With the holidays right around the corner, we thought we’d share a fun gift idea that you can make at home in your own kitchens. Bitters! They take about 1-2 weeks to infuse and get more delicious with time. Use them as a digestive or in cocktails!

Learn how easy it is to make your own homemade bitters!  An important health tonic that can boost digestion, balance liver health and so much more.  Bitters add beautiful interest and depth to drinks and cocktails. A fun and easy project that takes very little hands-on time! Perfect for holiday gifts and stocking stuffers.

Learn how easy it is to make your own homemade bitters!  An important health tonic that can boost digestion, balance liver health and so much more.  Bitters add beautiful interest and depth to drinks and cocktails. A fun and easy project that takes very little hands-on time! Perfect for holiday gifts and stocking stuffers.

Learn how easy it is to make your own homemade bitters!  An important health tonic that can boost digestion, balance liver health and so much more.  Bitters add beautiful interest and depth to drinks and cocktails. A fun and easy project that takes very little hands-on time! Perfect for holiday gifts and stocking stuffers.

What are bitters?

Bitters have been around a very, very long time.  It is said that ancient Egyptians infused wine with medicinal herbs.  Many cultures consider bitters an essential part of health.

Made of aromatic botanicals such as herbs, spices, flowers, roots, barks, fruits, nuts, and beans (like cacao and coffee), and infused in spirits such as vodka, brandy, rum, and whiskey.

The modern diet mostly excludes bitters.  But with growing awareness, we are realizing it is an essential part of the 5 tastes: salty, sweet, sour, umami, and bitter.  Bitter is important medicine!

Around the holidays we tend to indulge a bit more than usual, making it a perfect time to incorporate bitters into our daily regime.  They are also handy for traveling when we may eat foods our system is not accustomed to.

How to make Digestive bitters and Liver Tonic.  An important health tonic that can boost digestion, balance liver health and so much more.  Bitters add beautiful interest and depth to drinks and cocktails. A fun and easy project that takes very little hands-on time! Perfect for holiday gifts and stocking stuffers.

Health benefits of regular use of bitters:

  1. stimulates the production of digestive enzymes in your gut, leading to better absorption of nutrients.
  2. alleviates stress!  Happy Gut=Happier Brain=Less Stress.
  3. encourages the natural detoxification of the liver.
  4. strengthens digestive health.
  5. curbs sugar cravings.
  6. calms upset belly and nausea.
  7. helps the body absorb more nutrients from food.
  8. antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.
  9. AND more interesting and creative cocktails!

In order for bitters to really work, you have to taste them.  You need to experience the zingy tang on your tongue.  It may be a bit shocking at first as the bitter flavor can take some getting used to until your taste buds adjust.  Soon you may find you crave that bitter tingle on your tongue.  Truly, it really does happen!

“Your body continues to recognize the taste of bitter long after it hits your tongue.  That’s because there are bitter taste receptors throughout your body, including in your digestive tract and even in your lungs.  The act of tasting even a small something that’s bitter activates your entire digestive system.  The taste causes you to salivate, which is one of the first steps in the digestive process.  It also releases important gastric enzymes that help digest your proteins (among other things) and stimulates bile production, which helps you digest fats” says Rosalee De La Foret author of Alchemy Of Herbs. 

How to make bitters (in a nutshell):

  1. Gather ingredients and a jar with a tight-fitting lid.
  2. Fill the jars- your ratio should be about 1/3 dried material, add fresh fruit, if using, pour your spirit up to an inch of the top.
  3. Seal and shake!  Give it a shake daily or more.
  4. Let infuse for 1-2 weeks.
  5. Strain and bottle.

Two Essential ingredients in Bitters

  1. Bittering Agent
  2. Alcohol or Vinegar

For the most basic bitter medicine, that is all you need!  It also can then be your base to then create more flavor interest, balance, and depth.  As well as increasing nutrients and potency from adding more plants.

