Herbal Vinegars

Every winter at herb school, I share my love of trees with my students. Along with being majestic, trees function as the respiratory system for entire planet; they are essential for our every breath of life; plus they provide food, shelter, clothing, transportation (boats, vehicles, etc) and warmth through firewood. and, if that weren’t enough, they offer exceptional medicine for the treatment of coughs, colds, aches pains and healing wounds.

Since the age of 17 I’ve been appreciating the healing virtues of trees as medicine, especially those that are a member of my favourite family, the Pine Trees (pineaceae). Now a transplant to the west coast and still a lover of the pine family, I’m using what is abundant and in my very backyard, that is Douglas Fir (pseudtostuga spp.).

It’s medicinal uses are many.

The leaves (“needles”) can be chewed to soothe sore throats; brewed into tea for coughs, colds, sore throats; stomach pain from indigestion; arthritic joints; bladder infections; and an antiseptic mouthwash. That “pine-like” fragrance is due to those powerful essential oils that work as an anti bacterial, an anti fungal, and a general well rounded anti microbial. It’s particularly high in Vitamin C, giving it another lovely boost for immune support.

Doug Fir

My favourite way to use this tree medicine is as a medicinal vinegar. Vinegars excel at extracting vitamins and minerals. They are also great for those avoiding alcohol, perfect for children, elders, and are generally user friendly. Splash some on your salad, grains, veggies. You can also use fir vinegar as a hair rinse for dandruff, as a disinfectant for skin wounds, and use it as your daily vitamin C dose every morning in some water. Enjoy the bounty of this land.



1. With sharp scissors, chop, shred or slice your herb into a wide-mouthed mason jar 

2. Cover your herb with raw organic apple cider vinegar. Cover with a tight fitting lid. Vinegar can rust metal lids. I line my jars with wax paper to avoid this.

3. Label your vinegar including the name of your plant, the vinegar, date, and even the latin name (good practice).

4. Steep your herbal vinegar for 1-2 weeks. Your vinegar does not need to be refrigerated.

5. Then strain and separate the plant matter from the vinegar, strained through a cheesecloth or strainer, and store in a new bottle.

6. Compost the exhausted plant material.

7. Bottle and label your new vinegar.


Pour over steamed veggies to taste for improved mineral uptake; use it as a base for salad dressings; take a tsp or tbsp for a sore tummy and to ease digestion; splash some on a mild sunburn or steam burn; splash on your face as a toner (this is what our great grandparents did before the commercial stuff….The famous Queen of Hungary Waters were herbal vinegars); and use it in food anywhere vinegar is called for.

Questions? Comments? Please contact me through leaving a comment below.

Green Blessings & Enjoy!


  1. Tin Man on March 15, 2011 at 8:19 pm

    Does the Douglas Fir Herbal Vinegar contain similar constituents as the East Coast White Pine Bark?
    The TinMan

    • jcapranos on March 15, 2011 at 10:03 pm

      Yes, the constituents are definitely similar. However, the needles are higher in antioxidants and contain the wonderful anti microbial oils that we are made familar with through the pungent fragrance…I personally don’t vinegar the bark because I’m after the concentrated medicinal values that are richly stored in these fragrant green needles. There is a lot of media spun around the healing power of the bark…which is true….however, in my experience, I find the needles more powerful in their medicinal virtues, and heck they taste amazing!
      Also, for ethical reasons I am not interested in stripping tree bark. And, as I work with the seasons, spring is a time the energy is pushing out into creating new growth via the “leaves” (needles). There is so much vitality in these plant parts. I hope that helps! Happy harvesting!

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