Most evenings you’ll find me either drinking a big mug of hot herbal tea (current fave: a blend of Tulsi, fresh ginger, plantain leaf, and wild peppermint), or sipping a mason jar of fizzy water spiked with either a dose of motherwort or blue vervain tincture or a squirt of homemade herbal digestive bitters.
I have a few favorite digestive bitters formulas (my go-to being dandelion + yellow dock + burdock + cardamom + date), but also love experimenting with new combinations of aromatic, bitter, and sweet elements. We ended up with a windfall of meyer lemons this month, and I decided to adapt an old recipe of mine to include some new elements. Today’s experiment involved yarrow, burdock, dandelion, lavender, chamomile, lemon, and honey. And I think it’s downright delightful.
Digestive bitters ease digestive woes while boosting our nutritional absorption from the foods we eat. I love including all manner of healthful, local herbs in my recipes, and encourage you to adapt this formula to whatever you have on hand.
Want to make your own? My recipe is below! Do let me know how you like it after yours is ready.
Note: if you’re using the photo for your recipe (versus the typed up version below it), you may end up bumping up to a larger mason jar after your bitters steep for a few days if you find that your roots were thirsty, or if you don’t have enough room to expand and properly steep.
Lemon, Lavender, & Yarrow Digestive Bitters
Makes approximately 1/2 pint of bitters
- 1 1/2 small Meyer lemons (or 1 regular lemon), washed and thinly sliced with the peels on
- 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp dried, sliced dandelion root (or 1 scant cup fresh)
- 3 tbsp dried, sliced burdock root (or 3/4 cup fresh)
- 1 1/2 tsp dried lavender flowers
- 1 tsp dried yarrow flowers and leaves
- 1 tsp dried chamomile flowers
- 1 1/2 tsp raw honey
- 1 1/2 cups brandy (=/-) – enough to cover herbs by 1 to 2″
- Combine all fruit, roots, and herbs in a pint-and-a-half-sized mason jar.
- Add raw honey, then top with enough brandy to generously cover the herbs and fruit by at least 1 to 2 inches.
- Cover with a non-reactive lid (or a lid lined with plastic, waxed paper, or parchment).
- Set in an out-of-the-way corner of your kitchen for 4-6 weeks, shaking daily or as often as you think of it. I strongly encourage you to taste your bitters throughout the process, so that you can participate in the magic and sense the subtle flavor shifts that happen over time.
- Strain your bitters through a mesh colander, squeezing firmly to extract as much liquid as you can from your herbs. Compost solids.
- Transfer bitters to a clean, dry glass bottle or jar (a dropper bottle is especially nice for daily use), then clearly label with name, ingredients, and date. To use, add to fizzy or non-fizzy water or (if you’re so inclined) to cocktails. If using to boost digestion (and why not?!), enjoy daily about 30 minutes before meals. Perfect to sip on while you finish making dinner!
Do you make your own digestive bitters? What’s your favorite recipe?