Four Thieves Vinegar

(I’ve had a bottle of this sitting for about 6 weeks, I’m going to strain out the herbs tomorrow.) Four Thieves Vinegar is a traditional recipe that supposedly dates back to the days of the Black Death, when its disinfecting/curative properties protected a quartet of Italian grave robbers from contracting the plague. In Hoodoo today it’s used for both crossing (especially if you’re trying to break up a couple) and protective purposes.

There is a million ways to make it, but there are 2 basic schools of thought: edible and inedible. A lot of recipes add inedible herbs and resins like rue and camphor. Me, I don’t see the point of vinegar you can’t drink, so I am firmly Team Edible. In addition to its spiritual purposes, you can use it for cooking or salad dressing–or you can feed it to someone you want to work on under the guise of cooking or salad dressing.

Red wine vinegar is the most traditional base, but you can use any kind you want, and apple cider vinegar is what’s used most often in the rural south. That’s what I use, because at least 5 generations of women in my family have cooked with apple cider vinegar. (I like Bragg, an unpasteurized, unfiltered vinegar that has a little bit of the mother in every bottle.)

Some people add dozens of ingredients to their vinegar, but the most basic formula is vinegar and 4 herbs (or garlic and 3 herbs)–one for each thief. I use garlic, sage, rosemary, and lavender. Stuff a bunch of everything in the bottle, pour in the vinegar, cover and put somewhere dark for at least 30 days, shaking daily. Strain out the herbs or leave them in, it’s up to you, and use as needed. (I strain them out, because the lavender tends to pour out with the vinegar if left in.) It’s delicious, and why anyone would make an inedible version is totally beyond me.


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