Bitters recipe?

judsoncarroll4 Posts: 5,353 admin
edited October 2020 in Herbal Medicine-Making

Do you have a favorite recipe for bitters? I am beginning to experiment making my own, both medicinally and for drinks.

Here are a couple f websites with recipies:

And, here is one on Swedish Bitters, which are generally used medicinally



  • GardenMama
    GardenMama Posts: 95 ✭✭✭

    Oh I want to follow along with this and see what you come up with.

    I haven't made the jump into making my own. But I do use them medicinally depending on what i eat. Being gallbladder less makes it pretty necessary

  • Karin
    Karin Posts: 272 ✭✭✭

    @Desiree yes, you are on the right track - bitters can be so helpful in restoring digestive function. Sadly the bitter taste is lacking in many modern Western foods! We have a lot of sweet, but nothing to balance it out. Even foods that used to be bitter e.g. lettuce, have had it bred out and now are only mildly bitter or not bitter at all.

  • judsoncarroll4
    judsoncarroll4 Posts: 5,353 admin

    @Desiree I know what what you mean about developing a taste for them. I have not yet tried the Swedish bitters, but definitely plan to. I LOVE agnostura bitters. If they were not so expensive I'd be tempted to have a full 1 oz shot of plan bitters. I like the ones made with gentian best. But, I think I'll do a combination of gentian, dandelion and burdock, wormwood, mint, juniper berries, cloves, star anise, licorice, cinnamon and citrus peel.... probably a tincture of each, separately and then begin experimenting with blending them. A floral component may be nice, too... forsythia flowers have a nice bitterness, with a very pleasant aroma. Anyway, that is what I'm thinking so far, @GardenMama

  • judsoncarroll4
    judsoncarroll4 Posts: 5,353 admin
    edited August 2020

    Wild lettuce might be a nice addition, and would be calming, too. I seem to recall that Swedish Bitters include can valerian. Oh, and angelica - love angelica!

  • Linda Bittle
    Linda Bittle Posts: 1,500 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I thought this one looked worth trying.

    And I own this book, but haven't had a chance to open it yet. It's on my list...

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,502 admin

    @Judson Carroll

    Bitters are WONDERFUL! Love them! All flavours. I used Angostura bitters for a long time before I started making my own. Yes, gentian is one of my favourite ingredients, too. Haven't tried angelica root in any recipe yet.

    Rosalee de la Foret's website and the LearningHerbs website both have good bitters recipes. I have made her Pear Spiced Bitters and it is very good. Also, really like the Douglas Fir and Mandarin Bitters in the Wild Remedies book. This is a link to one I have been meaning to try. Good for the heart as well as the digestive system. This next one is also one I have wanted to try. It is vinegar based but I think you could adjust it to use brandy (or your choice of alcohol). Probably be good with a rye or bourbon whiskey.

    I like your idea of tincturing individual herbs and then combining them. Little bit of this, little bit of that; and see what you come up with. I've never tired it that way, always just combining all ingredients to infuse together.

    @GardenMama Just jump right in. there are lots of simple recipes with easy to find ingredients. Its fun experimenting with what you have on hand, too.

  • Karin
    Karin Posts: 272 ✭✭✭

    @torey I have just loked at the recipe for the grapefruit bitters, having just been given a large bag of grapefruit! Have you tried it? I am a little worried about the amount of honey overpowering the bitter taste. What are your thoughts on honey in a bitter tonic?

  • judsoncarroll4
    judsoncarroll4 Posts: 5,353 admin

    Not yet. you can be the pioneer that tells us if it is good! I imagine you could cut back on the honey, to taste. But, from what i was reading in the Swedish Bitters info, some sweetness is good.

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,502 admin

    No, I haven't made it yet. It is on my list of recipes to try, along with the strawberry vinegar one. I really don't like sweet in with my bitters but that is just a personal preference. I usually will use the lowest amount recommended or cut the sweet by at least half in any bitters recipe.

  • This is a good recipe for homesteaders looking to replicate that Angostura bitters taste:

  • Another natural intersection of homesteading and bitters-lovers is that you can make a great bitters recipe from dandelion roots. With the herbalism focus of this community, it should be a real winner!

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,502 admin

    OK. I have just made Rosalee's vinegar based Strawberry & Chamomile Bitters.

    Even though I have just made it, I can already tell, I will be making this again. Very easy. Local ingredients. I added 2 tsp of the optional artichoke leaves, because I had them but also because I like the taste of bitter. I put the honey in but slightly less than was called for. I may alter that in future batches. I also added 10 black peppercorns, because, well, I just love pepper.

    It is going to make a fabulous salad dressing. So this will be a great way to get bitters into people who object to taking bitters on their own. Great for people who want bitters but want to avoid alcohol based ones.

    So I'm chopping up the rest of my strawberries into one cup bags for the freezer for future Strawberry bitters. I am looking forward to changing this up a bit with other bitter ingredients. .

    I will post updates as this batch ages to see how it develops.

  • blevinandwomba
    blevinandwomba Posts: 813 ✭✭✭✭

    My digestion has been off lately, so I've been pondering trying to make kombucha bitters- I don't want to use alcohol and glycerine is not something I keep on hand. Well, if Rosalee makes it with vinegar, I guess kombucha is worth a shot. I'll be doing one of the versions without the fruit, though.

