Over the years, we’ve received questions about taking our DIY Four Thieves Oil Blend internally. The answer, in case you’re wondering, is no—we never recommend ingesting essential oils because they are highly concentrated. Those questions got us thinking though, and we’re excited to share a DIY Four Thieves vinegar formula that can be taken by the spoonful, added to water, or used in place of regular vinegars in a variety of recipes, including vinaigrettes, marinades, sauces, etc. Also, because it is a vinegar base, this delicious, versatile edible makes a very effective, fantastically-scented spray cleaner.
What is Four Thieves Vinegar?
In the 1825 edition of Pharmacologia (Corrected and Extended in Accordance with the London Pharmacopoeia of 1824, and with the Generally Advanced State of Chemical Science)—that’s a mouthful of a title!—renowned British physician John Ayrton Paris, wrote about "thieves vinegar," also called "Marseilles vinegar." He noted that its name and reputation as a prophylactic for contagions anecdotally arose from the confession of four thieves who had spent their time during the Plague of Marseilles (more than 100 years before the publication of Pharmacologia) robbing the dead. Somehow, despite the virulence of that particular bubonic plague, the thieves managed not to become ill, in spite of their regular exposure. “Upon being arrested,” said Dr. Paris, they “stated on condition of their lives being spared, that the use of Aromatic Vinegar had preserved them…”
Dr. Paris noted, however, that the origins of the Thieves Vinegar were actually older than the Plague of Marseilles. In fact, English Archbishop Thomas Wolsey regularly carried a sponge soaked in a vinegar “impregnated with various spices, in order to preserve himself from infection” as early as 1531.
The herbs that the thieves and Wolsey reportedly used to stave off infection* are the basis for our four thieves vinegar (and the similar four thieves essential oil blend), taking a classic remedy and transforming it into a delicious edible for modern times. Like other herb-infused vinegars, this formulation also makes an excellent base for DIY natural cleaning products, too!
Four Thieves Vinegar Recipe
Makes about 1 pint.
- 1 Tbsp. dried organic sage leaf
- 1 tsp. dried organic lavender flowers
- 1 tsp. dried organic rosemary leaf
- 1/2 tsp. dried organic thyme leaf
- 1/2 tsp. organic black peppercorns
- 16 oz. raw organic apple cider vinegar
- Place sage, lavender, rosemary, thyme, and peppercorns in a pint jar. Set aside.
- Gently, over low heat, warm apple cider vinegar to temperature of warm bath water, about 100 to 104° F. Don’t boil!
- Pour warm cider vinegar into the jar with the herbs. Fill to the top.
- Wipe any liquid off the rim and top with a tight-fitting plastic lid. Alternatively, place a piece of parchment paper under a metal canning lid and ring to keep the vinegar from touching the metal. Parchment paper with a rubber band to hold it tightly in place also works.
- Label and date.
- Store jar in a cool, dark place to extract for four weeks. Shake the jar every couple of days to assist in the extraction.
- Strain vinegar through fine mesh strainer, pressing down on the herbs to release as much vinegar as possible.
- Pour strained vinegar into glass storage jar or bottles. Remember to label and date!
- Store in cool, dark place until ready to use in vinaigrette.
- You can adjust the amount of herbs to your taste. The amounts above are good when using the Four Thieves Vinegar for a vinaigrette dressing. If you’re wanting an extra kick in the vinegar, you can increase the amount of each herb to 1 tablespoon.
- If you want to use fresh herbs, chop them up in similar proportions to the recipe above (3 parts sage; 1 part lavender and rosemary; 1/2 part thyme and peppercorns), and fill the jar half full of the herbs. Then fill the rest of the jar with vinegar, infuse for a month, and strain.
Four Thieves Vinaigrette Recipe
Turning this classic remedy into a delicious salad dressing is a perfect way to enjoy its benefits!
- 1 part four thieves vinegar (see above)
- 1 part organic extra virgin olive oil
- Prepared mustard of choice (easy recipe here!)
- Organic garlic cloves, crushed, to taste
- Fine sea salt and pepper, to taste
- In a blender or a glass jar with a lid, mix together 1 part vinegar, 1 parts olive oil, and 1/2 part mustard.
- Add crushed garlic, salt, and pepper to taste.
- Whirl the mixture together in the blender or shake vigorously in the capped glass jar until very well blended.
- Set aside to let flavors blend for a bit. Shake jar or whisk to reincorporate before serving.
Want to Enjoy This Traditional Remedy in Aromatherapy Form?
You may also be interested in:
- Craft Your Own Fire Cider
- How to Make Herbal Vinegar
- Herbal Honey & Vinegar: How to Make Herbal Oxymels
*DISCLAIMER: For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.