by Sarah Latimer, Survival Blog:
I’m continuing my journey to consider some of the basics (beyond meat, eggs, dairy, grains, fruits, and vegetables) that I will want in my pantry in the event of TEOTWAWKI. Sure, if it is a matter of life and death, we will take what we have and make the most of it. However, like many others who have contributed to the wealth of information on SurvivalBlog, I am pursuing the idea of thriving rather than just surviving, and I know that knowledge and tools are far more valuable in a long-term crisis situation than having a finite supply of end product stored.
In considering what basics we use on almost a daily basis, there are quite a few that we will need to either be able to eventually produce on our homestead, find acceptable substitute for, or establish a local/regional source where we can purchase or trade to obtain them.
Last week, I took a look at baking soda, which has so many uses in the kitchen, around the house, and for health care purposes also. This week, I will look at a product that is sometimes used as a companion to baking soda, at least for cleaning. Today, I’m writing about vinegar.
Like baking soda, vinegar is used in cooking, cleaning, and also for health care and hygiene purposes. It is a true basic. Fortunately for me, I know this product and have a little bit of experience producing it. I look forward to the opportunity to become more knowledgeable about its production in the future, as I hone my homesteading skills. To date, my experience has been limited to apple cider vinegar and plum vinegar. (We’ll not mention the unintentional vinegars that I’ve produced with neglected juices.)
Interestingly, the word “vinegar” comes from the French words for “sour wine”, but there are many vinegars made from sources other than wine. Vinegar is made when fresh, naturally sweet cider (whether grape, apple, grain, or another juice) is fermented into an alcoholic beverage called hard cider. Then, it is fermented once again to produce vinegar. According to The Vinegar Book by Emily Thacker, apple cider vinegar contains more than thirty important nutrients, a dozen minerals, over half a dozen vitamins and essential amino acids, and several enzymes. It also provides a large dose of pectin for a healthy heart. In her book, Emily Thacker also shares an easy vinegar pie crust recipe and many other recipes and ideas, as well as some of the health benefits of using vinegar.
Cooking with Vinegar
In cooking, I use a variety of vinegars, which include:
white vinegar– made primarily from corn,
balsamic vinegar– made from grape pressings into syrup that is turned into vinegar under stringent conditions,
red wine vinegar– made from wine,
raw apple cider vinegar– made from apples,
Japanese rice vinegar- made from rice, and
homemade fruit vinegars– made from various fruits.
Many in our immediate and extended family enjoy Italian and vinaigrette salad dressings, and vinegar is a key component of these. We also use vinegar in pickling (which is a good means of preserving that garden produce), in barbecue, in making bone broths (which are so healthy and tasty), and in many recipes.
If you’ve followed my posts for awhile, you probably have a sense of our family’s fondness for homemade whole grain breads, as we have decided to adjust our diet to the fiber-rich diet we would need to follow in a TEOTWAWKI lifestyle now and enjoy the health (and taste) benefits of doing so. In fact, it is not uncommon to find young dandelion leaves and flowers as well as other “wild greens” in our spring salads along with our homemade breads and homegrown vegetables. As an accompaniment for our breads, we certainly enjoy our bread dips. One of our favorite dips contains balsamic vinegar. The basic recipe, which we adjust from time to time, based upon our spice and vegetable availability and preferences, is below:
Favorite Bread Dip Recipe
1/4 cup quality olive oil, divided
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp dried oregano, crushed
1 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
In small saute or non-stick skillet, heat one tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat; add freshly minced garlic and saute, stirring occasionally. When garlic begins to turn golden brown and slightly crispy, immediately remove from heat and pour into a small dipping dish.
To the dipping dish, add the remaining olive oil and other ingredients; stir gently and allow to sit for at least 30 minutes. (Dried, crushed sweet basil and/or finely diced fresh sweet red bell pepper or red onion may also be added, per your preferences; however, the addition of fresh ingredients, such as red bell pepper or onion require that it be served and utilized fairly promptly.)
Serve with fresh bread or bread sticks, or use as a spread on sandwiches or pizza.
Vinegar for Cleaning
Vinegar’s acidic properties (especially the acetic acid) pass into cell membranes to kill bacteria. One report in 2004 found that a mixture of equal parts of vinegar and lemon juice was even effective in reducing salmonella, though in this study it required a prolonged treatment of more than 30 minutes for maximum effect.
I keep a jug of vinegar under my sink for general cleaning. I haven’t found anything as good as vinegar for cleaning tea and coffee stains from pitchers, pots, mugs, and glasses, except possibly bleach, which I avoid pouring down our drains since we are on a septic system. Bleach kills vital septic organisms that keep our septic systems fluid and clearing properly. Protecting these organisms in a TEOTWAWKI situation will be more important than ever, as septic pumping services may not be available. Vinegar is septic friendly, and I don’t mind using it or breathing it. It’s cleaning benefits are further enhanced when the antibacterial properties and acid of vinegar are combined with the crystalline benefits of baking soda to produce a paste that scours mineral deposits.
A bit of vinegar poured onto cleaning sponges or cloths prevents odors and bacterial growth. I use vinegar water to wipe out my refrigerator and clean cutting boards.
It is also great in laundry to remove odors and to set colors dyed into fabrics. Anytime I buy a new bright or dark colored natural fiber clothing item or a piece of fabric, I first soak it in vinegar water and then launder it, for its first wash, in cold water to help set the dye and prevent future fading.
Vinegar for Health and Hygiene
Vinegar has been used for thousands of years as a medicine or antiseptic. As a weak acid, this home remedy delivers relief when you need it. In the year 400 B.C., Hippocrates– the father of medicine– used vinegar to treat his patients. So, this naturally occurring germ killer was one of the very first “modern” medicines.
Most of the remedies for health and hygiene point specifically to apple cider vinegar, and the raw, organic variety is the best. It is the “mother”, the unclear portion, that is beneficial. Clear, distilled vinegars have far less health/medicinal benefit. Even within apple cider vinegars and vinegar tablets, the amount of acetic acid in them ranges considerably, from the reports I read.
I have used apple cider vinegar on our family’s feet to manage odor and fungal infections and in arm pits and other sweaty areas for the same purpose. We have also used it as a gargle and to drink in warm water with honey for sore throats. It’s been used to cool sunburns and assist in reducing borderline cholesterol.
Even WebMD, an online presence that “provides valuable health information, tools for managing your health, and support to those who seek information” published an article about apple cider vinegar that quoted Carol Johnston, PhD, who directs Arizona State University’s nutrition program, as saying, “Apple cider vinegar’s anti-glycemic effect is very well documented.” The bulk of WebMD’s article generally applauds the benefits of apple cider vinegar for diabetics as one means to help them control blood sugar. Their overview of apple cider vinegar, states:
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