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Bitters aid digestion, stimulate bile juices, and calm the nerves, engaging the para-sympathetic nervous system. When you taste bitters, your heart rate slows down, your glandular and intestinal activity increases, and the muscles in your intestinal tract relax, getting ready to digest. Your fight or flight response is relaxed in order to allow your body to nourish itself. Bitters stoke the inner digestive fire. And when the digestion is working optimally, so is the body.

Grapefruit and Chocolate Bitters

  • Author: Joybilee Farm
  • Prep Time: 10 min.
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 13 - 2 ounce bottles 1x
  • Category: Herbs
  • Method: Infusion


Grapefruit and chocolate bitters uses easily accessible herbs and spices to create a remedy to ease digestive discomfort.


  • 2 organic grapefruit peels (use the fruit for something else)
  • ½ cup of organic cacao nibs
  • 2 tbsp. of grated fresh organic ginger root
  • 1 tbsp. organic fennel seed
  • 2 organic vanilla beans, halved and scraped
  • 1 750ml bottle of 40% alcohol vodka (organic if possible)


  • It’s important to use organic ingredients as much as possible.  The alcohol will leach any chemicals used in the ingredients into your bitters.  That would be nasty.
  • Clean and sanitize a wide mouth quart jar.  Peel and eat the grapefruit, or set the fruit portion aside for another recipe.
  • Tear the grapefruit peels into small pieces, about an inch is a good size.  Place them in the jar.  Add the cocoa nibs, ginger root, and fennel seed to the jar.  Split the vanilla beans in half along the long side.  Scrape the vanilla beans and add all of it to the jar.  (Note: you can use vanilla beans leftover from making vanilla.  They will still have lots of flavour.) Pour the alcohol into the jar and fill to within ½ inch of the top.  Cap tightly.  Give the jar a shake.  Add more alcohol if necessary to maintain the 1/2 inch headspace.
  • Place in a cool, dark cupboard for 2 to 3 weeks.  Shake the jar whenever you think of it.  After 3 weeks strain the contents, reserving the liquid. The marc (the spent herbal material) can be composted.
  • I use a potato ricer, to get the last drops of the tincture.   You’ll need good arm strength, so get help if necessary to give it a good squeeze.  If you don’t have a potato ricer, put the marc in a tightly woven cloth and wring out as much liquid as you can.
  • Pour into dark, glass bottles and cap tightly.  Label and date.
  • Store in a cool, dark place.  Bitters will keep for several years without loss of quality.


 To Use:

About 20 minutes before a meal place 1 to 5 drops of digestive bitters on your tongue.  Taste and swallow.  If you are using bitters to quell food cravings, you can take up to 7 doses of bitters in a day.

Grapefruit peel is only mildly bitter.  For children over 2 years of age put drops of bitters in a half cup of water to dilute the flavour somewhat.

If you are new to using digestive bitters, use a small amount at first. You can increase the amount as you get used to how your own body reacts to them.  If you feel discomfort cut back on the amount of bitters.  Expect to see improvement within 3 weeks.  Herbs work more gently than drugs.


  • Serving Size: 5 drops to 1/4 teaspoon
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