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Four Thieves' Vinegar

Four Thieves' Vinegar

This is an excellent recipe for keeping winter colds and other infections at bay. The original story goes back to 18th century France, where four grave robbers were caught robbing the houses of plague victims. In return for their freedom, they gave the recipe of how they stayed free of infection. The recipe made it into the official pharmacopoeia, and is still sold today as Le vinaigre des quatre voleurs.

The essential ingredients are vinegar and garlic, and then you can add other aromatic herbs and spices as available: rosemary, sage, oregano, mint, thyme, lavender, cinnamon, ginger, star anise, black pepper, mustard seed, cloves etc. We usually add an onion, and horseradish or hot chillies.

It is worth making quite a big batch. Fill a jar with layers of garlic and whatever other herbs and spices you have on hand. Top up with cider vinegar, or whatever vinegar you want to use, to cover the herbs and spices.

The normal method is to seal the jar and put in a warm place for two or three weeks or longer, then strain and bottle for use. But for current usage, use the quick method: put your jar of vinegar and herbs in a pot of hot water, with the lid loose to let air out, and keep gently heated (don't boil the water bath, but a gentle simmer is OK) for an hour or so. Leave the jar in the pan of water until it cools. Leave the herbs in the jar, and just pour off a little of the vinegar as you need it. The bottle can be topped up with more vinegar. You can add honey or vegetable glycerine to taste.

Your thieves’ vinegar can be used several ways:

• take a teaspoonful several times a day, neat or in a little hot water

• add to salad dressings

• use a tablespoon in the bath

• use topically as an antiseptic on the skin

• use as a topical spray for disinfecting kitchen surfaces.

Posted 05 Mar 2020