Dandelion bitter stimulates the digestive system, helps to lower your level of blood sugar and has a positive effect on stress. From mild digestions to heartburn, bitters increase digestibility and help you calm an upset stomach.
In the past, bitter food has been part of every meal when people harvested bitter greens from the wild. But modern farming started to cultivate sweet vegetable that was more appealing and as a consequence, we don’t have enough bitter food in our diet.
As some people go through challenging diets I use bitters to activate my digestive system and start to produce more gastric juices that help activate the digestive enzymes.
If there isn’t a bottle of Starwest Botanical Detox extract I make my own.
Digestive bitters are potent herbal infusions (tinctures) of bitter herbs and other aromatic or flavouring herbs in an alcohol base that stimulate the digestive process, promote better absorption of nutrients and stimulate natural detoxification.
To make a bitter we use a combination of bitter herbs and aromatic or flavouring agents that we further infuse in a cold dark place for a minimum of 6 weeks in 100 proof alcohol.
Bitters are traditionally made with alcohol as it allows for the best extraction of herbs, preserve the bitters and has a neutral taste that helps the bitter taste to stand out. For this recipe to be successful, it must have a bitter flavour. You can try to replace the alcohol with vinegar or glycerin and taste it, if you still feel that the bitter taste resonates, it might still be effective.
Ingredients to make bitters at home
Bitter herbs promote the digestive process through stimulating the release of gastric juices, digestive enzymes and bile. Moreover they also slow don’t the stomach emptying and create a sense of fullness so you stop eating.
Common bittering herbs include dandelion root, artichoke, motherwort, burdock, gentian root, wormwood, mugwort or chicory root
We will use in our recipe Dandelion and Chicory root
Dandelion root is a typical bitter herb that contains inulin, the prebiotic starch that plays an important role in gut health. It’s an energy source for beneficial gut microbes insulin contributes to proper digestion, improving bowel function and reduction of lipids such as cholesterol in blood. Its effects are mainly beneficial for people who have diabetes as dandelion stimulates the production of insulin from the pancreas and keeps blood sugar levels low.
When to forage dandelion root
You can collect dandelion root in the late fall - when the level of probiotic starch inulin is higher and the level of fructose is lower. Winter freeze converts the inulin into fructose
Alternatively, in early spring before the plant starts to blossom - spring roots are less bitter and chewy which make them easier to eat. Spring roots also contain taraxacin that stimulate the production of bile.
Search for rich soil that usually produces the thickest roots. I always use this dandelion digger to damage the root as little as possible.
Chicory root can be used to make this delicious caffeine-free chicory coffee, however it can also be used to make the bitters. This plant of the dandelion family so it also contains prebiotic fibre inulin that improves gut health and is linked to weight loss (1)
This study suggests that inulin improves the metabolism of carbohydrates and therefore helps control blood sugar (2)
If you already happen to have dandelion and chicory tinctures on hand just dilute them with a bit of extra alcohol, add some red-orange peel and ginger and let it infuse for a few weeks.
Aromatic herbs or flavouring agents
I chose ginger root as one of the healthiest aromatic herbs on the planet. It can help to speed up the emptying of the stomach and lower the level of blood sugar (3). It makes for a great addition to our tummy bitter.
Red orange peel
Nutritious red-orange peel is packed with vitamin C, powerful antioxidants protecting our cells as well as flavonoids that are a good source of fiber.
Other aromatic herbs you can use include cinnamon, vanilla, hibiscus, turmeric, peppercorns, anise, nuts or dried fruits.
To maximize the extraction of potent herbs we use 50 % (100 proof)alcohol such as
- Grain alcohol
- Bourbon or any other 100 -proof alcohol.
Dandelion Bitter recipe
Wash the dandelion roots and chicory roots thoroughly removing all the dirty pieces.
By using a knife remove any remaining dirty pieces that didn’t wash away with water. Use a very sharp knife to cut the clean roots into small pieces/slices – depending on the sizes of the roots. Make sure they are small so they will roast/dry fast.
Spread dandelion roots on parchment paper and place in a cool, dry location with good airflow, and dry for 3 to 5 days
Or use a dehydrator to dry the roots at 95°F (35°C) until brittle
Slowly roast dandelion roots under 360 F (180 C) till they turn golden brown.
Put dried dandelion roots, chicory root, red-orange zest and ginger root into a 400 ml jar, then pour in 350 ml of vodka.
Cover the jar and let sit in a cold dark place for a minimum of 6 weeks
Strain out the herbs using a fine mesh sieve. Serve it chilled before meals, no more that 30 ml. Bitters are not suitable for kids.
How to take the dandelion bitter?
- Serve it chilled before meals, no more than 30 ml.
- You can take the bitters by the dropper-full, taking 1-2 droppers at a time directly in your mouth
- You could also squeeze it into a cup of tea or a glass of water
- Add to aperitive cocktails with a splash of sparkling water and grapefruit juice
I am allergic to ginger, can I replace ginger root in this recipe with something else?
There are a number of aromatic herbs that can be used instead such as cinnamon sticks, clove, star anise pods or cardamon pods.
How long will this dandelion bitter last?
If stored correctly, bitters (and extracts/tinctures) should last for up to 5 years. When it's starting to rot compost it.