Common bittering agents (bitter plants for infusing):

  1. artichoke leaves– liver protectant, liver cell regenerator
  2. dandelion root– antioxidant, tonifies liver, anti-inflammatory
  3. dandelion leaf– digestive aid
  4. Burdock root– detoxifies the blood
  5. gentian root– tonifies liver, digestive aid, promotes gut health, cancer fighting compounds
  6. citrus peel- rich in flavonoids, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory
  7. yarrow– anti-spasmodic, anti-inflammatory, reduces flatulence
  8. chamomile– anti- inflammatory, digestive aid, calms body and mind
  9. mugwort– anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, digestive aid
  10. sarsaparilla– anti-inflammatory, helps overall liver function
  11. wild cherry bark– boosts immunity
  12. licorice root– anti-inflammatory, soothes digestive tissues, immune tonic
  13. cinchona bark-digestive aid

Spices, flowers and fruits can round out the bitter formulas, giving them balance and interesting undertones especially if using in cocktails.

It is fun to experiment and find flavor combinations you like.  I like to taste the bitters daily as they infuse.  At first, they strongly taste of alcohol, but slowly they begin to blossom into deeper and brighter flavors.  When the taste is to my liking,  I strain and bottle in 2-ounce dropper bottles.

How to use bitters:

  • for the best health benefit, take a few drops (up to a dropper full) on your tongue prior to eating for increased digestion.
  • taken after a meal they can help with gas and bloating.
  • add to sparkling or plain water.
  • use in cocktails and mocktails.

Shake daily to infuse botanicals.  A good time also to pause and know you are creating something for your good health!

Strain and bottle.

Here are the 2-ounce dropper bottles we used.

How to make Digestive bitters and Liver Tonic.  An important health tonic that can boost digestion, balance liver health and so much more.  Bitters add beautiful interest and depth to drinks and cocktails. A fun and easy project that takes very little hands-on time! Perfect for holiday gifts and stocking stuffers.

Bitters make amazing gifts!

Add labels and tags to the dropper bottles to create your own personal designs!

How to make Digestive bitters and Liver Tonic.  An important health tonic that can boost digestion, balance liver health and so much more.  Bitters add beautiful interest and depth to drinks and cocktails. A fun and easy project that takes very little hands-on time! Perfect for holiday gifts and stocking stuffers.

I am so excited for you to try these recipes for bitters!  There is so much variation and adaptability with ingredients, soon you’ll be coming up with your own amazing concoctions.  Let us know what you create!

Wishing for you and yours so much health and vitality,

💛Tonia

More DIY recipes you may like:

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How to make Digestive bitters and Liver Tonic.  An important health tonic that can boost digestion, balance liver health and so much more.  Bitters add beautiful interest and depth to drinks and cocktails. A fun and easy project that takes very little hands-on time! Perfect for holiday gifts and stocking stuffers.

How to make Bitters!

  • Author: Tonia Schemmel | Feasting at Home
  • Prep Time: 30
  • Cook Time: 1 week
  • Total Time: 168 hours 30 minutes
  • Yield: 1-1 1/2 cups 1x
  • Category: how to, dyi, gifts,
  • Method: infused
  • Cuisine: american

Description

Bitters add beautiful interest and depth to drinks and cocktails as well as being an important health tonic that can boost digestion and balance liver health.  Making your own bitters is a fun and easy project that takes very little hands-on time!


Ingredients

Scale

Liver Tonic Bitters

Digest Well Bitters

Rooty Whiskey Bitters

Ruby Brandy Bitters

  • 1 pint jar with tight-fitting lid
  • 2 tablespoon schisandra berries
  • 2 tablespoon hibiscus flower petals
  • 1 tablespoon Rose petals
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange peel
  • ¼ cup honey (optional- adjust to taste)
  • 11 ½ cups brandy

Instructions

  1. Place all ingredients in jar.
  2. Seal with lid.
  3. Shake at least once a day, agitation will help flavors and nutrients release more readily.
  4. Let infuse 1-2 weeks, tasting every few days.
  5. Filter and bottle. (Here are the dropper bottles we used.)

Notes

Vinegar can be used instead of alcohol.  (I have not tried it but it would be interesting to experiment with.)

It is advised to use at least 80 proof grain alcohol.  No need to splurge on fancy here.  I often will use 100 proof as stronger extracts more flavor and medicinal components of the botanicals.

I often omit the sweetener until the bitters have fully infused.  This allows for adjusting to taste.

