Category Archives: vinegar


water with lime | photo: o0o0xmods0o0o
Those of you who read my Facebook Fan Page know that I regularly remind people to start their day with an alkalizing drink.  This invariably brings up the questions, what is an alkalizing drink and why do I need to drink it?

Second question first. Our bodies do better when they are in a more alkaline state.  If you remember from high school biology, a pH of 7.0 is base or neutral.  We should be somewhere between 7.2-7.4 in order to be healthy.  When our bodies are in a more acidic state we can potentially be prone to illness.  Maintaining an acidic body state for a long period of time can cause a wide variety of illnesses such as headaches, inflammation, bloating, acne, and possibly even hair or nails that break easily.  Because the body seeks balance if it is too acidic it will pull minerals from our bones and from muscle tissue.  This is not an appropriate solution as eventually there can be a depletion of minerals.

Our modern diet is very acidic.  Especially if we eat a diet that is high in processed foods and animal products.  This makes it a good idea to include more more alkalizing foods which are primarily vegetables and most fruits (specifically those with less sugars).  In addition to making sure we add alkalizing foods to our diet it is often a good idea to start the day with an alkalizing drink.

So back to question number one…what is an alkalizing drink?  A glass of water with 1-2 tablespoons of lemon juice or raw apple cider vinegar is a great choice. Many people may have to work up to 2 tablespoons as it may be too tart if you are not used to it.  Adding greens powder to water or a morning smoothie is another way to get an alkalizing beverage into your day.  Another option would be to drink kombucha or water kefir, another great start to the day and one that has the added benefit of probiotics to further support gut health.

If you want to test to see whether your specific body state is more alkaline or more acidic you can purchase Ph Test Strips.  These strips test either urine or saliva (urine is generally considered to be a better indicator).  If you are interested in changing your diet you could also consider getting a copy of The Acid Alkaline Food Guide.

And to answer the unasked question.  “But vinegar and lemons are acidic so how can they be alkalizing?”  It’s one of the odd properties of acid-alkaline balance.  Yes, we do consider them to be acidic however their ash, or residue after they have been broken down, is alkaline.  That makes them an alkalizing food.  This alkalizing effect is also found with limes and grapefruits however not with oranges.

So start your day with an alkalizing beverage and drink to your health.



Raspberry Vinegar

Raspberries are coming in to season.  Their fragrant luscious aroma greets me every time I walk into the produce section of my local grocery store.  And their plump juicy red fruit temps me.  I love raspberries and truly miss the raspberry bed I had in Connecticut.  It was stocked with four different varieties each bearing at a different time pretty much ensuring a summer full of fresh flavorful berries.

Sadly the drought here in Texas has done a number to my fruit bushes.  The trees seem to be holding their own but the elderberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries and goji berries are all shriveled and I’m not sure they’re going to make it.

Raspberries are such a wonderful fruit because not only are they tasty, they’re so versatile.  They go great in fruit salads, eaten fresh, baked into scones or crumbles, on top of oatmeal, in a smoothie, the list goes on.  Plus a little as one half a cup provides 4 g. of fiber, over 25% of your daily value for vitamin C and just over 20% of your daily value for manganese. One of my favorite, extravagant ways to use raspberries is to make a raspberry vinegar.  This way I can enjoy that fragrant summer flavor all year long.

This is my favorite recipe using raspberries from Fancy Pantry which is one of my best-loved preserving cookbooks.

Red Raspberry Vinegar
  1. 8 C. raspberries, cleaned, rinsed and drained
  2. 3 C. white wine vinegar
  1. The recipe calls for the raspberries to be used in two portions.  You can freeze 4 C. for later.
  2. Crush 4 C. raspberries and place them in a sterilized, heatproof 2 quart jar
  3. Add vinegar and and cover the jar
  4. set the jar in a deep saucepan and fill with water to come halfway up the jar
  5. set over medium heat and bring the water to a boil
  6. Reduce the heat and keep the water simmering for 20 minutes
  7. Remove the jar and set aside, uncovered to cool the contents
  8. When cool, add a lid to the jar and set it aside
  9. Shake the jar every day for 2 weeks
  10. Strain the jar to remove old raspberries, it is okay to lightly press the berries to extract all the juice
  11. Crush 4 C. raspberries and pour infused vinegar over them
  12. Repeat the scalding as done above
  13. Let the vinegar rest for two weeks, shaking every day
  14. Strain the vinegar discarding the fruit, it is okay to lightly press the berries to extract all the juice
  15. Line a funnel with an unbleached coffee filter and place in a sterilized bottle
  16. Filter the vinegar into the bottle
  17. Cap or cork the bottle and store in a cool dark pantry
  1. The vinegar may develop sediment as it stands, this is okay but the vinegar can be re-filtered if you wish
The Ingredient Guru, Mira Dessy

Daikon Salad

This week there was Daikon Radish in the CSA share. Sometimes referred to as Oriental Radish, these tasty roots are very high in vitamin C and are also a good source of folate, potassium and magnesium. In addition to the roots, the leaves are edible and are also high in vitamin C as well as providing some calcium and iron.

