Herbal Vinegars are one of the easiest tonic medicines Herbalists of all sorts can make. Vinegar soaks in minerals, like selenium, calcium, magnesium, and Zinc, with ease. That makes it a smart choice for herbs like Bottle Brush/Horse Tail, Oatstraw, Raspberry leaf, and Nettle. It absorbs the bacteria-, fungus-, and viruls-fighting constituents of plants with ease, too. There’s a good reason why folks have been giving rosemary-infused vinegars as holiday presents for centuries. Rosemary, Garlic, Bay, and Thyme are just a few herbs that have long been infused into vinegars and used daily in cleaning, cooking and beverages to help humans digest well, boost our immune systems, and prevent illness. Happily, they’re just the beginning.
Which Vinegar Should I Use for Herbal Vinegar?
Today, we have a wide variety of potential vinegars to use in our cooking and cleaning. Apple Cider vinegar has enjoyed a ton of popularity for the past decade or so for it’s high pectin content and general health-boosting properties. It’s not the only vinegar available and certainly not the only one that makes good and tasty Herbal Vinegars. I’ve tride many different types, including Rice Wine Vinegar, Red Vinegar, Super-sour Kombucha, and even White Distilled Vinegar. I tend toward the Apple Cider vinegar only because it’s easy to get raw and unprocessed. Consider the medicinal properties of whatever vinegar you want to use as well as the flavor profile. I can tell you that a vinegar with a flavor you like is far more likely to be used than one you don’t enjoy so much. If you’re aiming to use it solely for cleaining, White Distilled Vinegar works quite well for infusing herbs like Lavender, Rosemary, Wormwood, and Bay.
Herbal Vinegar: Herbs to Try
The list of tasty herbal candidates for your next Herbal Vinegar is virtually endless, but here’s a good set of herbs to try. Each one will make a tasty addition to dressings and quick pickles. Many are also wonderful for use as hair or body washes, herbal baths or foot soaks, cleansers for the home and garden, and as the basis for oxymels or shrubs. You can use fresh or dried plant material. I generally tend toward fresh, especially when I like the armoatics of the herbs I’m using. The more plant material you use, the stronger your herbal vinegar will be. I like them strong myself. I can always dilute it befrore use but I can’t strengthen it at the last minute, so the stronger up front the better for my pantry.
- Bay leaf
- Lemon Balm or Lemon Verbena
- Douglas-fir or Pine
- Wormwood (for topical use or cleaning)
To Make Herbal Vinegar:
- Gather your herbs. If you’re using fresh herbs, chop or mince them as finely as you reasonably can. If you intend to use a blender or food processor in the next step, then chopping them roughly is good enough. If you’re using dried herbs, avoid using powdered. Opt instead for cut-and-sift or more whole plants that will be easier to strain out later.
- Measure out your vinegar. If you’re not using a blender of food processor, you can skip this step.
- Mix your herbs and vinegar either with a blender or food processor or by adding the herbs and then the vinegar to a glass jar with a plastic lid that fits tightly and shaking. If you’re using a blender or food processor, add both vinegar and herbs to it and blend until all the plant parts have been finely chopped then pour the lot into a glass jar with a tightly-fitting lid.
- Once you’ve mixed your herbs and vinegar in your glass jar, cover it with a plastic lid that fits tightly. If you must use a metal lid, such as with a canning jar that uses rings and metal lids, you can add a layer of plastic or waxed paper to the rim of the jar before capping it to prevent vinegar from coming into contact with the metal.
- Let the mixture stand on your counter for at least four weeks or up to a year, shaking as often as you remember to do in the first two weeks. If you’re looking for a very lightly flavored vinegar, you can let it stand for as little as a week.
- Once your vinegar has stood long enough, strain the plant parts out and enjoy!