Lydia is a student of herbalism and alternative healing modalities. She is a DIY enthusiast who is passionate about sustainable living.
What Are Drinking Vinegars?
We are all familiar with kombucha by now. Drinking vinegars are a similar concept. In fact, these gut-health-loving, fermented beverages are becoming quite trendy. I love drinking vinegars because they are a delicious way to consume my daily dose of apple cider vinegar.
The word vinegar comes from the French "vin aigre" which means sour wine. There are 3 essential types of vinegar beverages that are easy to prepare. They are called switchels, shrubs, and oxymels. You can make mocktails with them as an alternative for guests who do not want to consume alcohol at a party.
A shrub is made with fruit, vinegar, sugar, and herbs, an oxymel is a mixture of vinegar and honey used medicinally, and, finally, a switchel is a nourishing drink that incorporates molasses and ginger. Vinegar extracts minerals from herbs, so you can create marvelous infusions to use in drinking vinegar recipes.
Drinking vinegars have been part of natural health for thousands of years. Vinegar is safe to consume for the most part, although it can wear down your tooth enamel if you drink too much. The wonderful thing about putting your apple cider vinegar in these artisanal beverages is that it is less harsh on your teeth. In fact, in recent years apple cider vinegar has become popular as a cure-all.
Nourish by WebMD on Apple Cider Vinegar
- Apple Cider Vinegar: Benefits, Uses, Risks, and Dosage
Are there health benefits to apple cider vinegar? Learn the health benefits, uses, and risks of including apple cider vinegar in your diet.
Creating a Shrub
Shrubs were originally created as a way of preserving fresh fruit. The word shrub comes from the Arabic word "Sharbah" which translates as "drink". This drink was popular with sailors in the 16th to 18th centuries as a way of preventing scurvy!
You can add this type of vinegar concentrate to sparkling water for a relatively healthy artisanal beverage. Admittedly, it does have sugar in it. It is not quite as medicinal as switchel or an oxymel.
Shrubs are typically made with equal parts of fruit, sugar, and vinegar. They can be made hot or cold.
How to Make a Cold Shrub
To make a cold shrub you can mix the fruit and sugar together. Let this mixture sit in the refrigerator for a couple of days. After it has sat for a couple of days you can strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve. Try pushing as much juice out of the fruit as possible. The next step is to mix together the strained fruit mixture with the vinegar. Put it in an airtight container and let it sit in the refrigerator for a week before using it.
How to Make a Hot Shrub
A hot shrub is easier to make and has a mellower flavor. You simply put all the ingredients into a pot and let them boil. Then reduce the heat and let it simmer for 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Let it cool to room temperature. Strain and refrigerate until it is cold. It can be consumed immediately.
Strawberry Shrub Recipe
I am making a raspberry shrub for myself using the cold process. This Dandelion Strawberry Shrub recipe by Rosalee de la Foret looks heavenly. Shrubs are concentrated and are meant to be diluted in tonic water or club soda. They are great for making mocktails or even as part of an alcoholic beverage. You may find the sour taste very interesting.
Creating an Oxymel
You might know oxymels by another name. They are often called "honegar". An oxymel is an herbal preparation made with vinegar and honey. We can create immune system-boosting remedies at the end of the gardening season to get us through the winter. Gather or purchase herbs with medicinal value.
These remedies are nothing new. They were used way back in Ancient Greece and Persia. Honey is demulcent and has anti-bacterial properties. Vinegar is an astringent. Combining honey and vinegar can create an expectorant. When you make an oxymel you have control over the flavor. You can select herbs that you specifically like.
One of the most well-known oxymels is Fire Cider which was created by famous herbalist Rosemary Gladstar. I have worked with Rosemary Gladstar's book Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health and highly recommend it.
Before the oxymel is created the herbs should sit in the vinegar for a couple of months. Then you simply strain the vinegar and herbal mixture. Then you can add the honey. The ratio is 1 part of infused vinegar to 1 part honey.
Nourish by WebMD on Honey and Vinegar
- Are Honey and Vinegar Good for You? Pros and Cons, Nutrition Information, and More
Find out what the research says about mixing honey and vinegar, who should avoid it, and how it may affect your health.
Creating a Switchel
A switchel is a fast and easy drink vinegar to make. If you are new to making fermented foods this is an easy one to start with. It is a great way to stay hydrated while working out. Dehydration causes fatigue, irritability, and headaches. Having an inexpensive and unique beverage on hand can be a big help.
How to Make a Swtichel
It is inexpensive to make at home. All you need is 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, 1/2 cup of molasses, and a tablespoon of dried ginger powder. Simply mix these ingredients together and then combine them with a couple of liters of water.
The best way to make switchel is with raw apple cider that contains the mother. Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar is a reliable brand. This vinegar contains plenty of probiotics which is great for your gut health.
Traditionally this drink was made with powdered ginger as it is the easiest to have on hand. You can use fresh ginger root as well, you will just need to use more of it.
Health Benefits of Ginger
Ginger is warming bitter which has many health benefits. It boosts the immune system, promotes circulation and stimulates digestion. It can help improve the efficiency of herbal remedies by circulating the medicine through the body. Ginger also helps ease inflammation, which can cause indigestion and skin problems. Additionally, it can be a mild painkiller!
Switchel Recipe Variations
There are various ways you can tweak this recipe and make it your own. You can add lemon juice, a pinch of salt, or even use an herbal infusion of your choice instead of plain old water.
You can also make switchel using maple syrup and honey. Maple syrup has lower glycemic sugars compared to refined white sugar. Maple syrup also contains trace minerals and antioxidants that regular sugar doesn't have. Some prefer these flavors to the traditional molasses taste.
Nourish by WebMD on Blackstrap Molasses
- Blackstrap Molasses: Is It Good for You? Pros and Cons, Nutrition Information, and More
Find out what the research says about blackstrap molasses, who should avoid it, and how it may affect your health.
Trying Out Drinking Vinegars for Yourself!
Hopefully, these ideas will inspire you to create some healthy artisanal beverages of your own. Drinking vinegars are a terrific way of making use of any herbs you may grow in your garden. In my community garden, many of the gardeners are new to working with herbs. Herbs are so much fun to grow; it is great to figure out what to do with them!
Even if you don't have an herb garden it is great fun to come up with some alternatives. Drinking beverages like a switchel is obviously going to give us a boost since it is loaded with iron. Drinking it is a great alternative to taking an iron supplement if you have anemia.
I encourage everyone to experiment. The only limitation is your imagination!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.