Herbal vinegars are a wonderful, healthful, and easy way of preserving herbs. The two primary reasons to use vinegars are to preserve fresh herbs that don’t retain their flavors/qualities as well after drying (as in the case of Thai basil, shown in the pictures, whose flavor is lost after drying) for flavorful culinary use later. The second reason—and somewhat more relevant to the focus of this blog—is for tincturing herbs when alcohol is not desired. This could be for a number of reasons. The person taking the tincture may have a sensitivity to alcohol, be a recovering alcoholic, or may be taking large enough doses where alcohol would not be a desirable menstruum. In any case, the acetic acid in vinegar acts as a solvent similar to alcohol
An added bonus of tincturing in vinegar is that vinegar is incredibly nutritious and beneficial in and of itself. And, as always of importance to me, it tastes good. You can take it straight by the dropperful, as with a tincture, or use as an herbal vinegar condiment, drizzling over salad or steamed veggies, mixing into gazpacho, etc. As a rule, never use chemical/synthetic vinegars for tincturing—apple cider vinegar is best, and of the varieties available commercially, I prefer Bragg’s.
The instructions for making vinegar tinctures are the same as those for making alcohol tincture—click here for the full instructions. Please note though that the proportions of herb used are different for dried versus fresh and root/seed versus leaf, so be sure to read all the directions.