TBT: How to Make an Herbal Vinegar

I originally started my rather erractic herbal blog in 2008. I can't believe how long ago that was! I'll be posting entries from my old blog every Thursday. My first, by request, is on how to make an herbal vinegar, originally posted in 2009.

How to Make an Herbal Vinegar

Sunday, February 15th, 2009

This is modified from the article I hand out with my herbal vinegars class. Vinegar leaches the minerals from the herb or weed. Weeds are high in minerals as bringing up minerals from the subsoil is their action in nature. Ever see how far down a root on a dandelion or burdock goes? Really far! Since herbs are basically weeds and they are full of minerals, too. So, especially if you’re into Nourishing Traditions/Weston A. Price type of diet, herbal vinegars are for YOU!

Good health depends upon getting enough minerals in our diets. These days it is more difficult to get enough minerals by consuming foods - even organic foods. Our agricultural soils have become depleted. Herbal vinegars can help us get the minerals we need for good health. Herbs, many of them commonly though of as weeds, have deep roots and bring minerals up from the subsoil. Putting these weeds into an acid menstruum such as vinegar leaches the minerals and vitamins from the plant material making them very bio-available. Apple cider vinegar also acts as a vehicle for the medicinal components of the plant (alkaloids), often making the vinegar medicinal as well as nutritious. ACV in and of itself is a nutritious food and acts as a digestive tonic. Herbal vinegars charge your body with minerals giving you extra energy (or, maybe, the energy you should have!). And, let’s not forget that herbal vinegars are darn tasty, too!

Basic Instructions for Making Herbal Vinegars

  • Any size jar with plastic lid (this is important)

  • Chopstick/butter knife

  • Kitchen knife for chopping

  • Herb of your choice, amount depending on the size of your jar

  • Vinegar: apple cider vinegar, rice vinegar (NOT white vinegar!) Pasteurized is best here, but unpasteurized will work fine. It just won’t last as long.

Gather the herb of your choice, enough to fill your jar nicely full when chopped but not overly stuffed. Fill the jar with vinegar & poke with chopstick to release any air bubbles. Add more vinegar if you need to.. Cap with a plastic cap or layer several pieces of plastic wrap/wax paper between jar & metal lid. Label with herb, type of vinegar, & date made. Let it sit for 6 weeks away from direct light (indirect light is okay). Strain out plant material & enjoy!

Using Your Vinegar

Use your vinegar in salad dressings, marinades, condiment - anywhere you’d usually use vinegar. I especially like it with kale or any green. You can also make a mineral energy charge drink. Take 1 TBS herb vinegar and 1 TBS molasses or honey in 8 oz of water.

Here are some excellent herbs for vinegars:

  • White pine needle - makes a “balsamic” vinegar

  • Mugwort leaf

  • Lavender leaf/flower - also use as facial toner or deodorant

  • Comfrey leaf - high in calcium, chromium, manganese, niacin, potassium, riboflavin, selenium, silicon, Vitamin A & C

  • Red Raspberry leaves - high in calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, niacin, selenium, Vitamin C & A

  • Dandelion root & leaves - high in iron, manganese, phosphorus, Vitamin A

  • Burdock root - high in chromium, iron, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, thiamine, silicon, zinc, Vitamin A

  • Lamb’s Quarters - high in calcium, manganese, Vitamin A & C

  • Nettle leaf - high in calcium, chromium, magnesium, cobalt, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, riboflavin, selenium, silicon, thiamine, zinc, Vitamin A & Vitamin C

  • Yellow Dock/Curly Dock root - high in calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, riboflavin, selenium, thiamine, Vitamin A & C

  • Catnip - high in chromium, manganese, potassium, selenium

  • Peppermint - high in calcium, iron, magnesium, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, riboflavin, thiamine, Vitamin A

  • Thyme leaf - high in calcium, chromium, cobalt, iron, magnesium, riboflavin, selenium, silicon, thiamine, sodium,

  • Sage leaf - high in calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, thiamine, zinc, Vitamin A

  • Rosemary leaf/flower

  • Hyssop herb

  • Chickweed herb - high in calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, silicon, Vitamin A, zinc

  • Violet leaf/flower - high in Vitamin A, Vitamin C

  • Red Clover Blossom - high in calcium, chromium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, thiamine, Vitamin C

  • Yarrow leaf/flower - high in calcium, chromium, potassium, riboflavin, selenium, thiamine, Vitamin C

FRUITS - some fruits make excellent vinegars, too.

  • Raspberry: Make raspberry shrub, an old drink. Make your vinegar & strain out fruit. Measure liquid. Add honey or sugar at the rate one half amount the amount of liquid (i.e. for 2 cups of vinegar add 1 cup sweetener) & heat until the sweetener melts into the vinegar. Keeps for 2 years with out refrigeration. To make the drink: take 1/4 cup of shrub & mix with 2 cups of sparkling water. YUM!

  • Elderberry, blackberry - great for salad dressings

ABOUT THE NUTRIENTS

As you can see from the above listing, most herbs are high in many minerals people are often deficient in today and in amounts that work synergistically together.

  • Herbs high in calcium are often also high in magnesium. These two minerals work together for bone health. Calcium alone doesn’t do it.

  • Vitamin C is needed in your body so you can absorb iron. Most herbs listed above if high in iron are also high in Vitamin C. Note that of the herbs listed above, high chromium is listed for eight of these herbs.

  • Chromium is needed in your body for efficient metabolism. A deficiency in chromium has been implicated in type 2 diabetes. It’s used in the production of insulin and if you’re even slightly deficient in chromium your blood sugar will be elevated. Many people eat chromium depleting refined foods - white sugar, white flour – while having no source of chromium in their diets. Most people today are deficient in chromium.

  • Selenium is also a nutrient many people don’t get enough of. Selenium is an antioxidant, preventing the conversion of free radicals into carcinogens; acting much like Vitamin E does. It may also protect against cardiovascular disease and strengthen the immune system.

For further reading:

  • Healing Wise by Susun Weed

  • Opening Our Wild Hearts to the Healing Herbs by Gail Faith Edwards

  • Nutritional Herbology by Mark Pedersen

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