In the springtime I love to gather up a basket, greet the sunshine, and pick fresh wild herbs and flowers to make a mineral-rich spring elixir. The gardens, fields, banks, and woods are filled with medicinal herbs during this time of the year. I call it an elixir because these high-mineral herbs and flowers are a great way to sneak some extra herbal medicine and nutrition into your springtime regime. When you add raw, probiotic-rich, apple cider vinegar to plants that are high in minerals—such as dark leafy greens—the acidity helps the body assimilate those minerals, in addition to all of the minerals packed into the herbs themselves.
Herbal infused vinegars are ancient forms of medicine that have been utilised over the ages, and for good reason. They take a steadfast place in both my home apothecary and my kitchen, as many plants that are traditionally prepared as herbal vinegars easily straddle medicinal and culinary use. These plant medicines store well and are incredibly easy to make and take daily.
Unpasteurised, raw apple cider vinegar is the best foundational ingredient for this medicinal-culinary preparation – it has many healthful benefits for the gut and beyond, and yields a tasty elixir time and time again – and is an awesome liberator of medicinal constituents, drawing out the beneficial plant extracts with ease.
What materials you’ll need
- Glass jar or bottle of appropriate size for your recipe with a non-reactive lid (or a metal lid lined with a piece of natural wax paper)
- Fresh herbs and flowers (see below for suggestions)
- Unpasteurised, raw apple cider vinegar*
- Labelling materials
- Straining cloth; either muslin cloth, tighter-weave cheesecloth, or cotton gauze fabric
- Flip-top glass bottle (or bottle with a cork) to store your finished vinegar
*I strongly recommend using an unpasteurised raw apple cider vinegar as the base for this recipe. Apple cider vinegar is naturally fermented and has a long list of health benefits; coupling it with fresh herbs and flowers is beneficial for gut health and a vibrant, zingy experience for the palate.
Mineral rich spring elixir herbs & flowers
We are spoilt for choice when it comes to making herbal vinegars, with so many combinations and medicinal blends possible. This recipe is a celebration of spring and an invitation to pick whatever is in bloom and bountiful, essentially submerging your medicinal plant material in apple cider vinegar to infuse the sustenance of spring in a bottle. This is not so much of a structured recipe, more of a wonderful practice in connection, communion and appreciation for the plant world. Therefore, I encourage you to gather whatever seasonal herbs speak to you the most in your area – whether that is to be found in your garden or on a local walk. I’ve listed a few of my favourite combinations below; you can combine them in any proportions you desire—just be sure to pick enough to loosely pack the size of your chosen glass jar.
- Violet, leaf and flowers (Viola spp.)
- Dandelion, leaf and flowers (Taraxacum officinale)
- Nettles, leaf (Urtica dioica)
- Cleavers, leaf and stem (Galium aparine)
- Chickweed, herb (Stellaria media)
- Plantain, leaf (Plantago spp.)
- Purple dead nettle, leaf and flowers (Lamium purpureum)
- Lemon balm, leaf (Melissa officinalis)
- Mint, leaf (Mentha sp.)
- Garlic mustard, leaf (Alliaria petiolata)
- Nasturtium leaf and flowers (Tropaeolum majus)
- Rosemary sprigs and flowers (Rosmarinus officinalis)
- Calendula, flowers (Calendula officinalis)
- Red clover, flowers (Trifolium pratense)
- Borage, flowers (Borago officinalis)
Please be sure of your identification before gathering any plants. If you are unsure, consult a field or foraging guide for plant identification.
If you are not familiar with any of these wild herbs and flowers, you can often source fresh dandelion greens from farmers markets or grocery stores, and include emerging herbs from your garden, like lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), rosemary (Rosmariunus officinalis) and calendula (Calendula officinalis).
How to prepare
- Wash your fresh herbs and flowers, chopping them coarsely, and combine them in a sterilised glass jar (choose any size based on how much elixir you’d like to make). Note that the proportions are not exact; the tighter you pack the herbs, the stronger flavoured the vinegar will be. I prefer to pack the jar around three quarters full with fresh herbs and flowers.
- Top the jar with raw apple cider vinegar, making sure you completely cover the herbs and flowers. It may be helpful to tamp them down with a sterilised kitchen instrument, such as a small wooden spoon.
- Seal with a non-reactive lid or a regular metal lid lined with natural wax paper, such as baking paper (to avoid corrosion by the vinegar).
- Label the jar with the name of the herb(s) and date.
- Give the jar a good shake and leave in a cool, dark cupboard for 2-6 weeks.
- The vinegar should have a herb-dense smell and an earthy pungency to it when it is ready.
- Shake to awaken the vinegar, and strain out the herbs and flowers through a muslin cloth. Be sure to press out all the vinegar when you strain by either wringing out the herbs in the cloth or pressing out the plant material with a press.
- Decant the strained vinegar into a sterilised bottle and seal with a non-reactive top.
- Label, noting the ingredients, recipe name and date made.
- Store in the refrigerator and use within six months to one year.
How to use
This mineral rich springtime elixir is a very easy way to prepare plant medicines for both medicinal and culinary use, using just one base ingredient – raw apple cider vinegar. It is truly lovely on your salad as a dressing, diluted in warm water as a daily morning tonic, as a marinade, or drizzled over roasted vegetables. It’s the perfect way to eat your mineral-rich spring herbs.
Continuing your plant path journey
If you are looking to build your connection and resonance with plant medicines and would like to learn how to harness the power of plants through the seasons, the 3 Sources Membership includes an ongoing and ever-expanding Herbarium of plant monographs to help you identify nourishing and edible plants and herbs in the wild, plus an apothecary of simple recipes you can make at home. Building a home apothecary is a mindful and empowering process that brings with it the assurance of purity of ingredients and plant-powered therapeutics.
Becoming your own mixologist and harnessing the power of plants to heal you from the inside out connects you to nature in a special way that brings the most rewarding outcome. Alchemy happens; and we become more attuned and realigned to nature’s way.
Safety & Contraindications: For the most part, the herbs mentioned in this resource are quite safe for general use. However, please research any new herb and consult your health care providers for possible drug/herb contraindications and precautions before ingesting.