For seed or spice vinegars, crush several tablespoons of the seeds or whole spice for every quart of vinegar, and then follow the same heat procedure as for herb vinegars. The infusion period for seeds or spices is 6 weeks, or longer.

For herbs, using either sun or heat method, after the infusion period, strain the vinegar through a fine mesh or cheesecloth several times, and pour into a clean, decorative glass bottle. Label and store away from the sunlight.

Most common (and available) in the United States, apple cider vinegar is regarded as a tonic because of its rich potassium content. The golden color and subtle apple scent makes it an excellent base for a summer fruit vinegar. But before making your herb, flower or fruit vinegar combinations, decide what you want to use it for. Oriental dishes blend well with rice-wine vinegar, using herbs such as lemongrass or gingerroot. Italian foods blend well with red wine vinegar, using herbs such as basil, hot peppers and oregano. Try these combinations:

* Rosemary, thyme, marjoram, lavender, savory in white wine vinegar, adds zest to tomato and garden salad dishes.
* Basil, dandelion, sage and dill – in red wine vinegar, for stir-fries and salads.
* Dill, lime, clove, and corriander in white wine vinegar, blends well in an hollandaise sauce.
* Nasturtium, in red wine vinegar, adds a peppery tang to pasta and cold meats.
* Violets, rose, carnation and citrus scented marigolds in rice vinegar, for tossed flower salads.
* Blueberries, cinnamon, nutmeg in white wine vinegar, can be used to zest up a tuna or fruit salad.
* Mint in white wine vinegar for cold meats, and fruit salads.
* Fennel in rice vinegar, to add an anise taste to fish or dipping bread.
* Borage flowers in white wine vinegar for salads. The flowers give the vinegar a subtle blue tint.

Medicinally, macerating fresh herbs or vegetables in raw vinegar instead of alcohol is primarily used for making treatments for young children. Always use unpasteurized, ‘live’ apple cider vinegar as this contributes to the healing properties of the formula. Macerated garlic, onions, horseradish and ginger make an excellent, sinus-opening medicine for flu and cold symptoms. Tinctures can also be made using vinegar as it contains acetic acid acting as a solvent and preservative. Always use apple cider vinegar for medicinal tinctures as it has in itself, excellent health-augmenting properties. Oxymel is another medicinal preparation that uses vinegar. Five parts honey to one part vinegar disguises the unpleasant taste of some bitter or acrid herbs which can by taken in the form of a syrup, gargle or made into lozenges.

Herbs suspended in vinegar are enchantingly colorful, aromatic to the senses, and another excellent way of preserving both cosmetic and medicinal herbs. Rosemary and thyme are great hair conditioning herbs. Rose, chamomile and violets are excellent skin toning herbs, so when in season, my favorite way to make cosmetic vinegars is to put the fresh herbs into a jar and cover with white wine vinegar. After labeling and dating, I place the glass jars high up in the kitchen windowsill, where the sun beams in nine hours of the day and leave for three weeks. After a deep sniff, I strain the vinegar through cheesecloth, add a few fresh leaves, then rebottle and place in my bathroom cabinet. Use daily after shampooing your hair or twice weekly after cleansing your skin.

For your delicate laundry, especially table linen, napkins and lace dollies use lavender and rose infused white wine vinegar as a diluted rinse water. For a tough, laundry bleach, add 1 cup of distilled white vinegar to your wash cycle, it really lifts heavy dirt and pungent odors (especially smelly socks!) too. For insect bites, use thyme leaves infused in apple cider vinegar. Thymol, a potent acid found in thyme is a powerful antiseptic. This infused vinegar also acts as a powerful insect repellent, so spray away. For gift ideas, strain the infused vinegar and funnel into decorative bottles adding a few sprigs of fresh leaves or a small bouquet of flowers. Old, tinted wine and spice bottles with corks are excellent for this purpose. So start experimenting. Line your herbal pantry with culinary, cosmetic and medicinal vinegars, today.

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