Why Vinegar on the Oregon Trail?

One of the most frequently asked questions from guests is, "Why is vinegar on the supply list for traveling the Oregon Trail?"  

     Let's explore vinegar's history a little.  Vinegar is one of the oldest fermentation processes know to human kind.  From the Babylonians to the Aryans to the Phoenicians.  All these cultures created sour apple wine and when handed to the Greeks and Romans, they started developing apple cider vinegar.

     Historically apple cider vinegar was used frequently in the Civil War and World War 1 to treat wounds in the field.  It has been noted in history that the Samurai warriors used it for strength and power.  It has been used to preserve food for centuries.  Without the aid of modern refrigeration a lot of food was pickled to preserve it for future use.  

     Vinegar is antibacterial, anti fungal and  antiseptic.  It is great for eczema, sunburn and digestive issues.  When making herbal vinegar extracts the vinegar draws out the vitamins, minerals and healing properties of the herbs. So many pioneers took vinegar to clean and sanitize things as well as for wound care.

     Apple cider vinegar is very easy to make at home, or it can be purchased from the store.  Organic is best and if the vinegar has a "mother" in it even better!  What is a vinegar "mother"? It is a cloudy gelatinous form that grows in apple cider vinegar.  It contains beneficial bacteria, yeast and protein. We will do a whole blog post on how to make homemade apple cider vinegar.  

     To make a dried herbal vinegar extract you will need:

1-clean pint jar

15 parts dried herb (for example, 2 Tablespoons dried herb to a pint jar)

Organic Apple Cider Vinegar (Braggs is a common brand)

Place dried plant material in jar. Pour in enough vinegar to fill the jar to 1/2" from the top. Wipe away any liquid from the rim and place the jar lid on finger tight. Put in a cool dark place for between 2-4 weeks.  Shake daily for the first two weeks, then let sit.  

After four weeks, open jar, strain through a fine mesh strainer with a coffee filter inside the strainer.  Gently squeeze the plant material in the coffee filter to keep more of the herbal vinegar.  Date and label bottle.

Your herbal vinegar extract can be used to make salad dressings, marinades, sauces, or added to soups.  You can add honey to the herbal vinegar extract then add to warm water for great health benefits. It is best to use 1 tablespoon extract to 4 oz of water.

Ideas for vinegar extracts:

Most any fresh fruits (no frozen fruits as ice crystals dilute the vinegar and may introduce bactyeria)







The list of herbs is endless. Make your own fun mixes and matches!

Happy Trails!