Stock up on everything you’ll need to make it through the winter with Tonic, a new book of recipes from wellness expert Tanita de Rujit. Whatever ails you, there’s a natural cure right around the corner. Make homemade digestive bitters, and quiet the roar in your gut.
This is a tincture of bitter herbs, spices, roots and peels, infused in apple cider vinegar.
Bitter flavors get our digestive juices flowing. They help to soothe gas, burping, bloating and indigestion. They also balance our cravings for sweetness and keep our appetites in check, to prevent us from overindulging.
Sometime around 1824, Johann Siegert, a doctor in Venezuela, began making Angostura bitters as a stimulant for the troops, to help keep them on their feet. Even the ancient Egyptians were said to have infused medicinal herbs in jars of wine. Across Europe, bitters have been a core part of every meal, to prepare the digestive system for particularly heavy, fatty foods.
Note: All quantities depend on the size of your preserving jar. (It’s a good opportunity to use up what might be going to waste in your kitchen — choose from the list below.)
Citrus peels: lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit
Roots: liquorice root, dandelion root, turmeric root, ginger root
Spices: allspice, aniseed (anise), caraway, cardamom, celery seed, chillies, cinnamon, cloves, coriander seeds, fennel, ground ginger, juniper berries, nutmeg, peppercorns, star anise, vanilla pods
Herbs and flowers: chamomile, hibiscus, hops, lavender, lemongrass, mint, rose, rosemary, sage, thyme
Nuts: toasted almonds, pecans, walnuts
Beans: cacao beans, cocoa nibs, coffee beans
- 50 % bitter-flavored ingredients
- 50 % aromatic ingredients
- Apple cider vinegar (enough to fill preserving jar)
- Large glass preserving jar with lid, sterilized
- Bottles for storage, sterilized
- Muslin (cheesecloth)
For the bitters
Chop your chosen ingredients up, or coarsely grind or crack them, to expose more surface area for infusion. Chuck it all into the large, sterilised glass jar.
Top up with apple cider vinegar, then seal, shake, and store at room temperature for 3 weeks.
Strain with a muslin (cheesecloth), then decant back into sterilized bottles and enjoy. It will keep for 3 months.
Keep this tincture on your kitchen counter and splash a drop or two into any drink, to give it an extra dimension and tonic-like quality.