So it’s been a while since I posted anything new and today was that day !!! lol
This one is long but worth it especially since its the season of plenty.There is absolutely nothing like your own fresh tonics!
Tonics are classified in several ways but for this I sorted them into two basic forms; refreshment and medicinal.
In the U.S.A. we have our own original tonic Root Beer. The origins of this drink come from the revolutionary times of America. Root Beer can contain many different ingredients with only one common thread, Sassafras root.In the beginning this drink was a “kitchen sink cure”
Root Beer was used for everything from the common cold to a general spring tonic .Ingredients such as wintergreen, dandelion root, juniper berries,honey and burdock root all went into this tonic.
How its done……..
Water volume is however much tonic you wish to make. The ratio of herbs to water is simple.
For every cup of water, you want ¼ ounce of herbs. You can use more herbs, but keep in mind that some herbs should not be used in too high of a concentration for safety reasons.
So please be sure to consult a good reference on herbs and their usage if you are a beginner. Most standard tea bags use the ratio of one-cup water for 2.5 grams of tea. A good conversion
to remember: 1 ounce is equal to 28 grams, ¼ ounce is equal to 7 grams, three tea bags are
7.5 grams. I use almost three times the amount of a tea bag in making a tonic.
From this you can see that tonics are not meant for prolonged consumption. You can use the lesser amount if you want to make a bottled beverage to consume multiple times per day.
Tonics are best consumed once or twice a day. Most tonics are only consumed one to three times a week.The purpose of a tonic is for health maintenance not in treating an illness.
For treatment it is recommended that you use the weaker tea versions. For every cup of water and quarter ounce of herbs I use one to two teaspoons of sweetener.
You can use more or less as your tastes dictate. If you are using an artificial sweetener, take one cup of water and add the sweetener to it in small doses till the desired effect is reached. All sweeteners should be added as the last step in brewing, right before you bottle. If you prefer, no sweetener need be used.
When brewing your tonic, do not bring the water to a boil unless a particular herb requires it. If that is the case, boil the water and that particular herb, remove the water from the heat source and cool to about 190 degrees before adding the other herbs. Boiling the herbs that do not require it will remove some of the essential oils and potency of the herb. Steep the herbs in the water until the liquid reaches room temperature. When the brew is cooled, but before completely cold, add your sweetener and stir until dissolved.
Now you are ready to bottle up your tonic. If you are planning on using your all the tonic
you made with in two weeks, then simple refrigeration will do for preserving your brew.
However if you want to use it over a longer duration without brewing up a fresh batch, then
some type of preserving method must be used. One of the best is a simple canning method.
Here is the modification that must be used.
First brew the tonic as normal, at the end when the tonic is cooling, add your sugar and
with that add one teaspoon of lemon juice for every cup of liquid. This will adjust the
acid (ph must be between 3.0 and 3.8) in the liquid for long-term preservation. Next you
must use canning jars with lids. Put the liquid in the jars as soon as you add the lemon
juice and sugar. Put on lids and tighten bands to snug, do not crank on the bands, as they
will not remove later. Now you need a boiling pot deep enough to cover the filled jars by
about ½ inch with water. Bring the water in deep pot to a boil, add jars and bring back to
a boil. When the water is boiling with the jars, cover pot and leave the jars in water bath
for 60 to 90 minutes. The temp of the tonic must come back up to 190 degrees. This takes
about one to one and a half hours to attain. Remove jars and let cool down. The lids must
suck down tight to the jar and the center of the lid should not “pop” when you press down on
it. If it does pop, put it back in boiling water bath again. This is the same method used
when canning any food, if you are not familiar with the canning method, go to the library
and get a book on home canning. This will explain how to can and preserve food at home.
Follow the directions!!
To make your tonics “fizzy” you have two choices. The first is to make a tonic concentrate.
To do this, simply add two to three times the amount of herbs to your water amount
(one half to three fourths an ounce of tea for every cup of water) and sweeten to taste.
This concentrate should not be consumed as is rather it needs to be diluted before
consumption. When you have the concentrate, use 1/3-cup concentrate to 8 to 10 ounces of
carbonated water. This makes an excellent fizzy tonic. You can try it with the normal tonic
concentrate (1/4 ounce herbs to every cup water) for a sparkling tea drink to use several
times a day, however if you make the high concentrate, consumption should be limited to two
to three times per week. In this fashion you have just reinvented the old fashion
“soda fountain” drink. You can make soda pop at home doing this; so do not limit yourself
to just drinks for health!
The second method for making sparkling tonics is to make the tonic in normal tonic strength
with real sugar, honey or fructose. For every quart of tonic you will need 1/8 teaspoon of
wine or bread yeast. Add the yeast to the tonic when it is under 100o F. Let it sit in the
jar for 8 to 12 hours or until you notice fermenting activity. Now you need to either bottle
it in 12 ounce long neck beer bottles and seal with crimp caps or use the canning jar with
lid and screw band. Seal the jar/bottles and put into the refrigerator. Plan on using the
tonic within 10 days and always keep it in cold storage until ready to drink. Be careful
with this method, as the yeast will keep growing slowly and create a bottle bomb if it sits
to long. Try not to use more than ½ cup sugar per quart of tonic as this can cause an over
amount of foaming to occur in the bottle.
The other form of tonic is the Shrub.
For this very healthy drink, the vinegar takes the
place of carbonation to add a mild bite to the drink. Shrubs where traditionally used by
18th and 19th century Americans as a thirst quenching drink.The idea was to soak
Berries in a crock with apple cider vinegar over night. After that it was strained and
.As mentioned above, the Shrub’s primary ingredient is vinegar. In this case, apple cider
vinegar is the only type of vinegar to use. Apple cider vinegar has outstanding health
benefits and should be used daily regardless. The vinegar is used in a ratio of one-cup
vinegar to 12 to 16 ounces of fruit or 3 – 4 ounces of herbs.
To start a Shrub, pick the type of berry fruit you wish to use, fresh or frozen and a
non-reactive pot or bowl. In my case I use a stoneware crock with a lid. Add the fruit or
herbs to the container and pour in the vinegar. You will want to steep this mixture at
room or refrigerator temperature for 24 to 36 hours. After steeping the mixture, strain
through muslin or cheesecloth and gently squeeze the excess liquid out of the cloth. To
this add about one cup sugar or to taste. It will take a bit more sweetener than a tonic.
You may keep this mixture in the fridge for up to 4 weeks. To make the Shrub, take 1 to 2
ounces of this concentrate and add it to 10 ounces of ice-cold water. Even though it uses
vinegar as a base, the taste is really good and barely hints at vinegar. Shrubs can be used
as tonics, but the primary use is for thirst quenching.
Please note that in all the below tonics follow the brewing instructions from above and you can add honey or raw sugar to taste
Feel good tonic
One part meadow sweet
One part peppermint
One part hibiscus
One part chamomile
One part rose hips
Energizer Tea Tonic
One part ginger
One part lavender
One part lemon zest
One part green tea
One part Clover
Warm Fire Tonic
One part orange zest
One part cardamom
One part vanilla bean
Follow directions above for making Shrubs you can also add honey or raw sugar to taste
Raspberries/Strawberries/Blackberries Use whats in season