Enjoy the benefits of fire cider with this health tonic crafted from pungent roots, herbs and fruit combined with vinegar and honey to fortify and protect your immune system. Make a big batch of of this tonic made from easy to find ingredients and take charge of your health during the cold and flu season!
I am a trained herbalist with a degree in Complementary and Alternative Medicine, I am not, however, a doctor. Posts in this blog are for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Before using any herbs, check for appropriate dosage, drug interactions, and contraindications. Information contained herein is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prescribe. Please consult your primary care physician regarding your specific health concerns.
Fire Cider Benefits
The term “fire cider” might conjure up images of witches brewing a magical elixir of exotic spices and, perhaps, the tears of a dragon (or something). It might call to mind boozy apple juice. It might just leave you confused. But this intriguing term refers to a remarkable health tonic, full of herbs, roots, fruits and spices infused in apple cider vinegar, then sweetened with honey and sipped by those seeking a potent ally in the fight against the cold and flu.
Fire cider is the perfect example of food as medicine, and as such, I shared my favorite fire cider recipe in my new book, The Herbalist’s Healing Kitchen. This spicy tonic shows us that a valuable key to health is in our kitchen right now. Everyday food and culinary herbs, when chosen wisely can help us feel better. What makes more sense than pungent, fire-y roots and herbs when the first signs of a cold creep in. One of the finest benefits of fire cider is to help open our sinus and stimulate effective drainage!
“A traditional combination of horseradish, onion, garlic, citrus and peppers is boosted with fresh turmeric and black pepper, then infused into raw apple cider vinegar and sweetened with honey. This bold and punchy infusion can be dosed daily as a cold preventative or at the onset of congestion or runny nose. Or it can be used to dress salads, or splashed into braised greens or long-simmered stews to bring flavors alive.” – reprinted with permission. The Herbalist’s Healing Kitchen, by Devon Young, Page Street Publishing 2019
This pungent blend of spicy roots, citrus and fruits invigorates the immune system, stimulates salivary glands, promotes digestive “fire”, and offers an array of antioxidant and stimulating actions on the body. While the fire cider benefits are many, remember, all the remarkable health tonics in the world will not save you if you are not practicing good health habits. While I encourage you to enjoy the benefits of fire cider, eat right, drink lots of water, get fresh air and exercise, maintain hygiene and for the love of all things good – don’t smoke.
Much Ado About a Name
This fire cider term is also marred by controversy and legal battles – because even those in the holistic health and wellness product field are litigious, apparently. It is a traditional folk remedy passed through many, many generations, re-popularized by the pioneering and beloved herbalist Rosemary Gladstar several decades ago. Until recently, the term fire cider described this bright, fiery tonic of which’s recipe may vary from maker to maker to include their favorite and most revered immune boosting ingredients. That is until Shire City Herbals decided to trademark the term for their exclusive use, then issued cease and desist orders to other small commercial producers of traditional fire cider under the “Fire Cider” name. This is kind of the equivalent of Campbell’s trademarking the term “chicken noodle soup”.
Update: Since this post was originally published in 2015, the trademark infringement case went to court in 2019, and the term “fire cider” was deemed “generic” by a court of law, meaning that folks can make, write about, and sell fire cider without the risk of being sued for trademark infringement!
Fire Cider Ingredients
The ingredients are the base to the classic, traditions recipe and offer many of the immune stimulating, antimicrobial benefits of fire cider.
- Raw Apple Cider Vinegar: Full of probiotics, raw apple cider vinegar is a beneficial bacteria powerhouse, a fantastic preservative and the perfect menstruum (infusing liquid) for fire cider.
- Ginger: Stimulating, warming and antibacterial, ginger boosts tremendous health benefits. Ginger is also an excellent expectorant, balanced by antispasmodic and properties – helping to produce an effective, productive cough, without painful coughing fits. Ginger is also reputed to relieve pain and quell nausea.
- Horseradish: The sinus opening benefit of horseradish is undisputed, but this pungent root also in a powerful immune stimulant and, due to its high vitamin C content, is remarkable antioxidant.
- Garlic: Known as a “blood cleanser”, garlic boasts antimicrobial and antiseptic properties. A “cure-all” no matter how you look at it. And it repels vampires, which is a good thing.
- Onion: Loaded with sulfur, quercetin and a variety of vitamins and minerals, onion is a stellar immune booster encouraging peak performance of the body’s natural defenses.
- Orange: Vitamin C. Lots of it. (drops mic; leaves stage)
- Jalapeno Pepper: These peppers bring more of that sinus searing heat, along with a ton of vitamins and capsaicin to stimulate the immune system, relieve pain and speed cell recovery.
- Honey: Antimicrobial and preservative. And sweet. Very sweet. Which we will need – because this fire cider is going to be SPICY!
Herbal Additions to Consider
The addition can help increase the benefits of fire cider.
- Turmeric: Bright yellow and a chief inflammation reliever, turmeric also is an excellent detoxifier.
- Astragalus Root: This adaptogenic herb motivates to immune system of recognize and fight foreign microbes.
- Echinacea Root: This well known immune system heavyweight is associated with reduced cold and flu symptom duration.
- Rosemary: An extraordinary antioxidant, rosemary can offer cell protection and offer expectorant action to boot.
- Thyme: A bang up good herb, thyme is antibacterial, antiseptic, diaphoretic (encourages perspiration; reduces severity of fevers) expectorant, and stimulating.
- Back Pepper: This pungent everyday spice is well known to loosen one’s sinuses and has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits to boot.
Oh, and don’t throw away the spent pulp after infusing – you can reap the benefits of fire cider in foods! Freeze it in ice cube trays or dehydrate it, and add as a flavor base for soups, stew and sautés. Cheers to health, freedom and Fire Cider!!!
Want more? Try this Fire Cider Marc Egg Flower Soup recipe!
Nitty Gritty Fire Cider
- ½ cup ginger root grated
- ½ cup horseradish root grated
- 1 head garlic minced
- 1 medium onion finely chopped
- 1 jalapeno pepper sliced
- 1 orange slightly pureed in food processor or thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup fresh turmeric
- 4 cups raw apple cider vinegar or more to cover
- 2 tablespoons black peppercorns lightly crushed
- 1/2-1 cup raw honey to taste
- Place the ginger, horseradish, garlic, onion, jalapeño, orange, turmeric and peppercorns in a jar. Pour the vinegar over the ingredients to cover them.
- If using a metal lid, place a square of wax or parchment paper between the lid and jar. Secure the lid to the jar and infuse it in a dark, cool place, shaking daily for 4 to 6 weeks.
- After the infusion is complete (after 4 to 6 weeks), strain it and add the honey to taste. Bottle and store it in a cool, dark place or in the refrigerator. I bottle my fire cider in 16-ounce glass swingtop bottles, giving some as gifts