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Pucker up, baby

By Penny Stine

In my quest to grow something besides grass and weeds in the shade, I've been planting more herbs. Some people grow them just because they're pretty. I want to grow them and then do something with them. If that something involves tastiness, it's even better.

When you start doing herbal research, you end up reading about homegrown medicine, even if you really want information about savory seasonings. Turns out, herbal vinegars are supposed to cure or prevent everything from bubonic plague to high blood pressure. Who knew? I didn't.

Four thieves vinegar is one of those healthy vinegars, with various recipes that have been around for hundreds of years. Most include garlic and lavender, among other ingredients. Legend has it that in the middle ages, four thieves used to raid the homes of people who had recently died of the plague. The four thieves never got sick, and when they were caught, they said they'd reveal the recipe for their plague-prevention vinegar if they were released. Hence, the four thieves vinegar.

There are many recipes online and since I wasn't interested in warding off the plague, I tried one that I thought might taste good. As you can see, it looked pretty in the jars when I first made it back in July. You have to let it sit for several weeks and allow the herbs to infuse the vinegar with all their flavor, minerals and whatever mysterious elements ward off disease.
After eight weeks, I strained off the soggy herbs and put the vinegar in old wine bottles for use. I've been lazy, and have just used straight vinegar on cucumbers, as a marinade for shrimp and veggies and as a marinade for grilled chicken. I think it's all good, but my husband says its a bit overpowering and a little too vinegary.
Ha! We'll see who's overpowering the next time bubonic plague sweeps through the Grand Valley! 


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