and can help to make you poop. Ginger can help to regulate the digestive system, and is commonly used to help relieve multiple gastrointestinal issues, including constipation and diarrhea.
Why does ginger help an upset stomach?
Ginger can help an upset stomach because it has powerful anti-inflammatory and pain relieving properties. It is a carminative and antiemetic, so it prevents gas and bloating and reduces nausea. It also stimulates the digestive tract to be more in nutrient absorption and waste excretion.
Ginger and its beneficial metabolites gather in highest concentrations in the digestive tract, so this is where it is most effective pretty quickly after ingestion. Ginger has potent antibacterial compounds, so it’s brilliant for relieving diarrhea caused by bacteria, including food poisoning symptoms.
How does ginger help with bloating?
Ginger helps to eliminate bloating because of its anti-inflammatory properties. Additionaly, it stimulates the digestive enzymes, helping to to make the digestive system more efficient. Plus, ginger is a carminative, meaning that is dispels the gas that causes bloating.