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Celebrating Everyday Spirituality

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Celebrating Everyday Spirituality

Very Valuable Vinegar!

Do you have any vinegar in your house? If so, what kind is it? And what do you use it for? Over the years I have grown to appreciate vinegar and all the amazing things it can do for us—not only in our food preparation but also as a less expensive and more eco-friendly household cleaner. So today, let’s take a closer look at this fascinating human-made commodity. First, a definition: vinegar is a liquid composed mainly of acetic acid and water. The acetic acid is produced through the process of fermentation.

The word “vinegar” comes from the French vin aigre which literally means sour wine. How long has vinegar been around? The first documented use of vinegar comes to us from the Babylonians in about 5,000 B.C. Traces of vinegar have also been found in some of the urns of the ancient Egyptians. Called the poor man’s wine, vinegar was routinely carried by Roman soldiers as they marched along conquering the world. And we Christians remember how scripture says that the Roman soldiers offered Jesus vinegar (their wine) as he hung dying on the cross.

Vinegar can be made from a variety of things. From fruit such as apples, figs, pears, prunes, dates, strawberries and other berries. It can be made from vegetables such as potatoes, cucumbers, beetroots, and tomatoes. (I know, I know, technically tomatoes are fruits…) Vinegar can also be made from herbs such as thyme, oregano, basil, sage, garlic, mint. The most popular vinegar in the United States is cider vinegar made from apples. Consumers in the American south use more white distilled vinegar than any other region in the country. If you’re interested, you could visit the International Vinegar Museum in Roslyn, South Dakota. Roslyn even hosts an annual Vinegar Festival in June. You missed this year’s, but you can put it on your calendar for 2022.

Vinegar has a variety of industrial, medicinal, agricultural, culinary, and cleaning purposes. Discoveries during the Industrial Revolution enabled commercial vinegars to be produced more quickly. But even today, high quality vinegars (such as those made in Italy) continue to use a slow process of fermentation, aging the vinegar for years in wooden barrels.

What are some of the uses of vinegar? Some of the following uses have studies to back them up. Others not so much. Reader beware. Vinegar can be used:

+ To soothe a sore throat. Just mix together apple cider vinegar, water, and honey. (Many years ago, our switchboard operator, Sister Mary St. Mark Florence, always drank such a concoction and tried to get us, her young switchboard-operator-trainees, to drink it too. She swore it kept her voice clear and strong—and it prevented sore throats. I never tested her theory.)

+ To help regulate blood glucose levels.

+ To treat jellyfish stings and sunburn.

+ To get rid of dandruff. Simply massage a teaspoon of vinegar onto your scalp, rinse, and wash with regular shampoo.

+ To clean wooden cutting boards and butcher block counters.

+ To wash windows.

+ To clean coffee machines. (I regularly run water with a little bit of vinegar through the small coffee maker in my bedroom).

There’s a certain magical power associated with vinegar. Most school kids know if you mix vinegar and baking soda you can create your very own do-it-yourself erupting volcano. Pearls will melt in vinegar, and egg shells will get very soft. Supposedly, if you put an open dish of vinegar in a room it will absorb paint smells.

Let me end this reflection on vinegar with two recipes for cleaning solutions made with vinegar:

Basic cleaner: mix 3 parts water with 1 part distilled white vinegar or apple cider vinegar.

Disinfectant: 1 part lemon juice, l part vinegar, 2 parts water. Put in a spray bottle. Replace nozzle and shake. Spray on the surfaces you wish to disinfect—especially in the kitchen and bathroom. “They” claim this solution can kill 99% of bacteria.

For more recipes for vinegar cleaning solutions, just go to WikiHOW vinegar solutions.

Did you learn anything new in this reflection?

Do you use vinegar? If so, how do you use it?

Can you think of any other ordinary thing you have hanging around your house that’s really pretty amazing? (Not including people, of course!)


