How to Turn Plants Into Tinctures, Like an Ancient Alchemist

Hieronymus Brunschwig had a cure for whatever ailed you, and it all came down to plants. More specifically, it hinged on coaxing things from them.

In the early 1500s, the German surgeon-alchemist was sure that distillation could do some very heavy lifting when it came to human health. Brunschwig believed that distillation—one method of extracting flavors from flowers, herbs, and other plants, by boiling and condensing water—could calibrate the body, which was frustratingly prone to falling out of whack.

A tall order, but Brunschwig was not one to shy away from an encyclopedic effort. In his book, one of the first printed distillation manuals, he arranged plants alphabetically, and noted their sneaky synonyms. He tallied the afflictions that various plants could defeat, and annotated which portions of flowers, stalks, and leaves were especially potent. He even indicated the months when each plant species were at their most formidable.
“Water of lekes,” distilled from roots in June, may be a balm “after the byrth of a chylde,” he wrote. “Water of lettys,” swallowed at “mornynge and nyght,” could comfort the “lyver.” The book promises drinkable salves for nearly any malady from head to toe, however ineffable. You could distill a remedy for headaches, marital discord, or bad dreams. You might chug some water of dill, or dab a bit on your temples.

There’s a long history here. Ancient Arabic alchemists made tinctures by macerating flowers and herbs, accenting them with spices, and setting them to boil and condense in glass vials over wood fires. By the Middle Ages, distillation was widely practiced by physicians, botanists, and apothecaries. The Victorians were enamored with tinctures, and during the Prohibition era in the United States, when alcohol was hard to come by, moonshiners applied the principles of distillation to make high-octane booze. (In the U.S., it’s still very much illegal to craft your own hard liquor at home, though Americans are permitted to buy and use distillation paraphernalia for other purposes.)

There’s no indication that Brunschwig’s concoctions made good on their many promises; if your marriage is on the rocks, no flower or herb is likely to save it. While herbal remedies remain popular throughout much of the world, they’re not typically tested or regulated the way modern medicines are. As a result, in many places, including the United States, sellers aren’t allowed to market essential oils or other contemporary tinctures as cures for specific diseases.

Theoretical curative properties aside, there are delicious reasons to extract flavors from plants. Compared with the complicated process of distillation, infusion (the method of stewing petals, stalks, or leaves in alcohol, oil, honey, or water) is nearly foolproof. Steeped in tradition, it’s an easy and affordable way to jazz up foods and drinks from trifles to tipples.

We asked Sarah Lohman, a historic gastronomist and the author of Eight Flavors: The Untold Story of American Cuisine, to lay out a recipe for making simple infusions at home.

Read More- How to Turn Plants Into Tinctures, Like an Ancient Alchemist – Atlas Obscura

Intimate Portraits of Boa Muerte, Where the ‘Sisterhood of the Good Death’ Honors Afro-Brazilian Ancestors

The ‘Sisterhood of the Good Death’ are a group of devout women n Brazil that honor the lives of Black people who have passed with an annual celebratory event called Boa Morte.

Read more – Intimate Portraits of Boa Muerte, Where the ‘Sisterhood of the Good Death’ Honors Afro-Brazilian Ancestors – Broadly

Jack Nicholson’s Grandson to Make Acting Debut in Jordan Peele’s ‘Us’ (EXCLUSIVE) — Variety

In his film debut, Duke Nicholson, the grandson of acting legend Jack Nicholson, has joined the supporting cast of “Us,” the new thriller from director and Academy Award-winner Jordan Peele. He joins a cast that already includes Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Emmy-winner Elisabeth Moss, and Tim Heidecker. Plot details are being kept under wraps. The…

via Jack Nicholson’s Grandson to Make Acting Debut in Jordan Peele’s ‘Us’ (EXCLUSIVE) — Variety

Patty McCormack on Returning to ‘The Bad Seed’ and the Gory, Unmade Eli Roth Version

From executive producer/director/star Rob Lowe, the Lifetime Television reimagining of the iconic 1956 psychological horror film The Bad Seed follows a single father (Lowe) who seems to have everything under control, until a tragedy hits too close to home and forces him to question everything he thought he knew about his sweet, beloved and highly driven daughter. As more and more bad things happen to people surrounding Emma (brilliantly played by Mckenna Grace, with a performance that will give you chills), he begins to wonder just what his own daughter is capable of and what he is willing to do to stop it.

During this 1-on-1 phone interview with Collider, actress Patty McCormack (nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her own brilliant performance in the original, at the age of 10) talked about bringing The Bad Seed into present-day, when and how she learned about this new remake, the previous version that director Eli Roth almost made, why this story is more effective without overdoing it on the blood and gore, the fun of playing the psychiatrist who treats this new Bad Seed, getting to see what Mckenna Grace did with the role, working with director Rob Lowe, realizing that The Bad Seed was something that she would always be remembered for, and what’s guided her career, over the years

Read more – Patty McCormack on Returning to ‘The Bad Seed’ and the Gory, Unmade Eli Roth Version – Collider

Celebrate ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ 25th Anniversary with the Sing-Along Edition Blu-ray

Believe it or not, Tim Burton‘s twisted vision of a Halloween/Christmas mash-up, The Nightmare Before Christmas, first danced and sang its way into theaters 25 years ago this Halloween. While it will of course be airing this holiday season on Freeform’s 31 Nights of Halloween, you can get your hands on a brand new copy of the stop-motion animated classic even earlier with this new 25th anniversary Blu-ray.

In addition to the gorgeous presentation of director Henry Selick‘s original theatrical version of the Oscar-nominated film, this new Blu-ray version comes with a Sing-Along Edition that makes for the perfect family viewing experience. While the songs from legendary composer/lyricist Danny Elfman are super-catchy and easy to sing along with as they are, this version makes things even easier by displaying the lyrics across the screen, karaoke-style. And after you’ve watched the 76-minute classic for the hundredth time, there are a ton of Bonus Features to enjoy. There’s both the newly added Song Selection function, which lets you sing along with whatever song you want without skipping through the whole movie, plus a fantastic collection of Classic Bonus Features.

Read More – Celebrate ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ 25th Anniversary with the Sing-Along Edition Blu-ray – Bloody Disgusting