By Michael Tierra
Tinctures are one way to take herbs but herbal wines are still another. They have the advantage of lower alcohol content and are cheaper because you don't have to buy alcohol to make and preserve the extract, you can just allow the berry or herbs to make their own alcohol.
Blackberry wine is a delicious beverage with a lot of healing benefits for the blood and lower bowel. It was actually was the preferred alcoholic drink during mid 19th century North America since grapes where not as yet established in the Midwest and Western part of the country.
Blackberry wine like blackberry leaves and blackberry root is a treatment for general sickness and especially bowel diseases including diarrhea and IBS. A shot glass two or three times a day is a good dose but it is so delicious that it is hard to limit oneself to only that amount. In many parts of the country, the Blackberries are only just coming to fruition. Here's a fine old-time recipe for making Blackberry wine.
1 gallon of blackberries
Add 1 quart of boiling water.
Let it stand for 24 hours, stirring occasionally
Press strain through a strainer or cheesecloth
To every gallon of liquid dissolve 2 lbs of sugar
Warm slightly no higher than 103 degrees Fahrenheit
Float a teaspoon of wine or baker's yeast.
Cover with a clean cloth to keep dirt out of it
Let it stand in a warm place (the attic is a good place) until the fermenting activity has nearly finished -- this can take a couple of weeks. One way to tell is to put a small pinhole in a balloon and fasten it over the lip of a bottle. It will inflate with the escaping gas. When the balloon naturally deflates, the fermentation is mostly complete, and it should be tightly corked and bottled for future use.
Strain again through a finer cotton or linen cloth
Bottle a cork tightly letting it stand for at least a year.
The original recipe indicated to cork it tight without adding the yeast and after the sugar has been added and simply let it stand for a year.
The same recipe can be followed substituting any berries or fruit. You can make wine with any herb by making a strong decoction from any root, bark or leaves. Follow the same procedure but dissolve 3 lbs of sugar into the liquor instead.
To make old fashioned root beer, make a strong decoction of sassafras, sarsaparilla, burdock root and perhaps a little licorice or anise seed. Follow the above procedure but only use 1 lb of sugar per gallon of tea and do add yeast and keep warm overnight to allow the fermentation to begin. Before it is completely done, this should be consumed within a day.