The video today has little (if anything) to do with vinegar… Rather, it is a song to comfort those mourning the loss of a loved one. I chose this song because this pandemic has caused millions of individuals to lose their loved ones. The actual number of deaths world-wide is impossible to know. The wide-spread grief is impossible to fathom… So when I heard this song recently on my local Cleveland Christian music station (The Fish at 95.5 FM), I knew I had to share it with you. It’s called “Scars in Heaven” and it’s a new song by Casting Crowns, the same group that produced last week’s song. I dedicate this song to all of you who may be missing a loved one—whether that loved one passed away from Covid or from some other cause… and whether they died recently or years ago. I know when I’m missing someone special to me, I find myself saying some of the same words in this song: “If only I had known the last time would be the last time… What I’d give for one more day with you…” I hope this gentle and faith-filled song brings you (or someone you know) comfort and strength…

I invite you to respond to this blog and/or to this song below. We all love to hear from our readers like you!

24 Responses

  1. Good morning, Sr. Melannie…
    Good morning, all…

    You know your blog, Sr. Melannie, functions in many ways: It feeds our hearts and souls spiritually; it introduces us to really great books; it supplies us with an abundance of quotes; AND it makes us all better conversationalists! I will never think about vinegar the same way again! My wife has been using vinegar as a cleaning agent for the past few years, and we have always used it to make our salad dressings, but who knew we’ve had this “utility player” sitting in our cabinets for all these years? I found it illuminating that the Roman soldiers carried “sour wine” with them, and that their offering some to Jesus may been an actual act of compassion, not contempt.

    Have a blessed week!

  2. Jersey tomatoes are in season right now. A slice of tomato, topped with mozzarella cheese, fresh basil, and a sprinkle of balsamic vinegar. Sooooo yummy!

  3. Trying to avoid toxic chemicals in my yard, I discovered an amazing weed killer:
    1 Quart Vinegar
    2 Cups Epsom Salt
    1/4 Cup Dawn
    Heat vinegar, add salt and stir with whisk till dissolved.
    Add Dawn to sprayer and SLOWLY pour in vinegar mixture after it has cooled a bit. Pour slowly to avoid a lot of suds. Spray during hottest part of the day and before rain forecast at least 24-48
    I use in my rock garden, driveway, and bricked patio.

  4. Sister Melannie, My brother Jim has been anointed and is dying. I needed to hear these words from Casting Crowns. Thank you.

  5. Good morning S. Melannie and all,

    This brought back the memories of our weekly window washing with vinegar and drying with old newspapers, because it was believed that newsprint made the windows really shine and no streaks, when I was growing up.

    I’ve always had vinegar in my cupboards just in case…

    Thank you for the memories…..I’ve been thinking of my mother a lot lately, perhaps because every time I glance in the mirror, I look more and more like her.

    I didn’t always appreciate my mother, as she deserved, but the olderr I get the more I do.

    Peace and love on the Monday morning,

  6. Once a month my mother would unbraid my hair, brush it, wash it with me bent over the bathroom sink, and then rinse it with vinegar. If it was summer, she sat me outside in the sun for it to dry, and then she would brush it, and braid it. I remember a bit of resistance on my part because this was way before “no more tears” shampoo, but decades later I find this a very loving act, and I can still smell the vinegar.

    1. I was sitting looking at the ocean listening to this song. All those family and friends who have died came to mind. Those who I miss so very much. I remember when my Mom was dying and I sat by her bed for over three weeks. A very wise friend said to me “let everything go. Just be with her, because when she passes you will wish for one more day.” That touched my heart as did this song. Thank you!

  7. I didn’t know vinegar had so many uses! Thank you and others for the recipes.
    I used to clean my windows with vinegar and wiped them with newspaper. (I don’t do much window washing anymore!) I also use it in slaw.
    It was interesting to learn that the Roman soldiers may have been compassionate when they offered Jesus sour wine. So often we judge others actions by our own definitions.

  8. This past weekend my high school classmates and I celebrated our 61st anniversary. We were perhaps 33 or so present from Colorado, Fla., New Jersey and New York as well as Ohio.. We were 88 at graduation. We had a prayer service and lit vigil lights in memory for about 30 of our deceased members. So many memories were shared. This song by casting crowns added to those memories shared.
    Sr. Judith Anne

  9. I am a long-time user of vinegar, but I thank you for couple of new uses….

    BUT, I really thank you for the Casting Crowns song– I am mourning the loss of my dear Jane– we had been married for 62 years up to her return to the Father September 2, 2020.