Keywords: how to make bitters, digestive bitters, liver tonic recipe, how to make cocktail bitters, cocktail bitters recipe, bitters recipe

 

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Comments

  1. How long can I infuse the bitter botanicals in vodka? For example, if I were to infuse a mixture of the Digest Well bitters for two months, would it make the bitters unpalatable or toxic for any reason?

    1. Hi Pankaj, Totally fine to leave mixture in the alcohol, it doesn’t change the flavor or go bad.

  2. This is amazing. I have been formulating my home made bitters with roots and herbs from Africa. What’s the best way to add sweetness. I have tried infusing with pineapple and fig syrup during the aging process. The figs gets too thick and the fresh pineapples doesn’t get sweet enough. What do you suggest as a sweet ER which will hold for a couple of years in a bottle?

    1. I like using honey as it has many amazing preservative and healing properties. I also use maple syrup. Perhaps raisins or dates would work if you leave them whole and let infuse for a couple weeks?

  3. Hello,
    Thank you so much for posting this recipe! Would I be able to make the digestive bitters with limited ingredients? If so, how would that affect the ingredient ratios? For example if I was only able to use pineapple as the fruit, orange peel, ginger, arugula, and rosemary(and maybe dandelion root)what measurements of the arugula rosemary and dandelion root would I use to achieve digestive aid effect?
    Thank you:)

    1. The fun thing about bitters is you can just play around with flavors to find a combination you like. You might just look at the bitters recipes we have listed to get an idea of amounts and ratio to alcohol. Have fun experimenting!

  4. I’m not sure why I was so afraid to sample the concoction, at first. I made bitters to improve digestion and to address bloat. As vegan, I eat a lot, a lot of seeds and nuts and sometimes feel like I’m in my first trimester, and I’m a guy.
    So I was excited to try this, but the first whiff took whiskers off my lip – total alcohol, whoa!
    I admit, I couldn’t find gentian root anywhere and forgot to order it online. I kept steeping for four weeks, then five – thinking I’d finally get the root, but I gave up and decanted.
    Let the dropper full sit on my tongue for a while. It tasted really good, the anise flavoring came through, the alcohol didn’t dominate.
    And my tummy doesn’t pooch, I feel better after my main meal. Psychological? I dint think so – I trust Sylvia, she doesn’t make stuff up.
    Try this, y’all.

    1. I’m glad you were brave and gave it a try. Actually, this is my friend’s Tonia’s recipe post- she made me a batch years ago that I fell in love with so I asked her to share it here, thinking others may like it too. Anyway, glad you did!

  5. Can I switch apple for the pear? That one seems the most approachable for finding ingredients.
    Thanks always love your posts!

  6. I absolutely will be making all of these varieties. I love to Forage throughout the seasons and will definitely incorporate them into my bitters. Thank you so much for such an informative description.

  7. I am beyond excited to make all of your varieties and to have another health aid in my arsenal! Thanks so much for all of the work you put into this amazing and gorgeous blog. You have been such an inspiration for me to try more vegan recipes and different ethnic dishes.

  8. This looks so interesting, I’m excited to get my creative(and digestive) juices flowing. I was wondering if you had any suggestions on where you can find some of these unusual ingredients? Thank you for posting this!

  9. Would love to try these recipes. I think I am in the same area of the PNW as you. Where do you get your rare ingredients?

    1. I just added links to Amazon- but you can order from Mountain Rose Herbs or find at your local co-op in the bulk Section. I find a lot of these ingredeints at Huckleberries in Spokane.

  10. So excited to try – I don’t drink alcohol so am very pleased to see an alternative here. What types of vinegar would you suggest and do you think it would affect infusion time? Also, can you use herbs from loose leaf herbal tea?

    Many thanks,
    Jenny

    1. I am sure most any vinegar will work. But you may play around with different types for flavor profile. I think the infusion time would be the same. If you use raw apple cider vinegar with the “mother” I wouldn’t let it go past 2 weeks.
      Yes! Loose tea herbs are great!

  11. The root whiskey blotter is calling my name but I will definitely have to make them all! I am fasinted by bitters and the ease of making them. I’ll be on it soon!