I make tinctures "folk medicine style" following a basic ratio. I don't like complex things so this method suits me just fine. The tincture may not come out as potent this way but it's enough to get some help and relief, especially if I combine the use of tinctures along with teas/infusions and/or herbal capsules (that are also fun to make).
Since I don't need a big quantity of tincture, I just calculated the right amount of herbs for 2 oz (approximately 60 ml) of liquid. I made an elder tincture: I chose to combine both the berries and the blossoms because I have observed that different parts of a same plant seem to have similar yet complementary properties (my future experiments with include dandelion leaves & roots as well as hawthorn blossoms & berries).
So to my little 2 oz glass jar, I added 1/4 tbsp organic dried elder blossoms and 1/4 tbsp organic dried elderberries (sambucus nigra or canadensis) that I covered with 100 proof vodka (I tried 80 proof vodka before but I wasn't really impressed with the result). I will let everything infuse in a semi-dark place for 4 to 6 weeks...After just a few minutes, my tincture already turned to a purplish-rosy color.
When it comes to extracting nourishment from herbs (vitamins and minerals), then I use organic apple cider vinegar. I recently made a dandelion leaf ACV tincture with fresh dandy leaves from the farmers market...OK, it's not the wild stuff but even farmed dandelion is pretty bitter. It came out quite nice. I like its "bouquet" (scent) and its flavor is more than tolerable. This method works well with "weeds" such as nettle, plantain, chickweed...etc. I recomment reading Susun Weed's article about herbal vinegars (their benefits, how to prepare them & how to use them): http://www.susunweed.com/herbal_ezine/Weed_letter_Apr-02.htm#article
Note that it's usually better to use fresh (homegrown or ethically wildcrafted herbs) following the rythm of the season...But right now it's too late for harvesting berries (which are more blue than black around here) and too early for the blossoms.
I shall talk soon more in depth about the wonderful natural gifts provided by our herbal allies...