Herbal extracts are everywhere, and with good reason: extracting herbs in alcohol is an easy and long-lasting to way to preserve their benefits. Of course, for a variety of reasons, not everyone wants to consume alcohol with their herbs. The world of herbalism is full of possibilities and variances, so naturally, there exists a slew of alternatives to alcohol. Agatha Noveille features some of these alternatives in this blog on the art of an alcohol-free apothecary.
One way to go is vinegar:
Vinegar can be substituted for alcohol when making an extract, and has always been a popular folk alternative to the more mainstream choice of alcohol. Any fruit based vinegar can be used, with apple cider vinegar perhaps being the most popular and easily available. Vinegar extracts usually have a shelf life of six months to a year, so plan to make them more frequently than an alcohol based tincture. Infused herbal vinegars, which focus on herbs for their flavor as well as their health uses, can be used as the base for vinaigrettes on a salad, a condiment when cooking, or even as the base of a “shrub”- a type of drink made with fruit juice and vinegar in water. And don’t forget the old herbalists standby for cold and flu season – no herbal medicine chest (alcohol free or otherwise) would be complete without fire cider!
There are endless plant-vinegar combinations you can use to make aromatic, tasty, and unique extracts. Learn more about how to make herbal vinegars from Donna Onacki in this blog post.
Head on over to Herbal Academy of New England for more ideas on how to extract your herbs, like syrups and "mock-tails."