Fire Cider 101: The Basics of This Centuries-Old Homemade Cure
by Veronica Hinke
Fire ciders—potent herbal vinegar tonics made with powerful roots, vegetables and herbs like ginger, horseradish, turmeric, echinacea, rosemary, hot peppers, onions, garlic and more—can be a mid-winter immune system boost or a quick cure that we all need this time of year. It’s the season of sniffles and stuffed noses, but a growing group of herbalists believe that a good batch of fire cider can go a long way in improving health.
Fire ciders are based on a centuries-old approach to making health-boosting tonics. Some consider Rosemary Gladstar’s 2019 book Fire Cider! 101 Zesty Recipes for Health-Boosting Remedies Made with Apple Cider Vinegar a modern guide that broke ground again on creating ciders that can taste as good as they can build immunity. Gladstar is widely credited with creating the catchy name “fire cider”.
Recently, herb enthusiasts everywhere are stirring up all sorts of new recipes and approaches. Those that are sensitive to some of the strongest fire cider ingredients, like onions or hot peppers, can substitute ingredients that also promote better health, like citrus, berries or milder roots.
“The magic for me is how fire ciders can be made with ingredients from the farm and the forest,” says Petra Page-Mann, co-founder of Fruition Seeds (FruitionSeeds.com), who sometimes also infuses vitamin C-rich white pine needles and rosehips into her fire ciders.
She points out that fire ciders are as easy to make as they are nutritious. No measuring is necessary. Ingredients can be added according to preference. “For those who love ginger, go heavy on the ginger,” Page-Mann notes. “There are no set proportions; use what’s on hand. Fire ciders are super easy to make and really can’t be messed up.”
“Oranges and lemons add a nice twist to fire cider,” says Moonwise Herbs Founder Linda Conroy (MoonwiseHerbs.com). She also suggests considering adding antiviral ingredients like elderberries or echinacea root.
Popular fire cider recipes can easily be adapted to include favorite ingredients that are widely available. Consider adding jalapeno peppers, juniper berries or radishes to popular fire cider recipes.
After they’ve had time to sit and rest for at least one month, fire ciders can have a variety of uses. Conroy adds a splash of flavor-filled fire ciders to her homemade marinades, sauces and salad dressings. “They spice up the flavor and add immune-boosting qualities,” she explains. “Salad dressing is something I have not purchased in a very long time.”
Fire ciders can be consumed by the spoonful as often as desired. Enthusiasts suggest taking a quick spoonful once a week or once daily and increasing the amount when feeling rundown or ill.
Because fire cider is made with vinegar, if sealed well, it can be stored for a year or longer either in the refrigerator or in a pantry.
MOONWISE FIRE CIDER ELIXIR
3 cups raw apple cider vinegar (5% acidity)
1 large onion, diced
½ cup chopped fresh horseradish root
½ cup chopped fresh ginger root
10-12 cloves of fresh garlic, minced
1 handful each of fresh savory rosemary, thyme, oregano and/or fresh sage (1 or 2 Tbsp each, if using dried herbs)
¼ cup raw local honey
½ cup chopped fresh turmeric root (optional)
1/8 cup elderberries, chopped lemon balm, chopped elecampane and/or echinacea root. (This is optional, but will add healing qualities to this remedy.)
Citrus rind and/or slices, to taste
Place all of the vegetables and herbs in a clean, 1-quart canning jar.
Fill the jar ¾ of the way with apple cider vinegar (use a weight to keep ingredients under the vinegar if needed). Top off with honey, enough to cover.
Place a lid on the jar (either a plastic lid or put a piece of wax paper/plastic wrap between the lid and jar if the lid is metal); shake to combine ingredients.
Let sit in a dark cabinet for 3 to 4 weeks.
Strain out the herbs and solid ingredients and reserve the vinegar. Add more honey or vinegar if desired.
Store in a cool, dark place and take a Tbsp of fire cider daily during cold and flu season to ward off potential illness. If already sick, increase the dosage as needed.
Recipe courtesy of Linda Conroy.
FRUITION’S FIRE CIDER
Raw apple cider vinegar (enough to cover the other ingredients)
Ginger (leave the skin on if organic; add turmeric if desired)
Vitamin C (e.g.: citrus, rosehips, pine needles, etc.)
Chop or grate all of the ingredients and place as much of them as desired into a large, wide-mouth canning jar.
Pour the apple cider vinegar over the ingredients, ensuring that at least 1 half-inch of extra vinegar is on top.
Store at room temperature for at least 1 month. The flavors will deepen and intensify with more time.
After at least 1 month, strain and add honey. Store on the shelf or in the refrigerator.
Recipe courtesy of Petra Page-Mann.
Veronica Hinke is an author, speaker, journalist, coach and expert on early 20th-century drinking, dining and style. She is the author of The Last Night on the Titanic; Titanic: The Official Cookbook; and Harry Potter: Afternoon Tea Magic. Learn more at VeronicaHinke.com.