A Vinegar a Day | 6 January | Oxymel

Use some of those hardy herbs sitting out the winter in your garden in this ancient remedy

It won't surprise you that we at the Artisan Vinegar Company think that good vinegar goes with pretty much anything. (Not vanilla ice cream, you say? Challenge accepted.) Thus, I've decided to write one vinegar recipe per day this week — just to show the myriad uses of this wonderful sour liquid. Enter Day 6.

Oxymel is an ancient functional food that, at its most basic, is a mixture of vinegar and honey — both of which have powerful antiseptic properties as well as containing various health-promoting compounds.

The name comes from Ancient Greek ὀξύς 'acid', and μέλι 'honey', via Latin. Indeed, both Hippocrates and Galen, the Ancient Greek forefathers of our medical system, used oxymel as a remedy for various ills.

Oxymel was popular across the ancient world and into the medieval period. The surviving medieval Persian pharmaceutical manuscripts describe around 1,200 types of sekanjabin, the Persian name for oxymel!

Whether or not oxymel is really a cure-all, it tastes nice, it will certainly soothe a sore throat, and it's very easy to make. I made mine with rosemary and sage for added interest and flavour. You could use any medicinal herbs you like: lavender, chamomile, lemon balm, and mint would all be delicious.

Ingredients

Method

Take a walnut-sized piece of ginger and slice it finely. Wash the herbs and chop them roughly. Pack into a cup-sized jar (such as a Bonne Maman jam jar).

Add the honey and vinegar and stir. Don't worry if the honey doesn't dissolve; it will over time. Ideally, you don't want much air space above your mixture, but it doesn't matter too much.

Screw on the lid and shake the jar a few times. Open it again and wipe the rim of the jar. Put a piece of parchment paper or a paper towel across the top, and screw on the lid over this.

Store in a cool dark place for a few weeks. Strain the herbs before using as a tincture on its own or in drinks.

The oxymel will keep for many months. It will keep best if stored in the fridge.

– Beatrix Swanson

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