At my home, we go through a lot of herbal vinegar. It’s amazing how much.
We recently ran out of our homemade herbal vinegar and started using the regular stuff. “What happened to the good stuff?” everyone chirped.
Our homemade brew is so popular that we use it not only to flavor salads but add to stir-frys, sauces, marinades, cooked vegetables and grains.
So twice a year, I make three to four gallons. It lasts indefinitely on the shelf and having it pre-made is handy.
The first and most important step is to start with good quality apple cider vinegar. Make sure to get the raw, unfiltered and preferably organic variety. At the very least it’s important to know that it comes from actual apples—some companies will color distilled white vinegar and call it apple cider vinegar. But the quality and the health benefits will be sorely lacking.
Science and folk wisdom alike attribute health benefits to apple cider vinegar, citing cures for everything from diabetes and weight loss to cholesterol and acne. At the very least apple cider vinegar contains natural minerals and aids digestion. It’s a good place to start.
Recipe for making 1 gallon of Herbal Vinegar
Start with two half-gallon jars.
Stuff one half full with garlic.
Stuff the other half full with fresh herbs.
Fill both to the top with raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar.
Cap and label.
Store in a cool, dark, dry place for six weeks.
After six weeks, strain both jars and combine them in a large crock.
Add honey to taste—at least one cup.
Rebottle and enjoy.
Garlic: Put the garlic into a food processor and process to small chunks. You can leave the skins right on the garlic–it will make no difference to the quality of the end product, as they will be strained out. If you want to peel the garlic, here’s a super fun way to do it, from Todd Coleman at the culinary magazine Saveur:
Herbs: Use anything culinary, aromatic, and preferably fresh. Any combination of oregano, basil, rosemary, thyme, tarragon, marjoram, etc. Try to get the leaves and the stem before the plant flowers. And you don’t even need to chop it up. Just harvest and stuff in the jar.
Spicy: If you like spicy vinegar feel free to add up to half a cup of dried red pepper flakes to one of the jars.
Lee Warren is a homesteader, herbalist, writer and the manager of Imani Farm, a pasture-based cooperative farm at Earthaven Ecovillage. She is also a co-founder of the Village Terraces CoHousing Neighborhood and the Program Coordinator for the Southeast Women’s Herbal Conference (sewisewomen.com).