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Making healthy herbal vinegars

We are used to the idea of herbal and floral vinegars in cooking but their use as preventative medicine has largely been forgotten. In fact they are one of the earliest medicines – the vinegar itself is full of amino acids, vitamins and minerals and it also extracts these from any herbs and flowers you use. All through my 20s I suffered recurrent bouts of tonsillitis. Since beginning to take a shot of apple cider vinegar every time I felt my throat begin to tingle I haven’t had a single episode.

Here there are recipes for two kinds of herbal vinegar…

The first is a floral one which can be taken every day, the elderflower helps build immunity to colds and the rose is anti-inflammatory and also makes the vinegar a beautiful colour.

The second is a cold fighting one, full of warming and bug fighting things – possibly not as nice to taste, but much better than a cold!

You need:

  • Wide necked sterilised jar with a non-metallic lid. I find it is better to make small amounts of things before you work out whether you are going to use them up, rather than going into full production and ending up with things that don’t get used.
  • These instructions are for large jam jars/small Kilner jars. You can scale up or down the ingredients, as there is no need to be precise.
  • Weight of some kind (small saucer, washed stone) to keep everything under the liquid.
  • Apple cider vinegar – preferably unpasteurised.
  • Fresh or dried ingredients.
  • Sterilised bottle to decant into; label.

Elderflower and rose vinegar


  • 10 elderflower heads – all stem removed
  • Petals from 3 full red unsprayed roses
  • 500 ml apple cider vinegar (or as much fits in your jar)


Put the flowers in layers into your jar.

Pour in enough vinegar to cover.

Put a weight on top to keep the flowers under the liquid.

Put the lid on top – if your jar has a metal lid, use waxed paper/beeswax wrap and an elastic band instead.

Put in kitchen cupboard for 4-6 weeks (put note on calendar) check every no wand again that the flowers are under the vinegar.

Strain out the flowers with muslin.

Decant into bottle and label.

I keep mine in the fridge and use it for cooking as well as for medicine – if you don’t have a sweet tooth, it works well with fizzy water and some ice as a refreshing drink.

Cold busting hot vinegar


  • 2 red chillis split vertically
  • 2 cloves garlic sliced
  • 2 inches ginger grated
  • Rind from unwaxed lemon
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • I sliced onion (optional, as I find that adding in the
  • onions reduces the number of people who will drink this, as it then smells of onion)
  • 500 ml apple cider vinegar (or as much as will fit in your jar)


Layer up all the ingredients in your jar.

Pour in enough vinegar to cover.

Put a weight on top to make sure everything stays under the liquid.

Put lid on top – if your jar has a metal lid use waxed paper/beeswax wrap and an elastic band instead.

Put in kitchen cupboard or fridge for 4-6 weeks.

Strain through muslin and decant into bottle.

This can be mixed with honey as a cough medicine or drunk neat. A shot glass amount should be taken three times a day at first signs of a cold/sore throat.

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