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Herbal vinegars from scratch?

 
pollinator
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So I started making my own vinegars, because I learned how easy it is from Rain Country channel, and now I am wondering -instead of using ready made vinegar to steep herbs in to make herbal vinegar tincture, why can't I just use herbs themselves and a bit of sugar to make them from scratch? Vinegar is made from plant material, filtered water, and sugar, so why not to use plant material or materials I want at once. Unless of course bacteria damages the healing properties in some way? Usually though it makes them more available, and in some cases make new vitamins such as vitamin K2 in natto, sauerkraut, and other ferments.
 What do you think? I am trying now with parsley.
 
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I'm not fond of using sugar and worry that it might reduce the efficiency of the herbs.  Would it work with honey?
I am asking because I would love to try too.
Good luck with your herbal medicine!
 
pollinator
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I think you will get a very different flavour since the herb itself is not fermented in the standard method of making it. Of course that flavour may be better, it's not something I have tried but it sounds interesting so let us know how it comes out!  As a little aside, do you or does anyone else know how to ensure homemade vinegar is a minimum of 5% ?
 
Joy Oasis
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I think you can buy ph strips to measure the ph or just add a bit more sugar after 1 month to make it stronger. hopefully that wouldn't make it too strong.
 
Skandi Rogers
pollinator
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Joy Oasis wrote:I think you can buy ph strips to measure the ph or just add a bit more sugar after 1 month to make it stronger. hopefully that wouldn't make it too strong.


pH strips won't tell you how strong the vinegar is unfortunately. I found a good website explaining how to do it, but it takes half a chemistry set. webpage I should have known this, I did do chemistry as a minor subject.
 
pollinator
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I don't have any experience with vinegar, but I do with kombucha which is similar.

In brewing kombucha you wait until after the primary fermentation to add any sort of flavorings. This is both because the flavorings have a negative affect on the scoby in the kombucha, and because the flavor will be significantly altered after fermentation.
I suspect most of the beneficial chemicals in herbs are volatile, so I wouldn't be surprised if they break down during the fermentation process. That's pure speculation though.

One option would be to brew your own vinegar, then add the herbs. Maybe this calls for an experiment, make two tinctures, one with the herbs added before fermentation and the other post fermentation
 
Daniel Gélin
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Some wonderful ideas for herbal vinegars are included on the following video. I haven't tried them though :-)
 
gardener
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I agree with Clayton, experience brewing beer and kombucha shows that the flavors change during fermentation. I also think experimentation is in order.
 
pollinator
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Ii tried to make mint vinegar once, in this way.  Well, I was trying to lacto ferment mint really.  It did ferment, but it didn't taste minty by the time it tasted sour.  

I make my own apple cider vinegar every year with wild/surplus apples--we usually pick way too many apples to store, dry, and process, so there is always plenty for vinegar.  It's really easy to make, though I've never tried adding herbs in the process:  I might just try it this autumn.
 
author
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Hi Joy, this is a really interesting topic. Thanks to the contributor who flagged up the supremevinegar.com website as it reveals there is a book available by Reginald Smith (2019) called 'Vinegar: the Eternal Condiment" which I have just ordered. As a medical herbalist in the UK I can say there is interest in using vinegars for medicinal purposes but usually based on infusion of plants in apple cider vinegar. For example see the Seed Sistas post on herbal spring vinegars at https://sensorysolutions.co.uk/2018/03/23/how-to-make-herbal-spring-vinegars/
For my own part I agree with other contributors that the fermentation process of making an alcoholic base and then the conversion of alcohol to acetic acid could affect the nature of plant constituents extracted. Much clinical experience of herbs is based on 100% water extracts (i.e. teas) or tinctures (usually 25–30% or more alcohol and water) and the latter provides a compromise which is stronger in active ingredients either soluble in water or alcohol, and also keeps well. Using a vinegar as a base for an infusion would, I think, give a result more comparable to a tea infusion. Excepting that vinegars, if well made, do offer a level of useful acidity and some trace nutrients which may be beneficial.
 
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Sounds like a fun project!

I am fortunate to know an amazing guy who does this very well. His name is Danny, and I've become friends with him through Instagram. Here is is his Instagram profile: @thatvinegarguy, and here is his website: www.wildvinegar.co.uk.

He's super-nice, very approachable, and always happy to answer a question about making vinegar. I am sure he has several books he could recommend. He specializes in turning foraged foods into wine and then vinegar, which he sells in micro-batches, but only within the UK. He also has a really interesting line of gummies, but they sell out so quickly that you need to watch closely. I am in the States, so I haven't tried any of his vinegars, but he's got a very committed following.

Good luck!
Karl

IG: @foodforestcardgame
Website: FoodForestCardGame.com
 
Joy Oasis
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 Wow! Thank you for all the info. So I made my parsley vinegar, and it tastes sour just like vinegar with interesting parsley derived taste. I drank it with water (just like ACV -tablespoon in a glass of water), and feel that it was beneficial at least like vinegar is. I left some out and it is not going bad. Anyway, I use it in my salads and if I feel I need a pick up I use in water.
 To see, if it works as tincture, I would need to use it for the pain or somehting substancial/easily defined. I am familiar with tinctures made with strong alcohol. However, most of alcohol is made with gmo ingredients, which I rather not mess with. Organic alcohol not just very expensive, but not locally available, which means shipping would add to already high price. I am going to experiment with homemade wine as well. Heidi from Rain Country experimented with her made wine for tinctures and said it worked well, but she needed 2-3 times more. She tested it for the pain tincture made with nasturtium leaves.
 
Joy Oasis
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Daniel Gélin wrote:I'm not fond of using sugar and worry that it might reduce the efficiency of the herbs.  Would it work with honey?
I am asking because I would love to try too.
Good luck with your herbal medicine!



Thank you. Honey would work very well as it would bring its own cultures. However good honey is expensive, and sugar will be changed, and there will be barely any left in the finished vinegar. I use organic sugar, and you do not need that much to begin with. If you would have access to inexpensive good honey I would make mead, and then use it to infuse herbs for tinctures.
 
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