Four Thieves Vinegar – A Cure For The Black Death

At Kitchen Takeover, we are lucky enough to have Julia Sich, author of Julia’s Edible Weeds as our resident CFO (Chief Foraging Officer). Working alongside our Head Chef Shane Yardley, she brings a unique twist to our menus foraging seasonal ingredients you have probably never tasted before.

This month, she has kindly shared with us her recipe for ‘Four Thieves Vinegar’ said to have offered protection from the dreaded Black Death – a welcome recipe for us all during Covid-19!

French Folklore tells the story of four thieves, one a herbalist, who would steal from the victims of the Bubonic plague. The thieves were said to have been protected by a secret potion which they drank and bathed with each day. When caught the thieves were offered freedom in exchange for their mystical cure which came to be known as ‘Four Thieves Vinegar’.

Julia’s version of the vinegar is below, but you can use a range of plants of your choice with antiseptic, antibacterial, anti-fungal, antiviral properties as follows: mint, lavender, sage, wormwood, rue, yarrow, rosemary, thyme, ginger root, lemon balm, plantain, nasturtium – leaves or seeds (green seeds are biting hot), cinnamon stick,hot peppers, peppercorns and garlic.

Four Thieves Vinegar Recipe

  • Organic apple cider vinegar to fill a jar
  • 2 tbsp sage
  • 2 tbsp lavender
  • 2 tbsp wormwood
  • 2 tbsp rue
  • 2 tbsp mint
  • 2 tbsp garlic – sliced
  1. Combine herbs (except the garlic) and steep in cider vinegar. if using dried herbs steep for three weeks. If using fresh herbs steep in vinegar for six weeks.
  2. Strain and re-bottle.
  3. Add the garlic, leave for three days and strain again.
  4. If the jar lid is not plastic, line with wax paper or plastic as vinegar corrodes metal lids.

Ways to Use Four Thieves Vinegar

  1. Illness or immune boosting – take one teaspoon in water every few hours if ill or one tablespoon per day for immunity boosting. Honey can be added for sweetness.
  2. Surface disinfectant – put strained vinegar in a spray bottle, spray on surfaces and wipe clean.
  3. Insect repellent – put 1/4 cup vinegar in a spray bottle and fill the rest with water. Spray on skin, clothes, etc.
  4. Foot soak for nail fungus – add ¼ cup vinegar to water bath and soak feet.

For a wealth of information about the power of plants, visit Julia’s website or attend one of her workshops.