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Herbal Vinegars: Aromatic Delights From Your Garden

Tuesday, April 17, 2018 10:03 AM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

HERBAL VINEGARS
AROMATIC DELIGHTS FROM YOUR GARDEN

Part one
by Susun S. Weed



Spring is in the air. Buds are swelling, sap is running, the night is alive with sounds after winter's long silence. It's too soon to plant anything in the garden; there's still deep frost in the ground. But the snow is gone and the weeds are green and my supply of herbal vinegars is low, so I'll spend the morning harvesting.

A pantry full of herbal vinegars is a constant delight. Preserving fresh herbs and roots in vinegar is an easy way to capture their nourishing goodness. It's easy, too. You don't even have to have an herb garden.

    Basic Herbal Vinegar
    Takes 5 minutes plus 6 weeks to prepare

    You will need:

  • glass or plastic jar of any size up to one quart/liter
  • plastic lid for jar or
  • waxed paper and a rubber band
  • fresh herbs, roots, weeds
  • one quart/liter apple cider vinegar


Fill any size jar with fresh-cut aromatic herbs. (See accompanying list for suggestions of herbs that extract particularly well in vinegar.) For best results and highest mineral content, be sure the jar is well filled with your chosen herb, not just a few springs, and be sure to cut the herbs or roots up into small pieces.




Pour room-temperature apple cider vinegar into the jar until it is full. Cover jar with a plastic screw-on lid, several layers of plastic or wax paper held on with a rubber band, or a cork. Vinegar disintegrates metal lids.


Label the jar with the name of the herb and the date. Put it some place away from direct sunlight, though it doesn't have to be in the dark, and someplace that isn't too hot, but not too cold either. A kitchen cupboard is fine, but choose one that you open a lot so you remember to use your vinegar, which will be ready in six weeks.


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Apple cider vinegar has been used as a health-giving agent for centuries. Hippocrates, father of medicine, is said to have used only two remedies: honey and vinegar. A small book on Vermont folk remedies--primary among them being apple cider vinegar--has sold over 5 million copies since its publication in the fifties. A current ad in a national health magazine states that vinegar can give me a longer, healthier, happier life. Among the many powers of vinegar: it lowers cholesterol, improves skin tone, moderates high blood pressure, prevents/counters osteoporosis, and improves metabolic functioning. Herbal vinegars are an unstoppable combination: the healing and nutritional properties of vinegar married to the aromatic and health-protective effects of green herbs (and a few wild roots).

Herbal vinegars don't taste like medicine. In fact, they taste so good I use them frequently. I pour a spoonful or more on beans and grains at dinner; I use them in salad dressings; I season stir-fry and soups with them. This regular use boosts the nutrient- level of my diet with very little effort and virtually no expense. Sometimes I drink my herbal vinegar in a glass of water in the morning, remembering the many older women who've told me that apple cider vinegar prevents and eases their arthritic pains. I aim to ingest a tablespoon or more of mineral-rich herbal vinegar daily. Not just because herbal vinegars taste great (they do!), but because they offer an easy way to keep my calcium levels high (and that's a real concern for a menopausal woman of fifty). Herbal vinegars are so rich in nutrients that I never need to take vitamin or mineral pills.

Why vinegar? Water does a poor job of extracting calcium from plants, but calcium and all minerals dissolve into vinegar very easily. You can see this for yourself. Submerge a bone in vinegar for six weeks. What happens? The bone becomes pliable and rubbery. Why? The vinegar extracted the minerals from the bone. (And now the vinegar is loaded with calcium and other bone-building minerals!)

After observing this trick its not unusual to fear that if you consume vinegar your bones will dissolve. But you'd have to take off your skin and sit in vinegar for weeks in order for that to happen! Adding vinegar to your food actually helps build bones because it frees up minerals from the vegetables you eat. Adding a splash of vinegar to cooked greens is a classic trick of old ladies who want to be spry and flexible when they're ancient old ladies. (Maybe your granny already taught you this?) In fact, a spoonful of vinegar on your broccoli or kale or dandelion greens increases the calcium you get by one-third.

All by itself, vinegar helps build bones; and when it's combined with mineral-rich herbs, vinegar is better than calcium pills. Some people worry that eating vinegar will contribute to an overgrowth of candida yeast in the intestines. My experience has led me to believe that herbal vinegars do just the opposite; perhaps because they're so mineral rich. Herbal vinegars are especially useful for anyone who can't (or doesn't want to) drink milk. A tablespoon of infused herbal vinegar has the same amount of calcium as a glass of milk.

So out the door I go, taking a basket and a pair of scissors, my warm vest and my gloves, to see what I can harvest for my bone-building vinegars. The first greens to greet me are the slender spires of garlic grass, or wild chives, common in any soil that hasn't been disturbed too frequently, such as the lawn, the part of the garden where the tiller doesn't go, the rhubarb patch, the asparagus bed, the coven of comfrey plants. This morning they're all offering me patches of oniony greens. Snip, snip, snip. The vinegar I'll make from these tender tops will contain not only minerals, but also allyls, special cancer-preventative compounds found in raw onions, garlic, and the like.

  

~ Part Two ~

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