Thursday, April 21, 2016

Make Your Own Medicinal Vinegars

I've been making lots of herbal vinegars as part of my welcoming in Spring routine. Last season I made just a few and went through them rather quickly. Using vinegar to extract and capture the healing properties of plants is probably one of the tastiest ways to enjoy plant medicine.

For this first round, I used organic apple cider vinegar and made one jar of herbal infused vinegar with borage leaves and flowers, another jar with common sage leaves and flowers along with some red sage flowers (salvia greggii) and one more with a combo of burdock root and ginger. The burdock and ginger root combo was inspired by this wonderful blog post, which is a really great read too. The intent was to make burdock pickles, but I also love how the vinegar will also be of great use and nutrient content once the pickled roots are consumed.

My plant selections for herbal vinegars are determined by desired medicinal and nutritional properties and of course, taste. I mostly use organic apple cider vinegar because of it's mild taste and versatility with flavors.

I like taking herbal vinegars as nutritional mineral supplements and have been looking into the mineral content of plants for this reason. "All green plants contain vitamins, minerals and trace elements from infinitesimal to plentiful proportions." - J. Meyer.

Here is a short list of plant sources and mineral content from The Herbalist by Joseph E. Meyer. I selected the less obvious ones like stinging nettle and burdock root.

  • Chamomile flowers
  • Plantain
  • Cleavers
  • Chives
  • Shepard's Purse
  • Mullein leaves
  • Strawberry leaves
  • Parsley
  • Black Willow bark
  • Carrot leaves
  • Mullein leaves, again
  • Parsley, again 
  • Primrose flowers
  • Walnut leaves
  • Primrose flowers, again
  • Borage leaves
  • Carrot leaves, again
  • Chamomile flowers, again
  • Parsley, again (also rich in vitamins A & C) I need to grow parsley!
  • Yarrow
  • Chickweed
  • Marigold flowers
  • Sorrel
To make your own herbal vinegar simply chop up your desired contents, then fill up a clean mason jar with your chopped herbs, roots, and/or whole flowers to the top and then fill with vinegar. Place parchment paper or cloth over your lid and close, cause metal and vinegar don't fix. Shake every now and then and let sit away from direct sunlight for 4-6 weeks. Strain and enjoy.

A variety of herbal infused vinegars are great for topical use. My borage infused vinegar is very cooling to the skin and with some added rose petals would make a most divine smelling and soothing facial toner, especially after long periods of sun exposure. If using topically be sure to dilute the infused vinegar before applying with natural mineral water. I suggest testing your skin sensitivity on your arm before using on facial skin. Vinegar can be harsh for some sensitive skin types and I wouldn't suggest daily use. Mainly for first aid conditions that require immediate relief and cleansing.

Add a little ceremony to the process, if that's your thing, and place intentions into your harvesting and crafting space while making your herbal infused vinegar. Let the cosmos and plants guide you in creating combos and blends. Pause, give thanks, ground & contemplate in stillness, flow, create, magick, healing. We are capturing the essence of new growth through mother earth, harness and open yourself to all that this medicine has to offer. Raise your frequency to meet the beauty fully.