Sunday, February 6, 2011

Herbal Ally Challenge #5: Vinegars Part 1

Over the next few weeks, we are going to work with our ally directly again. Since most of us are under snow and don’t have the ability to harvest fresh plant parts, we will be working with dried parts. Later in the year when our allies are growing, we’ll harvest them and compare the difference between dried and fresh.
This week, we will be starting a vinegar infusion. Over the next few weeks, we’ll also be infusing our allies in oils and alcohol.
You don’t need to make a whole lot of each, a couple ounces will do. With the vinegar and oil you might want to make more if you will be using it for consumption. Make enough that you can experiment with it and compare it later in the season with freshly made versions. 
Herbal Vinegars
Herbal Vinegars are a great way to extract minerals from your ally. Once a preferred form of medicine making, Herbal vinegars have sadly fallen by the wayside, giving way to alcohol tinctures and glycerin tinctures. The famous Four Thieves Vinegar was an official medicine in many countries’ pharmacopoeias. This vinegar was an infusion of a variety of herbs including cinnamon, clove, garlic, nutmeg, rosemary, rue, peppermint, sage, wormwood, calamus and camphor. 
Herbal vinegars can be used for salad dressings, a tablespoon at a time for combating digestive ailments (1 tablespoon 20 minutes before a meal can help you avoid indigestion and heart burn), a hair rinse (great for relieving dandruff, removing the last of the shampoo in the hair and making the hair shiny) and more. They are an excellent tonic for the entire digestive tract and can assist your body to regulate its acid/alkaline balance. Externally, they can be applied to the skin as a fomentation to soothe irritated, burned, itching or feverish skin. They are typically added 1:3 with water (1 part vinegar to 3 parts water). 
Vinegars are sometimes mixed with alcohol to enhance the preservation qualities but for simplicity sake, we are going to focus on making pure acetum infusions. Later, we will discuss converting our vinegar infusions into oxymels. 
Assignment 1:
Read more about vinegars here:
Suggested Reading
If you are able to get ahold of these books, read more about Herbal Vinegars. Check with your library’s loan system as they are often easy to find.
Making Plant Medicine by Richo Cech, Chapter 6: Vinegar Extracts
The Herbal Medicine-Maker’s Handbook: A Home Manual by James Green, Chapter 15: Vinegar Infusion
Folk Medicine by D.C. Jarvis
Assignment 2:
Start a Vinegar with your ally. Again, if you are working with an ally that has several useable parts, make separate vinegars for each part. 
To make a vinegar, fill a jar about 1/5 full with your ally. If you have a grinder (a coffee grinder dedicated to herbs works great), grind the herbs and return them to the jar. Heat up your acv until hot but not boiling and pour over the herbs and let sit for about 3 weeks in a dark cabinet. You can strain off your plant material or leave it in. The plant material can be eaten as is, added to salad dressings or mixed in with beans or other foods.


NOTE: If you are using an unpasteurized and/or organic acv, you may want to skip the heat part so you don't kill the good bacteria in the vinegar. 
Assignment 3:
Write down your own thoughts about making a herbal vinegar out of your ally. List how you will most likely use your vinegar and what your vinegared ally will be useful for. 

4 comments:

Jamie said...

This is a great challenge. Our favorite vinegar to use is fire cider and self-heal. I've been wanting to try the Thieves Vinegar for some time. Hopefully we'll have the plants we need this year. Thank you for the reminder!

Sarah said...

oooh!! I missed the beginning of this challenge but I'm going to play along. I have made plenty of vinegars before, but I don't know that I have seperated out plant parts before. I'm currious to experient with my favorite gal plantain, and I'll see what happens with the seeds, VS the leaves.

Comfrey Cottages said...

I believe D.C. Jarvis was probably my first "medical" type book in my library, many, many moons ago!I would loved to have met him. Right then, herbal vinegar time:) xx

latisha said...

this is such a great challenge. you are an inspiration. i think i'll start now.

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