Has ever a humble jar of vinegar created such a fuss? Enter … Fire Cider. Yes. It sounds like something your bootleggin’ great grandpa used to make out in his backwoods Tennessee still. It’s not moonshine, though, but a powerful health tonic. And one that has been the subject of outraged-fueled protests, claims of piracy and fraud, petitions, lawsuits, and a denial on Dr. Oz. You can read all the details here.
As far as I can tell, Rosemary Gladstar is the original creator of this concoction. She’s been sharing the recipe with her students at the California School of Herbal Studies since the early 80s. I’m content crediting her with the recipe, partly because it’s true and partly because the commercialism that sparked this great debate has, in my opinion, no place in the peaceful, hippy-ish, let’s-get-back-to-nature herb community.
Leaving the controversy aside, I can tell you that Dave and I are completely sold on Fire Cider. I made my first batch last spring, and after waiting impatiently for a month, we took our first sip. It’s spicy, hot, sweet and tart all at once. Dave chugs it right out of the jar (he’s cave-manish that way. He also breaks off cloves of garlic and chunks of ginger and chews them whole), but I’m more of a sipper. And I really love it mixed with a little olive oil and poured over salad.
Here’s the thing: a lot of eyes watch the herbal community, hoping to catch us diagnosing illnesses and offering cures. So there’s a whole list of words we try not to use, and the majority of us add disclaimers to every herb post. Here’s mine: I’m not a doctor; I’m not trying to diagnose you; I’m not offering a cure. But I don’t know that there’s a court anywhere who could object to me telling you my own experience.
Since starting our daily regiment of Fire Cider, plus having my own blend of sleepy tea at bedtime, and an occasional dropperful of echinacea, hawthorn or elderberry tincture, I haven’t been sick once. And this is odd for me, because for the last five years or so, I’ve had frequent colds, at last one bout of flu, and a delightful annual course of bronchitis. This year, nothing. (I also skipped the flu shot this year, which may have helped)
Fire Cider is an oxymel, which, in its simplest form, is a mixture of honey and vinegar used for medicinal purposes. In this recipe, we use apple cider vinegar, and the benefits of that are pretty universally known now. But when you look at the rest of the ingredients, and the cumulative benefits they provide, you can see how Fire Cider can be a potent tonic.
- Garlic — provides support to the immune system and opens the pores of the skin to help lessen a fever
- Ginger — eases nausea, warms the stomach, lessens congestion and helps support the immune system to fight off colds, chills and coughs
- Onions — warms the stomach, fights bacteria and increases circulation
- Horseradish — promotes perspiration, stimulates digestive function, and acts as an antibacterial
- Cayenne — aids in digestion, increases circulation and reduces inflammation.
- Honey — offers antibacterial, antioxidant and antifungal support
It’s a forgiving endeavor. The first time, I threw rough-cut ingredients in the jar, added vinegar and capped it. The results were effective and delicious. The second time, I chopped everything in my food processor for uniform pieces, added turmeric, warmed the vinegar, and added jalapeño at the beginning instead of cayenne at the end. The results were effective and delicious. I don’t think you can go wrong. Don’t you love recipes like that?
These are the basic ingredients, but you can also swap out the cayenne for another type of hot pepper, and/or add turmeric (provides anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant support) and echinacea (increases the number of white blood cells, which helps fight infection).
A potent herbal tonic that is both easy to make and delicious!
- 1 Large Onion Chopped
- 2 Heads Garlic Chopped
- 1 Large Horseradish root Peeled and chopped
- 2 Large Jalapenos Chopped
- Apple Cider Vinegar
In a quart-sized mason jar, add onion, garlic, horseradish root, and jalapeños (unless you opt to add cayenne at the end. If so, add to taste). Cover with apple cider vinegar and keep filling jar to top.
With a knife or skewer, stir ingredients to release any air bubbles. Cap and set in a sunny window.
Let steep for 4-8 weeks. Some people let it sit for up to six months, but I would never be able to wait that long. 🙂 Add honey and cayenne to taste, then store in refrigerator.
For immunity support: Whether you decide to take this year round or just start using at the beginning of Fall, you’ll want to begin with one tablespoon and work up to two. You can take this all in one shot, sip, or add to juice or a little water.
In recipes: You can substitute fire cider in any recipe that calls for vinegar. It’s also really delicious mixed with a little olive oil for salad dressing.
For wounds: It’s been said that a little fire cider on a rag is good to lay on bruises, but I haven’t tried that myself.