The oldest folk-medicines are the kind easily prepared in your own kitchen... like Fire Cider!
What is Fire Cider?
It's an herbal vinegar that supports the immune system, healthy digestion, and circulation! It's old wise medicine taught most by herbalist Rosemary Gladstar. Fire Cider is usually made with a base of garlic and onions, horseradish, ginger, and chili peppers extracted into vinegar, but can be adapted to include additional herbs and seasonal ingredients.
What does it taste like?
Fiery! Hot! Pungent! Sour and sweet (with the help of a little honey)!
What's the magic behind this recipe?
Food is medicine.
Common ingredients can hold such powerful health benefits and really pack a punch.
Garlic is an antimicrobial and antiviral, acting against bacteria and viruses along the digestive tract and the respiratory system. Just like garlic, onion is part of the Allium genus, and shares similar properties. Horseradish is helpful for opening lung and nasal passages, loosening phlegm, and promotes perspiration (which is potentially helpful in breaking a fever). Chili peppers are anti-inflammatory, stimulate blood circulation and are antimicrobial, especially helpful in warding off colds. These herbs have been used traditionally, all over the world, to remedy cold and flu symptoms.
I like to add an adaptogen like astragalus (to help the body adapt to stress), turmeric to help reduce inflammation, ginger to promote blood circulation, citrus (like lemon and oranges), and rosemary. Honey (unpasteurized) is also antibacterial, and is added to the vinegar after the herbal extraction period.
How is it made?
For my 2017 batch of Fire Cider, I used:
-One large Onion
-An entire "hand" of Ginger
-A head of Garlic
-Sprigs of Rosemary
-One large Horseradish
-A handful of Turmeric
-Habaneros and Anaheim Chilis
-One Blood Orange and a Lemon
-1 qt. of Bragg's Raw Apple Cider Vinegar
and for good luck, a tablespoon of Cardamom Seed!
I put on some music (Faun Fables!) and start shredding the astragalus root, and slicing and chopping and grating mostly everything else. I cautiously slice through the horseradish because it can cause some irritation (depending on how fresh and strong it is). The turmeric can also stain your hands, so be aware!
I scoop everything into jars and fill to the top with vinegar (make sure all your herbs and vegetables are completely submerged). I top my jars with a bit of wax paper or cheese cloth to prevent the metal of the lid from having contact with the vinegar, seal the lid, give it a good shake, and then wait.
I set my jars in a cool dark place*, and every few days give them a shake.
*Some herbalists bury their Fire Cider in the earth.
This batch is almost ready.
Fire Cider is typically ready after about a month, but since I didn't chop my herbs as finely as I could have, I'm going to let it infuse just a little longer.
I'm planning on combining the contents of all three jars into one big batch. And then I'll strain it through a cheesecloth-lined mesh sieve, and store the finished product in amber-colored bottles.
Remember to date & label your containers!
How to use Fire Cider?
At the first signs of a cold, take a shot glass of Fire Cider every few hours. I like to stir in raw honey. Sometimes, I dilute it with water. I've really been enjoying a shot of fire cider with hot water -- it's so warming and soothing!
You can also take a couple of tablespoons a day as a preventative measure during the cold & flu season.
It's really a quite healthy immune tonic taken daily.
It's also good as a marinade and can be mixed with olive oil for a tasty salad dressing!
Gladstar, R. (2001). Herbal recipes for vibrant health. Adams, MA: Storey Publishing.
Hoffmann, D. (2003). Medical herbalism: the science and practice of herbal medicine. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press.
If you're a fan of Fire Cider, please support this tradition!
Buy from honest herbalists. Boycott Shire City Herbals.
Make your own! Share it with friends!