Daikon can be eaten raw, stir-fried, steamed, or even added to soups. It has a definitive flavor that mellows with cooking. Many Oriental cultures pickle the root and eat it as a condiment.

One of my favorite ways to eat this delicious root is in an Oriental Salad. The tops of the root, the fatter part, tends to be milder in flavor so I use that when making this salad. The bottom of the root is great for pickling or stir-frying. I make this using the julienne blade on my cuisinart.

Daikon-Carrot Salad

1 C. julienned daikon root
1 C. julienned carrot
1 t. fresh grated ginger
1 T. rice wine vinegar
2 T. vegetable oil
1 t. sesame oil
1 t. tamari sauce
1 T. sesame seeds, toasted
2 t. ground nori (optional)

whisk together the vinegar, tamari sauce, sesame seeds, nori, and ginger.
slowly whisk in the oils
in a separate bowl toss together daikon and carrot
pour dressing over the vegetables and toss gently
marinate 30-45 minutes
can be served cold or at room temperature


photo courtesy of KoS |

Windows And Weeds

My friend Tracy asks, “I’m looking for a natural window cleaner as well as a natural weedkiller. Do you have any proven concoctions you would like to share? I’d love to give up the Windex and pulling weeds around the pool patio — well, let’s just say there must be a better way!!” There is a better way, and believe it or not you use the same thing for both (with some disclaimers).

Windows first. That good old standby vinegar and water works great. I use 1/4 C. white vinegar and 2 C. water in a spray bottle. Mirrors, glass and chrome come out streak-free and clean. There are a lot of wonderful household cleaners that you can easily make yourself with common ingredients. To get some good recipes visit Women’s Voices for the Earth. You’ll find recipes for all-purpose cleaner, drain opener, and more.

Weeds are a little more difficult. There was a study done by the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Horticulture that showed that vinegar (acetic acid) works well as a weed killer. But what worked the best was a 20% solution (the stuff we buy for home use is typically only 5%) which is not easy to purchase for household use. I have successfully used vinegar mixed with liquid soap and water as a weed killer but only in areas such as a brick path because the spray will affect almost any plant that it touches. A single application will kill the plant; the exception seems to be plants with fuzzy leaves, for some reason they are not as affected by the solution. Plants with thick roots, like dandelions, usually have regrowth, however multiple applications appear to weaken the plant and, in some cases, completely kill it. I use a formula of 1 part dish soap, 2 parts vinegar, 2 parts water. So for a small batch you would make up a solution of 1/2 C. dish soap, 1 C. vinegar and 1 C. water.

It’s a good thing to be able to use ingredients that do the job without relying on harsh chemicals that aren’t good for you or for the environment.

Vinegar For Your Health

Vinegar is an acidic liquid that is made by fermentation. It is used in many different cultures primarily as a condiment or to preserve other foods. Vinegar is made up of acetic acid; natural vinegars may also contain additional acids such as citric acid. In addition to the vinegars that we are most familiar with, distilled, apple cider, balsamic or various wine vinegars, there are other types that include coconut, date, beer, and honey.

Vinegar has been around for centuries and has a wide variety of uses both in the home as well as in the diet. In the home many people are familiar with vinegar as a glass cleaner. However it can also be used for things like removing oily stains from carpet (1 t. liquid detergent, 1 t. vinegar, 1 pint warm water), cleaning your coffee maker, deodorizing the dispos-all, and many more tips. You can find other household uses for vinegar here.

In terms of health benefits vinegar has a number of different uses. One of my favorites is to use it as a fruit and veggie wash; according to this article from NPR a solution of three parts water to one part vinegar removed 98% of the bacteria from the outside of the fruit being tested. For headaches a compress soaked in a 50/50 solution of warm water and vinegar is reputed to be helpful in reducing or clearing the pain. Vinegar also makes a great gargle for a sore throat (1 t. vinegar in 8 oz water) and is widely believed to be helpful in easing the pain of sunburn; simply spritz vinegar from a spray bottle on the sunburn, being careful not to spray on broken skin.

Frequently vinegars are enhanced by adding herbs to them. The healing effects of the herbs combine with the benefits of the vinegar, for example tarragon is noted for helping with digestion and vinegar, being high in acetic acid, helps the body to absorb minerals. There is also the use of hibiscus vinegar which may help with allergy symptoms. Edible hibiscus (and not all of them are) is very high in quercetin which has helpful properties for those dealing with allergies. You can learn more about hibiscus and hibiscus vinegars here.

If you live locally, in the Houston area, you can purchase some delicious hibiscus vinegars (and teas) from Village Botanica. If you don’t live locally you can purchase their products online. The direct link to the vinegars will be online for the summer season within the next week. If you do place an order, please mention my name, Mira Dessy, for a 10% discount on internet orders only.

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