In the time of the Black Death in Europe, a band of thieves repeatedly pillaged the homes and graves of the plague’s victims. No one knew how the thieves were able to enter plagued homes and never fall ill. The situation was so desperate that when the thieves were caught, they were granted their freedom in exchange for their secret to avoiding the plague. Their secret, it is said, was the herbed vinegar now called Four Thieves Vinegar.
That’s one version of the story, at least. Similar to the folk story, which has many versions, the recipe for Four Thieves Vinegar is just as varied — seemingly no two recipes are the same. Joyfully, this means that it’s hard to go wrong when you’re making your own version of this delicious, and medicinal, vinegar. As a folk remedy, Four Thieves Vinegar is, as you may expect, excellent for staying healthy during cold and flu season, but it’s also great in salad dressings, as a condiment, or taken in a small glass of water as a before-meal aperitif.
To make this special vinegar, I steeped homegrown or foraged herbs in apple cider vinegar for a month then strained the vinegar. Simple as that! To make a few handy gifts out of it, I bottled the vinegar into 10 ounce woozy bottles, and decked them out with my very favorite label style, Elizabethan in saddle and gold, in the large oval shape and text label shape (sizes 07 and 05 text). I love how it looks like the character in the label is stealing vinegar!
- 1 quart apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons lavender flowers
- 2 tablespoons garden sage, minced
- 2 tablespoons rosemary, minced
- 2 tablespoons marjoram, minced
- 2 tablespoons mint, minced
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- Combine all ingredients in a jar, and cap tightly (optionally, use a layer of parchment paper to protect the metal lid) and let set for about a month—taste it to see if you like it after a few weeks!
- When you are happy with the flavor, strain out the herbs and bottle the now deliciously herbed vinegar.
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