Payne Mountain Farms
Buy dried yellowroot and other wild herbs at Payne Mountain Farms.

Using vinegar in the kitchen, the body, and the garden

Vinegars have been used for over 5000 years as a healthy flavor enhancer and food preserver. Vinegar helps the body digest heavy meals and high protein foods. The most nutritious vinegars contain beneficial bacteria and enzymes. They may look slightly cloudy or have settlement on the bottom of the bottle since they have not been heavily filtered.

Vinegar is a product of fermentation. This is a process in which sugars in food are broken down by bacteria and yeast. In the first stage of fermentation the sugars are turned into alcohol. If the alcohol is then allowed to ferment, it becomes vinegar. The word comes from the French, meaning "sour wine."

Vinegar should be in every kitchen. Whether brown rice vinegar, balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar, malt vinegar, white distilled vinegar, or another variety such as raspberry vinegar, this tangy, acidic liquid serves many purposes.

Real Balsamic vinegar is aged from 12 to 100 years. It is made from grapes, is dark in color, and has a sweet, rich flavor. Most grocery store brands sold in supermarkets are not true Balsamic vinegars (although they may be made from grapes).

Rice vinegar comes in white, red, and black varieties. It is popular in Asian cuisine.

Apple cider vinegar, as the name implies, is made from pulverized apples. It is often used in home remedies.

Vinegar may be substituted for lemon juice in recipes. In cooking, vinegar is most often used in sauces, salad dressings, and pickles.

In herbal medicine, vinegar is used to treat many conditions. It is especially useful when cooling sunburn. Apply diluted white vinegar to skin with spray bottle. A teaspoon of vinegar added to foods has been shown to reduce the glycemic index (when eating carbohydrates) and is useful in treating obesity. Vinegar is antibacterial, can be used to fight warts, helps stop body odor when used as a deodorant, makes an excellent hair rinse (resulting in shiny, manageable hair), and fights dandruff (add rosemary for scalp treatment).

Vinegar has been used to quench thirst, to stimulate the appetite, and to stop tumors from forming. Vinegar is not appropriate for long term use as it may cause potassium imbalances and calcium to leech from the bones. It can also burn the esophagus when swallowed.

Diluted vinegar is often used as a household cleanser. It removes mineral deposits (and grease) from coffee makers, appliances, bathtubs, and other smooth surfaces. It is used to clean windows and to polish brass or stainless steel. Just apply diluted vinegar to newspaper and rub until shiny.

Vinegar is also used to kill weeds. It makes a good herbicide but does not destroy the roots of perennials – it only kills top growth.

Most vinegar solutions do not exceed 5%. Stronger solutions of vinegar are available but they require careful handling (since vinegar is corrosive and damaging to the skin).

* Always consult with a healthcare professional before using any herbal remedy or supplement as a medicine especially if pregnant, nursing, or taking other medications.