Homegrown Health: DIY Fire Cider

No one knows exactly when the first fire cider was actually brewed, but North American folk medicine dates it to around the early 1800s.  Traditionally, the brew includes hand-harvested roots and homemade vinegar, but modern conveniences make this a much easier process.  Most ingredients are available at your local health foods store or co-op, but feel free to include whatever you can find!

Fire Cider Basics

Fire Ciders are spicy, warming tonics designed to stave off the bitter cold of winter, and all of the health issues that arise during that time.  Most of the ingredients stimulate the circulatory system, which is helpful for the aching joints, cold fingers and toes, or slowed metabolism you might feel during this season.  In addition, the recipe is anti-microbial, giving your immune system and additional boost to stave off colds and flus, and the addition of horseradish is a major respiratory and sinus decongestant.

Making the Fire Cider

Ingredients:

  • 1 stalk horseradish root
  • 1 cluster ginger root
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp fresh or dried chilies/pepper (any variety)
  • 2 tbsp fresh or dried herbs of your choice: turmeric, rosemary, basil, thyme, peppermint, lavender, fennel, etc.

Additional supplies needed:

  • grater
  • mason jar with tightly-sealing plastic lid
  • 1 large bottle of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar, preferably with “the mother” included (we like Bragg’s ACV)
  • honey or liquid stevia, to taste
  1. Thoroughly wash and/or peel all of the ingredients, and grate or chop them into small pieces
  2. Place these into the mason jar as desired, leaving approximately one inch from the top of the jar free
  3. Slowly cover the herb mixture with apple cider vinegar, and be sure to include “the mother” in the mason jar, to spur along fermentation and greater extraction of the nutrients
  4. Be sure to keep the one-inch space from the top of the lid to allow for expansion within the jar
  5. Cover the mason jar with a plastic lid, or cover first with parchment or wax paper before covering with a metal lid, to prevent chelation of the metal by the vinegar
  6. Set in a cool, dry place for four week, shaking the jar every couple of days
  7. Once the cider has “brewed” for about one month, strain off the fiery liquid from the mason jar into a clean bottle, using cheese cloth to really squeeze the nutrients from the pulp
  8. Add honey or stevia as desired to cut the spiciness
  9. Store in a cool, dry place, or refrigerate for longevity

Drinking the Cider

Because this recipe is an all-purpose remedy, there is no wrong way to use it!  Some people like to drink cupfuls of it with vegetable juice, as sort of a virgin Bloody Mary, some add the strained pulp to soup bases or meatloaves.  Some people take it by the teaspoonful as a preventive measure during the winter, while some drink it by the quarter cup when they begin to feel the sniffles.  The uses for this folk medicine are truly endless!  We hope you enjoy making and using this traditional kitchen remedy, and would love your feedback.

Happy and healthy brewing!

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