    The lyrics are so beautiful and timely– they help my journey in grief.
    I am indebted to you.

  10. Thank you so much for the information in Vinegar. And for the beautiful song.
    We use a ‘dollop’ of vinegar in the dishwasher just before washing. It eliminates the need for a rinse agent. Just add it to the bottom of the washer.
    Also I rinse my berries in a combination of water and vinegar before refrigerating them— no mold occurs.

  11. Hi Melannie,
    Thanks so much for the practical uses of vinegar. A few of our sisters add vinegar to the washing machine. It enhances the rinse and eliminates the use of more expensive fabric softener .
    The song is so beautiful. I lost my sister to Coved last April so it brought tears to my eyes.
    Thanks for always knowing how to touch our hearts .
    God continue to give you wisdom and insights! Love and prayers. Josita

  12. I can vouch for one of the uses. One time when my family went to the beach, my mom and I were coming out of the water a little above our knees when, all of a sudden she cried out and her knee buckled. I caught her arm and helped her out. There was a little curved red line swelling on the side of her knee. We called the hospital ER (this was before the internet) to find out what to do. It was quite painful for her. They said to use vinegar and heat, not ice like we would’ve thought. I had brought a heating pad and we luckily found some vinegar in the rental cottage. It took a few hours but the pain subsided. We were all glad it didn’t sting the rest of us, especially my 2 1/2 year old nephew! We saw some jellyfish washed up on the beach later.

    I also clean with vinegar all the time.
    Thanks for the blog and the song!

  13. Dear Melannie,
    Recalling that the Resurrected Jesus still bore the scars of his passion, it seems very appropriate that one who suffered in this life would be comforted in the next by the scars of Christ. A beautiful image!

    Regarding vinegar, my years in Chardon, the center of Ohio’s maple sugar industry, prompted me to investigate maple vinegar, produced by The Maple Guild of Island Pond, Vermont, and available at Walmart. I have found it to be a wonderful way to bring out the flavor of any number of vegetables and to perk up soups. I highly recommend it.

  14. WOW!!!! What a great reflection and song! My brother John is very sick and could be in heaven shortly. What a comfort that song is…thank you!

  15. Your vinegar tips were timely. I will try the one where you put vinegar in an open dish to get rid of paint smell. My husband is just finishing painting in the basement. About every six months I wash my towels using good amount of baking soda in the detergent dispenser area and vinegar in the softener area. Wash on warm. Dry them with wool drying balls. The towels are clean, absorbent and fluffy. We also use the vinegar in the coffee maker every few months. Keeps the scale down.

  16. One more use for vinegar, my mom would put it on a really bad sunburn to “take the sting out”. I think it worked!! I too use vinegar in my rinse cycle. It rinses out excess detergent. Beautiful song! I remember Sr. M. St. Mark fondly, as we would always hear her voice when calling from the boarding school!

  17. Enjoy your blog as always, thank you! Another great use for apple cider vinegar is in a little dish on the counter with a small drop of dish soap mixed in. It traps and kills those pesky fruit flies that are so prevalent when I have fresh produce on the counter in the summer!

  18. What a coincidence! Last week I visited an industrial vinegar-production plant located in Fremont, OH. They make huge batches of vinegar on a 24×7 basis … the fermentation is accomplished via microbes. These microbes are so sensitive to temperature that should the plant loose heat or cooling (depending on the time of year) for even a minute, all the microbes die and the entire batch is ruined.

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Meet Sr. Melannie

Hi and welcome to my blog! I’m Sister Melannie, a Sister of Notre Dame residing in Chardon, Ohio, USA. I’ve been very lucky! I was raised in a loving family on a small farm in northeast Ohio. I also entered the SNDs right after high school. Over the years, my ministries have included high school and college teaching, novice director, congregational leadership, spiritual direction, retreat facilitating, and writing. I hope you enjoy “Sunflower Seeds” and will consider subscribing below. I’d love to have you in our “sunflower community.” Thank you!

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