Cherry bark

Cherry branchesI recently received the gift of a broken limb from a wild black cherry tree (Prunus serotina).  Portions of it were a perfect size for obtaining fresh cherry bark for a tincture or a cough syrup.  When I got the branches home and began to “cut bark from branches into long strips,” I found I was only getting “chips” of bark and not “strips.” So I decided to check in with the deva of the cherry branches and tincture making.  I was told to wait about three days before harvesting the bark.

So I waited.  When I attempted to strip the bark this time, it worked easily and beautifully!  This photo shows the process of stripping the bark.

Cherry bark stripping processI used a utility knife because that was what I had available.  Any sharp knife would do.  The potent part of the bark is the “inner bark” and not the outer thin covering we tend to think of as the bark of a tree.  After I cut off strips, I then scraped off more of the inner bark.  This shows the cherry bark right after I removed it from the branch — and before it began to dry to a dark cherry color.

Cherry bark stripsThe smell of cherry was magnificent as I worked with it.  After I had a quart jar full of cherry bark, I poured 100 proof vodka over it to begin the tincture process.

Pouring vodka over cherry barkI applied the lid and a label and now the tincture is steeping for at least six weeks.

Cherry bark tincture

Once the cherry bark tincture was made, I went back to stripping bark from more branches.  That bark is drying in a bowl and waiting for the day when I will make a wild cherry cough syrup.

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