Supplies

Filters: Filtering in stages from coarse to fine will speed up the process. A standard mesh sieve that rests over a bowl is often the first step, although cheesecloth can also be useful, especially if the solids need to have the liquid pressed out of them. For removing smaller particles, a very fine mesh chinois works well. Tiny particles of sediment will require a pass through a gold coffee filter and/or a paper coffee filter.

Funnels: Having a couple of different funnels on hand will greatly simplify the process of getting your mixtures from one container to another. A small funnel (silicon is nice because it can fold up to fit in a drawer) will take care of getting liquids into bottles, while a canning funnel, with its wide mouth, can accommodate solids.

Mason jars: For use in extractions and macerations, inexpensive mason jars are perfect. They come in a variety of sizes, seal tightly to allow shaking, and won’t affect the flavors. You can find them in some hardware stores and grocery stores. I get mine from Smart and Final.

Bamboo steamer: These make beautiful sticky rice for jiuniang (rice wine). A two-tiered 12″ steamer can handle 3 pounds of rice.

Zester/grater: The Microplane zester produces a very fine zest quickly and with no pith. That results in a faster maceration with no accidental bitterness.

Swivel peeler: For strips of peel, either a swivel or Y-peeler will work. With citrus, care must be taken to avoid including the bitter pith.

Bottles and canisters: It’s good to have a nice vessel for the finished product. Swing-top bottles are pretty enough to give as gifts, and come in a number of sizes. For bitters, a small bottle with either an eyedropper or dasher (aka “woozy”) top is ideal. Large glass canisters are perfect for projects like rice wine or tibicos (water kefir) cultivation. The Container Store carries a lot of options, but depending on the quantity you want, it might be cheaper to order from Specialty Bottle.

Tape: Temporary tape labels help you keep track of what’s in the container, when it went in, and when it should come out. Both painter’s tape and gaffer’s tape come in different colors, are easy to write on, and come off glass without residue.

Labels: Once your concoction is finished, you may want something nicer than a tape label, especially if you’ll be giving it as a gift. Online Labels has a huge number of options at a good price with fast delivery. You can write on them by hand, or use the company’s web-based label-designing program to create a layout that you print at home.

Dried herbs and spices: Dandelion Botanicals in Seattle carries a staggering array of options, all available in quantities as small as one ounce. Their listings indicate whether the item is grown wild, organically, or commercially.

Culinary spices: For more standard culinary spices, Penzeys offers great selection and prices (assuming you can’t find what you need at a local market).

Tea: I get all my tea from Harney and Sons – not only do they have the best Earl Grey I have ever tasted, they also stock an incredible range of quality teas they’ve found all over the world.

Tibicos (water kefir grains): If you don’t have someone local with extra to give away, Keysands sells reliably vigorous starter amounts through Amazon.

Ginger beer plant: Available from The Ginger Beer Plant in England, where home-brewed ginger beer used to be a common tradition.

Yeast: Locally I go to Eagle Rock Home Brewing Supply. Amazon also carries some varieties. I find my rice wine yeast at 99 Ranch Market.

Cacao nibs: Navitas Naturals from Amazon.

Green walnuts: These are only available for a short time in June each year. You can pre-order from Haag Farm.

Raw honey: A local farmer’s market is your best bet.