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Herbal vinegars are a really easy way to infuse your favorite herbs into your everyday meals. In the herb world, we use the word menstruum to describe what is used to extract the constituents out of a plant — a fancier word for solvent. And there are many different solvents used to extract the medicinal properties from herbs. Some of the most common solvents or menstruums that you’ve likely heard of are water, alcohol, oil, honey, or glycerin. Another lesser-known yet powerful way to extract medicine from plants is via vinegar. Vinegar has been used in medicine making for thousands of years. Hippocrates, “The Father Of Medicine”, was said to have extracted medicine with vinegar and honey. 

Every solvent extracts constituents from plants in different ways. For example, water does a great job of extracting water-soluble constituents from plants like polysaccharides (which you’ll find in a lot of medicinal mushrooms). Vinegar on the other hand shines through and through for its ability to extract minerals from plants. The acetic acid found in vinegar works by breaking down the cell walls of plants and drawing out those minerals. Unlike alcohol extractions, vinegar extractions tend to have a shorter shelf-life so this is something to be conscious of when making infused vinegars. 

There are many reasons to explore making herbal medicine with vinegar. For one, if you’re sensitive to alcohol this is a great preparation route to take. Vinegar itself also has wide-ranging health benefits — making herbal vinegars a win, win preparation. 

The Power Of Vinegar

While you can use virtually any vinegar for herbal vinegars, the most popular one to use, which happens to be our favorite, is Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) due to its many health benefits. One of the most notable health benefits of ACV is its impact on metabolic health, specifically blood sugar. Taking about a tbsp of ACV before mealtime has been shown to reduce blood glucose spikes by anywhere from 8-30% due to the way acetic acid in vinegar impacts glucose uptake. 

This is why ACV is one of the main ingredients in our GlucBitters formula (launching on 02/02/23). GlucoBitters is a blood sugar and digestion supporting formula featuring bitter herbs like Gymnema and Bitter Melon that not only stimulate and support digestion but also work to support healthy blood sugar levels and reduce sugar cravings. This formula is extracted in ACV giving it that foundational blood-sugar support. Click here to learn more about this formula. 

ACV is also naturally antimicrobial which is why you may have heard that gargling with vinegar can help alleviate a sore throat. This makes vinegar an excellent solvent to use for an immune-stimulating medicine to reach for when you’re under the weather. A notable example is the famous “Four Thieves Vinegar” which was said to work wonders for warding off the Bubonic Plague in the 14th Century in Europe. The herbs used in this classic preparation included Sage, Cinnamon, Clove, Rosemary, and Thyme. 

Another stellar health benefit of ACV is that it is essentially a living food (if you’re using raw ACV that still has the “mother” in it.) The “mother” is the culture of beneficial bacteria that transform apple cider into vinegar — making ACV a great source of probiotics to support healthy gut flora. ACV has also been shown to support cardiovascular health. The list of ACV benefits is a long one!

Making Your Own Herbal Vinegar

Now that we’ve reviewed the many reasons why we love using vinegar in our herbal preparations, let’s dive into how to make your own herbal vinegar. Some really fun culinary ways to use your herbal vinegars are as an addition to salad dressings, broths, and beans — vinegar really adds that nice zing to any meal! When preparing herbal vinegars using the folk method, the best ratio of dried plant material to vinegar is roughly 1:7. You simply add the herbs that you’d like to work with into a glass jar and top them off with the vinegar. If you are using a metal lid, it’s best to use a layer of parchment or wax paper between the lid and the jar to avoid rusting. You’ll then let your vinegar infuse in a dark place for at least 3 weeks. Once you’re done infusing your herbs simply strain the vinegar, store in the container of your choice, and enjoy! 

This Mineral Vinegar recipe is inspired by Kami McBride and jam-packed with mineral-rich herbs like Red Clover and Oatstraw. Here’s how to prepare it: 

What you’ll need: 

  • ¾ cup fresh chopped Dandelion leaf⁠
  • ¾ cup fresh chopped Parsley ⁠
  • 2 tablespoons dried Oatstraw⁠
  • 3 tablespoons dried Calendula⁠
  • 2 tablespoons Red Clover⁠
  • 1 tablespoon dried Peppermint ⁠
  • 1 teaspoon chopped dried Burdock ⁠
  • 4 cups apple cider vinegar⁠

Preparation Method: 

  • Prepare the ingredients: chop fresh herbs as finely as possible, crush dried⁠
  • herbs or whole dried spices in a mortar and pestle, or finely chop dried fruit.⁠
  • Fill a glass jar with herbs⁠
  • Pour vinegar over the ingredients, filling the jar to the top with vinegar.⁠
  • If you are using a metal lid, cover the opening of the jar with two sheets of wax/⁠greaseproof paper, and then put the lid on, or use plastic lids.⁠
  • Store vinegar in a cool, dark place for one month. ⁠

Click here to see a video with the full step-by-step for this preparation. 

Enjoy!⁠

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