Kitchen Medicine: Four Thieves Vinegar
There are so many wonderful cold and flu prevention remedies that have been passed down amongst herbalists for centuries. This is our personal variation of a recipe called Four Thieves Vinegar, an infusion of herbs in vinegar that has been around as an immune-supportive remedy since medieval times.
Four Thieves Vinegar was believed to provide protection from illness, and the garlic and the other herbs in this preparation are somewhat antimicrobial. There are almost as many variations in the recipe as there are legends surrounding its use.
Classically there are four key herbs in it – lavender, sage, mint, and rosemary or thyme. We prefer making it without the lavender because we’re not keen on the taste of lavender in salad dressing – which is one way we love to use this blend: using the herbs as both food and medicine. You can also put a tablespoon of the infused vinegar in a cup of hot water, with a spoon of honey, for an immune-boosting herbal tonic. Four Thieves vinegar can even be used as a throat-cleansing gargle! However, drinking vinegar everyday straight up, or even diluted in water, can be hard on your tooth enamel! We recommend brushing your teeth after using it.
Here's the recipe:
· ¼ cup each of fresh chopped peppermint, rosemary, thyme, and sage leaves
· 4 cloves of fresh garlic
· 2 cups of apple cider vinegar – organic is best
You’ll also need a glass jar with a lid. We like to use mason jars.
1. Strip the herbs from their stems and chop them on a cutting board. You don’t have to chop them too finely – just enough to release their aromatic scent.
2. Press or chop the garlic.
3. Place the chopped herbs into the jar and mash the garlic into it.
4. Add enough vinegar to cover the herbs fully, and put the lid on the jar.
5. Refrigerate or leave in a cool place for 5 to 7 days then strain the liquid into a clean glass jar. Discard the herbs and you've got your immune-boosting vinegar, which will last in the fridge for a month.
To make a salad dressing, mix 2 tablespoonfuls of the Four Thieves with 2 tablespoonfuls of plain apple cider vinegar and ¼ to ½ cup of olive oil (or tahini!), depending on how sharp you prefer your dressing. Add salt, black pepper, and optionally, 2 teaspoonfuls of raw honey. Mix well. Dress your salad or steamed greens with a delicious immune-enhancing herbal dressing.
N.B. If you're pregnant, omit the sage from this recipe; it can cause miscarriage. Pregnant or lactating women should not use this recipe as a tonic – just enjoy it occasionally as a salad dressing ingredient.