Links contained in this post and elsewhere on my website may include affiliate links. When you make a purchase through these links, I earn a commission at no additional cost to you. I only link to products and services that I love - and that I think you will love, too!

 Most people are familiar with the little bottles of alcohol-based herbal extracts available at health food stores. However, herbs can also be extracted or infused in vinegar. Vinegar is a traditional carrier for herbs that has several excellent uses for the modern herbalist, and it even has several points that trump alcohol extracts altogether. Herbal vinegar projects are also very easy to make and use at home.

Making herbal vinegar projects at home

Making an herbal vinegar is as simple as placing dried herbs in a jar with some vinegar. The herbs soak in the vinegar for a week or two. Then the vinegar is strained and bottled. The Herbal Academy has a great article with more detailed instructions. (#affiliate)

Actually, even the vinegar is easy to make at home. Vinegar is just fruit juice and some good bacteria. When certain kinds of bacteria take up residence in the juice, fermentation happens and the juice becomes vinegar. The bacterial culture sets up house as a gummy little disc referred to as a colony or “The Mother.” (I’m not making this up. Promise.) The mother is used to start the next batch of juice. . . and the next one. . .  and the next one. Which makes vinegar a very sustainable choice for herbal recipes.

Read on for the ways to use herbal vinegars and some recipes!

Using herbal vinegars

How do you use herbal vinegars? Why do I like to have them on hand? They are versatile! Depending on the herbs, they can:

  • make topical liniments for sore muscles
  • create soothing preparations for skin problems like sunburns and poison oak
  • make extracts to support health challenges
  • add zest to meals as a condiment
  • create bitters blends to support healthy digestion
  • blend sweet and sour into oxymels and shrubs (types of  yummy vinegar-based drinks) 

Vinegar is an inexpensive ingredient, so it’s easy to experiment and come up with your own blends. I recommend taking a good herbal course or finding a few good books if you are completely new to herbalism. Having guidance when you are starting out helps you safely explore the traditions of herbalism! Experimenting with herbs as flavoring for infused vinegars is one thing. However, creating herbal blends to support wellness takes a little more finesse.


Recipes to explore

Curious to find some herbal vinegar recipes? Here are some from other herbalists!


My recipe for violet oxymel

The picture above is my recipe for violet oxymel. Here’s the link to the recipe! It’s based on vinegar made from fresh violets. In the winter, I like to use it as a tonic because violets are really wonderful as a gentle expectorant and alterative. In the summer, I use it after a run or work out. A spoonful mixed in water is a great thirst-quencher and cool-down drink. 

Interested in more herbal options sans-alcohol? Check out my article on alcohol free herbs for the home apothecary. If, on the other hand, herbal fermentation intrigues you, the Herbal Academy has a course you’ll love! The Craft of Herbal Fermentation will teach you how to make herbal kombucha, beers, mead, and even lacto-fermented pickles.

The Craft of Herbal Fermentation Course by Herbal Academy
Agatha Noveille

Agatha Noveille

Agatha is an herbalist and author in Atlanta, Georgia. She founded Indie Herbalist in 2011. Her herbal recipe book, The Complete Guide to Adaptogens, is available wherever books are sold. To listen to her podcast, visit Indie Herbalist's sister site, Teacup Alchemy.
Previous post Understanding an herbal approach to fever
Next post Spring growth in my herbal garden