Updated: 1 day ago
Fire Cider is a traditional folk remedy with citrus, horseradish, herbs, spices, and apple cider vinegar. It’s a potent tonic that’s been used for generations as a remedy to boost the immune system, protect against colds and flu, and naturally ease sinus congestion.
In the past, I’ve been known for having a weakened immune system, every cold and flu season, I would get sick sometime in November and stay that way until May. But that has since changed with the introduction of plant medicine and preparations like Fire Cider and Honey-fermented garlic. Unfortunately, when I made our Fire Cider last year, my husband looked on in horror and asked, “Why do you hate me?” (He was not a fan of any medicine that didn’t come with cherry flavoring.) He stubbornly refused to take any. I, on the other hand, drank it religiously. In the end, he came home with a new cold every few weeks, and I only got sick once. He’s since become less stubborn about my “crazy potions.”
A Quick Disclaimer
Remember that just because something is “natural” does not always mean that it is safe for every person. When it comes to herbal medicine, there are many plants that should be avoided when pregnant or nursing, and some that can cause extreme interactions with prescription and over-the-counter medicine. Before using herbal preparations, always do your research, speak to a professional regarding any significant concerns, and never fail to seek medical advice when needed.
What Is Fire Cider?
Fire cider, the name is admittedly intimidating. This traditional tonic calls for seven basic ingredients: horseradish, ginger, garlic, lemons, cinnamon, onions, thyme, and hot peppers. These are steeped in apple cider vinegar for 3 to 4 weeks before being strained and finished with honey to balance the acidity. It’s remarkably easy to make at home, and it’s also easy to adjust to your tastes, preferences, and surroundings.
What Ingredients Go in Fire Cider?
The base recipe includes horseradish, ginger, garlic, lemons, cinnamon, onions, thyme, hot peppers, and apple cider vinegar. But there is no reason to stop there. Because this is a folk preparation, the ingredients can change from year to year depending on when you make it, what's growing around you, and what medicinals you may have foraged over the season.
Since we are located in Southwest Colorado, we have plenty of foraged Osha Root, Mullein, and Juniper berries, so we added those in with our other ingredients. Other foraged additions could include rose hips, sage, different types of bark, and pine needles. The sky is the limit here. You want to add ingredients that you enjoy and whose health benefits you are confident of.
How to Use Fire Cider
There are as many ways to use this tonic as there are to make it, but to get you started, here are a few ideas:
By the shot (about 1-2 Tablespoons) straight up.
As a mixer in warm water, juice, or apple cider.
Use it to make a delicious homemade salad dressing.
Use in Bloody Marys — alcoholic or not!
Drizzle over steamed veggies.
Use as a marinade for tofu, meat, etc.
Add to soup or chili.
How to Make Fire Cider
I’m calling my version “Wild Mountain” Fire Cider because we added a few items that can typically only be gotten by wild foraging. Primarily the Osha root (an immune booster and aid for coughs, pneumonia, colds, bronchitis, and the flu), Pine Needles (high in vitamin C as well as a natural expectorant and decongestant), Juniper berries (an anti-inflammatory antioxidant) and Mullein (a fuzzy plant with anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.) Depending on your location, these ingredients may not be available to you, but they can be purchased in our apothecary, or you can skip them and opt for a more traditional blend.
4” piece of fresh Horseradish, diced
4” piece of fresh Ginger root, diced (or 1 tbsp. dried)
3” piece of fresh Turmeric root, diced (or 1 tbsp. dried)
2” piece of dried Osha root (or 1 tbsp ground)
2 cinnamon sticks (or tbsp Cinnamon powder)
3 sprigs of fresh Thyme (could use 1 tbsp. dried)
1 tbsp dried Juniper Berries
1 small handful of fresh pine needles
2 tbsp dried Mullein
1/2 tsp. Crushed red chile
1 Tbsp. Black Peppercorns
2 Tbsp. of Dried Rosemary leaves
½ white Onion chopped
2 dried red Chile de Arbol (or 1 fresh jalapeno)
2 Lemons or Oranges, sliced (or a combination)
1 head of Garlic, peeled (could use 2 Tbsp. powdered)
organic apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup of raw, local honey, or to taste
Layer all the vegetables, fruits, herbs, and spices in a clean one-quart jar, then fill the jar with apple cider vinegar, leaving about ½ inch from the top.
Seal your cap tightly. If using a mason jar or other metal top jar, place a piece of cooking parchment or a small plastic bag between the ingredients and the lid to keep the lid from corroding.
Shake well and store in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.
Shake daily for 4 weeks or up to 6 weeks.
Using cheesecloth or a fine colander, strain and discard all plant materials from the vinegar. Transfer your Fire Cider to a clean jar.
Sweeten with honey to taste.
Fire Cider will store at room temperature for up to 6 months or in the refrigerator for up to one year.
Have you tried Fire Cider before? What is your favorite recipe or ingredient? Tell us all about it in the comments below! And, as always, until next time: