This site would not be complete without me posting a thing or two about VINEGAR.
I truly love this menstruum. The more I learn about it and use it in my daily diet, the more I appreciate it.
Vinegar is commonly found in most everyone’s household. Whether you use it for cleaning, for pickling, for cooking, or as a salad dressing (or even on your potato chips), vinegar is abundant and often overlooked.
A little Vinegar History
Since the days of Hippocrates, medicinal vinegar preparations were made by macerating both medicinal or culinary plants.
D.C. Jarvis, M.D. wrote a book called Folk Medicine. In his book, Jarvis discusses the medicinal properties of apple cider vinegar. Apparently, before the mainstream pharmacy came into being, apple cider vinegar, along with wine, oil and honey, was used in folkloric practices as a health-enhancing menstruum. So, in the eighteen hundreds both culinary herbalism and folk medicine used vinegar as a menstruum to extract healing qualities of herbs. A popular example of the use of medical vinegar in the pharmacopoeias of many countries is the FourThieves Vinegar.
It wasn’t until the early nineteen hundred when medical administrators decided to eliminate the use of vinegar as an official menstruum in pharmacies. One can only guess why the medical industry began to take vinegar and wine off the pharmaceutical market, but I wonder if it has something to do with the uncontrolled fermentation process. There is a lot of good bacteria in vinegar, but in the mainstream medical world, distilled alcohol and harsh solvent-preservatives are far more “controlled”.
Vinegar extracts the medicinal constituents of plants, yet also carries many healing properties of its own. Since it is a derivative of apples or grapes, it contains natural sugars, starch, gluten and gum, and most importantly the fruit’s minerals (such as potassium). And as herbalist James Green writes, “potassium…plays a major role in human metabolism, respiration, blood conditioning, and nervous system vitalization.”
Have you ever wondered how a chicken stays so moist when you bake it? Well, what ingredients are recommended to marinate or baste your chicken with? Vinegar helps keep your meat firm and moist. It’s technically tonifying your chicken and it has the same effects on our body. Many herbalist use vinegar as a facial/hair cleanser and tonic because it both tightens our skin and moistens our cells. It’s what witch’s use to retain their youth and beauty ;)
Here’s a list of benefits that I’ve gathered from James Green’s book, The Herbal Medicine Maker’s Handbook:
-PURE vinegar promotes the flow of saliva, helping to diminish thirst
-Vinegar helps manage fever by diminishing the frequency of the pulse and the heat of the skin
-Externally, it cleanses, tonifies and conditions the skin
-Vinegars antiseptic properties help relieve skin inflammations, sunburn and itching
-Applied to the skin it’s cooling, which can help aid the healing of bruises and sprains
-Internally, naturally fermented vinegar is a tonic for the entire digestive tract
**It promotes secretions in the kidneys and respiratory mucous membranes, hence speeding up the metabolism
-It’s a food source that is high in minerals
-Vinegar in NON-TOXIC
If you ever have more questions about vinegars, please contact me. I make many vinegar infusions, including oxymels and shrubs (vinegar and honey herbal infusions), and I love to share them with people. In the meantime, enjoy making your own infusion…
How to make a Vinegar Infusion:
1. Harvest fresh herb (flower or leaf in this case) at appropriate time in seasonal calendar
2. Fill one-pint jar 1/3 full with leaves/flowers/fruits **You can macerate or chop the herbal material if you’d like the vinegar to infuse faster
3. Cover leaf/flower/fruit with room temperature apple cider vinegar (or vinegar of choice) and fill jar to the first grooved line at the top (a common place to stop for canning)
4. Cap your jar with a plastic lid or put a plastic bag/wrap between the metal lid and jar so that the vinegar won’t corrode the metal
5. Label your jar
6. Stir or shake the jar every day (or as often as you remember) for one week
7. Let sit for 5-6 more weeks (or longer! The longer it sits the more flavor and herbal absorption is made by the vinegar)
8. Strain or keep herbal material in and use it with the vinegar on your food
Vinegars normally last for about 1 year, but experiment and see how the vinegar changes over time :)
1. Harvest herb at appropriate time or use dried herb (root/fruit/leaf)
2. Macerate or grind herb to a coarse powder
3. Fill one-pint jar ¼ full with macerated or ground material
4. Cover herbal material with warm vinegar (not boiling, but warm enough to penetrate the dried or harder root material)
5. Follow Culinary steps 4-7
6. Strain after 5 weeks
7. Heat the infusion to the boiling point (but don’t boil)
8. Pour into sterilized glass bottle, and cap.
To start, Herbs to infuse in Culinary Vinegar:
Strawberry or raspberry leaves
To start, skin and hair herbs for vinegars: