Weedy Medicinal Vinegars
Anyone who knows me, knows how much I love weeds. I even intentionally plant dandelion and burdock in my garden. One of my favorite ways to utilize all of these spring weeds, such as chickweed, violets, dandelion, nettles, plantain, etc., is to infuse them in raw apple cider vinegar. Vinegar has the unique ability to extract or draw minerals and trace elements out of plants making it a perfect combination with mineral-rich herbs, especially spring/fall weeds. In fact, just adding vinegar to your cooked greens when you eat them will enhance the vitamins and minerals, particularly calcium, which your body will absorb from them. Thus, herbal vinegars can be an important part of building healthy bones and reducing osteoporosis. In addition, vinegar encourages your stomach to secrete more HCL acid, which aids in digestion. I recommend using organic apple cider vinegar, but wine, balsamic or rice vinegar will also work. Herbal vinegars can be used as the base for salad dressings or thrown into stir-frys. Get creative. Here’s how to make your own medicinal vinegar:
Step 1: Fill any size jar with freshly-harvested and coarsely-chopped herbs. For best results and highest mineral content, be sure the jar is well filled and the herb well-chopped. If using dried herbs, Herbalist, Richo Cech recommends a 1:7 ratio, dried herbs in oz: apple cider vinegar in oz.
Step 2: Pour room-temperature vinegar into the jar until it is full. Make sure to fill the jar all the way to the top with herbs and vinegar. Cover jar: A plastic screw-on lid, several layers of plastic or wax paper held on with a rubber band, or a cork are the best covers. Avoid metal lids—or protect them well with plastic—as vinegar will corrode them.
Step 3: Label the jar with the name of the herb and the date. Put it someplace 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. Strain out the herbs and enjoy!
The following are all high-mineral herbs that extract well in vinegar: Chickweed, Dandelion roots and leaves, Kale, Lamb’s quarter, Mints, Nettle, Plantain, Raspberry leaves, Red Clover, Violet leaves, and Burdock. Try combining some of these herbs together to make a “High Mineral, Bone-Building” vinegar!