  • Desiree
    Desiree Posts: 255 ✭✭✭

    @judsoncarroll4 the recipe I am using includes gentian, ginger, orange peel, turmeric and licorice. I tincture each individually. I started experimenting from there. I made a 1 part of each first, NOPE! yucky! and then just kept playing till I found a blend I liked. It may be different for someone else. Just to clarify, I was experimenting with drops of each at first. I didn't want an ounce of something I wouldn't use. You should see my notebook of all the tests and computations, but I do it for any blended tincture/tea/syrup.

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,502 admin

    I should have mentioned. I used straight apple cider vinegar in the Strawberry & Chamomile Bitters recipe. I didn't have any balsamic vinegar but even if I had some I wanted to make it as local as possible (except for the black pepper which wasn't in the original recipe).

  • Ferg
    Ferg Posts: 285 ✭✭✭

    @Karin there are some bitter things that I like, (like quinine), but I have an overdeveloped bitter taste palate. Most beers, even smooth beers, are unpalatably bitter to me. I despise bitter lettuce - if I eat lettuce, I want a fresh, clean, non-bitter taste. I was totally unprepared for my German CSA lettuce - happily prepared a salad and couldn't eat it, it was so bitter. Anyway, if you like bitter lettuce, Seed Saver's Exchange has any lettuce you could want (the exchange part, not the store, where you get your seeds from other people). They have members all over the world.

  • Ferg
    Ferg Posts: 285 ✭✭✭

    @Judson Carroll - I really would love to have an angostura type bitters recipe!! Orange sounds quite nice as well.

  • rbusby01
    rbusby01 Posts: 115 ✭✭✭
  • andrea745
    andrea745 Posts: 89 ✭✭✭

    @blevinandwomba I cannot do any kombucha, but I love bitters. Some people with digestive issues have to be careful with some ferments. I have not tried to make my own. I was following a health coach named Summer Bock. She is an expert on bitters. I am not sure if she shares her recipes for free or just sells them. I know she has a course in creating bitters. Great conversation.

  • blevinandwomba
    blevinandwomba Posts: 813 ✭✭✭✭

    @andrea745 I've been making my own kombucha for years, so it's something I always have on hand. As far as I can tell, it agrees with me pretty well, but I know that's not the case for everybody.

  • judsoncarroll4
    judsoncarroll4 Posts: 5,353 admin

    I found a copycat recipe:

    Angostura Ingredients:

    2 tbsp dried orange peel

    zest of 1 orange

    1/4 cup sour cherries

    2 cinnamon sticks

    1 vanilla bean- seeds scraped 

    1/4 tsp cloves

    1/4 cup quassia chips

    2 juniper berries

    1/8 tsp cocoa nibs

    pinch of black walnut leaf

    1/2 tsp cassia chips

    1/4 tsp wild cherry bark

    1/4 tsp orris root

    Rich Syrup:

    2 cups turbinado sugar

    1 1/2 cups water


    5 quart size mason jars


    2 funnels- one small/ one large

    12 1oz boston round bottle w/ dropper

  • Ferg
    Ferg Posts: 285 ✭✭✭

    @Judson Carroll Thank you so much! This is totally awsome!

  • Jaylene
    Jaylene Posts: 53 ✭✭✭

    That recipe looks really good. I usually just tincture different bitter herbs and citrus peels and then add together for different combinations and sometimes play around with different percentages of alcohol

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,502 admin

    Update on the Strawberry & Chamomile Vinegar Bitters.

    It has been 4 days. If you are not accustomed to the taste of bitters and want to start slowly, then this might be a good time to strain this out. I can taste the bitter more strongly than yesterday. I am going to leave mine for a couple more days, I think. We'll see what it is like tomorrow.

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,502 admin

    Final update on the Strawberry & Chamomile Vinegar Bitters.

    It has been 7 days. I strained it this morning. It is really lovely. Not quite as bitter as I would like but certainly bitter enough for the rest of my family.

    I highly recommend this as a "gateway" bitter. Once you start with bitters, you will only want to take this further.

    Looking forward to trying the Angostura recipe that @judsoncarroll4 has posted. Sourcing out all the ingredients might take a bit of time.

    Good luck to everyone on their bitters journey.

  • blevinandwomba
    blevinandwomba Posts: 813 ✭✭✭✭

    I just mixed up my kombucha bitters. I had planned to a citrus-dandelion root-spices mix, but I cannot find any dandelion root. I did find a bag of oregon grape root that I bought and never used. So, I put a little of that in. I'm a little scared as I hear it's pretty fiercely bitter- on the other hand, I've had this for a while, so maybe it isn't so strong. I'll post my recipe if it turns out edible.

    I thought I'd already posted this. Well, I already have an update. I decided to taste it, even though it had been less than an hour and... Oh me oh my, it will already curl your toes! Admittedly, I don't have a strong toleration for bitter. I like my coffee and dark chocolate bitter, but that's about it. However, though the aftertaste is quite lingering, it isn't nasty. Here's what I put in it- this is not based on any great bitters knowledge, just on the recipes that were posted.

    1 Tbs. dried calamondin peel (homegrown! Calamondins are a very sour citrus, but the peel is quite mild and bittersweet)

    1 tsp. dried grapefruit peel

    1tsp. oregon grape root

    1/2 tsp. coriander

    9 cardamon pods, cracked open a bit

    1/4 tsp. cassia cinnamon chips

    8 peppercorns

    I put the above in a small jar and covered with kombucha- came by later and added a little more, as much of it had been soaked up.

    Can anyone give me an idea how long to steep this? It already taste as strong as I expected it to, but I'm assuming I'll get more beneficial properties if I wait?