Tuesday, July 20, 2010

ABC Wednesday Challenge -- A

It's ABC Wednesday again.

Let me take a minute to explain ABC Wednesday. The concept was started 3 years ago, by Denise Nesbitt, as a way to share photos and connect with her international friends. It has taken on a life of its' own, growing steadily for the last three years. It is now so much more than a photo meme. Everyone is invited to join with a post that includes a photo, a poem, artwork, a story, or just a snippet of their life, just so long as it relates to the letter of the week.

Last week, we finished round six, ending the third year, and this week, we start round seven, moving forward into the fourth year. I was flattered last round, when Denise invited me to be a member of the ABC Wednesday Team. I got to join forces with Denise, Barb, Jay, Gattina, Sylvia, and Roger, as we worked each week, to help keep the blog and the linky tools all running smoothly.

This round we will also be joined by: Annelie, Linda, Nathalie, Joyca, Donna, Helen
Together we all hope to make this a fun round. Please join us each Wednesday as we work our way through the alphabet.

Lets start with:

I decided to give myself an even bigger challenge. Every Tuesday I highlight one of my ties, in Tuesday Trivia Tie-in. This has been going on since January of 2010. I am going to try to make my ABC Wednesday post, relate to my Tuesday Trivia Tie-in post. We'll see how I do as it moves along.

This is the part where I make a shameless plug for myself and invite everyone to join me each Tuesday, with a post about something you enjoy, collect or like to write about. Simply add a bit of little known information to your post and join in my linky party. It is a fun way to learn new and interesting information, and to show off the information that you already knew!

So, having said that, my Tuesday Trivia Tie-in post this week featured my Martini Glass Tie. You can read all about it here.

So, it is only fitting that this post, for the letter A be about ALCOHOL.
(No pictures this week, just a lot of words.)

ALCOHOL is a word that refers to any number of organic chemical compounds where a hydroxyl group is bound to a carbon ATOM.

I didn't pay attention in science class, so I have very little understanding of what that means, but it sounds very technical, and makes one feel wise to be able to say it, so everyone should learn that phrase for use at cocktail parties and other social events.

There are many types of ALCOHOL, but the most common is ethanol. This is the type found in ALCOHOL beverages, and generally when you hear someone mention ALCOHOL, they are referring to ethanol.

There are other uses for ethanol, cleaning supplies, medical uses, fuels, etc. In order to keep people from drinking it, so as to make sure and wring every tax dollar possible from ALCOHOL destined for a glass, the US Government requires that poisons be added to any other forms of ethanol before they are sold.

So, when you buy a bottle of rubbing alcohol, you are buying ethanol, just like in a glass of vodka, plus two poisons, acetone, (The primary ingredient in nail polish remover) and methyl isobutyl ketone, a chemical used in mining and photograph developing.

Nice of them to be looking out for us like that, isn't it.

Since the other focus of my blog, besides my ties, is our herb garden, I wanted to explore for a moment the use of alcohol to create herbal tinctures.

A tincture is an extraction of the essence of the herb, generally using alcohol. There are other methods of making tinctures, including the use of vinegar, glycerol, or ether.

Using methods available to most average people, alcohol is by far the most effective method of removing the essential oils from the herb, as it removes much more, and will have a much stronger concentration than the other two. In addition, it has a pH level that is almost neutral, so it affects the pH of the herbal essence far less than an acid such as vinegar would.

So, when extracting herbal essence, to use as a flavoring, alcohol is definitely the way to go.

But there are some questions about how effective it is when extracting the essence for medicinal or health purposes.

One of the reasons alcohol is so valuable in medicine is that it kills or destroys so many harmful microbes and enzymes. One of the reason herbs are so valuable medicinally is because they contain beneficial enzymes. There are those who claim that the alcohol used to extract the essential oils of an herb actually kills the beneficial enzymes, rendering a product that smells and tastes like an herb, but has none of the medicinal value.

Glycerol,when used properly, will extract almost as much of the essential oil, but will not harm the enzymes, however, because it has no preservative, or antiseptic properties, glycerol tinctures must be kept refrigerated, and used quickly once opened, as they can spoil rapidly.

Of course it goes without saying that the best way to enjoy herbs is using fresh herbs, but that isn't always possible or even practical for all herbs in all cases, at all times of the year.

So, having said that, I recommend that an herbal tincture, to be used for flavoring and cooking, be made using alcohol. Your alcohol should be at least 100 proof. This means it is 50% alcohol and 50% water. The most widely used and widely recommended alcohol for this purpose is 100 proof vodka.

Here is the process for making an herbal tincture:

The ratio of plant material to medium is generally 1:5 for dried herbs (1 part herb for every 5 parts alcohol) and 1:2 for fresh herbs (1 part herb for every 2 parts alcohol).

Chop the fresh or dried herb and place it in a sterilized mason jar. The more finely chopped the herb becomes the more easily the plant material will be extracted. Coffee grinders are ideal for grinding dried herbs into powder. Food processors are good for chopping or grinding fresh herbs.

Determine the amount of alcohol to add by determining the weight of the plant material. One ounce of dried plant material would require 5 ounces of alcohol. One ounce of fresh plant material would require 2 ounces of alcohol. Pour the alcohol into the jar covering the herb.

Cover with a sterilized lid and place it in a cool dark place. Label the jar with the date and the herb. Shake the herbal tincture each day for two weeks.

After two weeks, strain the plant material from the herbal tincture using cheesecloth. For best long term results store in a dark colored glass bottle, in a cool, dark, dry place.

Please take some time to check out what others were INSPIRED to blog about this week, at

ABC Wednesday,

and feel free to add your own blog to the list as we work our way through the alphabet.

Be sure and join me each Tuesday for Tuesday Trivia Tie-in, where readers are invited to share trivia and show off their treasures.
Read all about it here


  1. Lots of info about Alcohol and I like that you have challenged yourself to tie it in with your Tue trivia and ties! Is that enough T words? Here we are on A only!

  2. Great one as always, Troy! Love the tie!! Hope your week and Round 7 are off to a great start in you neck of the woods!


  3. That's a unique looking tie. :)

    My ABC Wednesday is up HERE. Happy Wednesday!

  4. Well, I drink to a great beginning for ABC Wed. Round 7. Very nice.

  5. I've recently came across this blog and today my post will be on Aluminum Ware and I have information about Aluminum's beginnings.
    I hope my post qualifies for your ABC Wednesday Challenge.
    ~~HUGS from Michigan~~

  6. Terrific tie! And excellent information about alcohol in its many forms!

  7. Thanks for the information Troy, glad to be on board.

    I might try and join your Tuesday Tie-in.

    Love the tie BTW


  8. This will be an interesting challenge that I'm looking forward to seeing each week.
    Thanks for joining the team.

  9. I've been wanting to make alcholic drinks myself (like limoncello and rhubarcello). So, I guess I need wodka for those.

  10. Love the tie Troy!
    Fascinating post as ever these herb concotions sound intriguing! I make a very nice vodka/raspberry liquer! Hmmmmmmmm! Maybes I should get some on the go for Christmas!

  11. It's problematic that I'm now totally soused at work just READING about alcohol.

    BTW, AWESOME logo you put together! Denise was right, this one is better BECAUSE it's more enhanced.

    ROG, ABC Wednesday teammate

  12. Great way to begin the round! Love the logo too. You really delved deep into the nuances of alcohol and it's related uses. I've never made a tincture before. Maybe I'll give it a try.