I remember the first time I heard about Fire Cider about six years ago in my herbalist friend's NYC apartment - my eyes teared up while chopping all of the ingredients. I was intrigued and slightly scared...I mean, vinegar + horseradish as a tonic? That's intense! But over the years I've come to absolutely love Fire Cider - as a daily immune tonic in the winter months or as a early-treatment for cold or flu. And, I've found my favorite way to enjoy it that even my kids can handle!
Read on to learn how to make this spicy herbal "medicine" and how to integrate into your families health routine.
For starters, Fire Cider is made from Apple Cider Vinegar - which has been proven to have a host of benefits to the system. In order to take advantage of these, you need to be sure to choose a Raw and Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar (sometimes advertised as "with the mother"). Apple Cider Vinegar boasts:
- High Acetic Acid content, helpful for reflux or other digestive complaints
- Live with Probiotics, good for digestion and healing 'leaky gut'
- Helps You Feel Full, facilitating weight loss and resolving abdominal bloat
- Regulates/Lowers Blood Sugar, especially in Type 2 Diabetes
- Contains Antioxidants for Cardiovascular Health, Reducing Blood Pressure and LDL Cholesterol
- Sour Taste, Regulates and Detoxifies Liver
There is good reason to enjoy Apple Cider Vinegar as a regular part of your nutritional health routine, but when you add the ingredients of Fire Cider it packs a potent additional punch of benefits:
- Horseradish - An expectorant (clearing mucus congestion from the body), mild antibiotic, warming digestive tonic, diuretic and promotes perspiration (good for fever).
- Garlic - Anti-viral, anti-bacterial AND anti-microbial...an important component in fighting viral or bacterial infections. Also helps vent fevers.
- Ginger - Digestive tonic, warming, dissolves congestion
- Cayanne or Jalapeno - Hot peppers stimulate digestive enzymes and "gastric juices", warm the body, vent fevers and reduce inflammation
- Turmeric - Anti-inflammatory and high in anti-oxidants to fight free-radical damage
- Raw Honey - Nourishes the Respiratory System, soothes irritated mucus membranes, anti-microbial and boosts allergy resistance (if using local honey)
How to Enjoy
In a pinch, I'll take a teaspoon of Fire Cider and just shoot it back - especially if I'm running late or trying to get in a few doses to combat a cold or flu. But, this isn't for the faint of heart (or taste)! It's incredibly pungent, sour and spicy. As a regular tonic, I prefer to take it first think in the morning - it revs up digestion and totally clears the sinuses!
Lately, I've been adding a teaspoon of Fire Cider to a mug of warm water as a way to start the day before breakfast. It's delightfully mild compared to 'straight up,' and I can sip it while I get breakfast prepared. I'll give it to my kids in cool water or apple cider/juice when they are fighting something, which helps tame the flavors even more (you can always add a pinch more honey to theirs too).
You can also use Fire Cider as you would any other vinegar - making it a great addition to salads, vegetable side dishes or instant pickles.
How to Make
There are many ways to make Fire Cider, but the traditional components are Horseradish, Garlic, Cayenne and Ginger. Depending on what I have in the house, or if I'm trying to incorporate other herbs for specific properties, I'll adjust my recipe a bit. Below is a staple one I like, based off of one of my favorite herbal sites Mountain Rose...use organic ingredients, if possible.
- 2 Jalapeno Peppers, chopped
- Zest & Juice from 1 Lemon
- 2 Sprigs Fresh Rosemary (for added antioxidants)
- 1 tsp. Dried Fennel Seeds (for added digestive support)
- 2 Star Anis (for flavor)
- 5 Cloves (for flavor, also warming)
- 1 tsp Black peppercorns (for warming lower abdomen & help with absorption of other herbs)
- 10 Garlic Cloves, peeled and chopped
- 1 Medium Onion, peeled and chopped
- 1/4 Cup fresh Turmeric, peeled and grated
- 1/2 Cup fresh Ginger, peeled and grated
- 1/2 Cup fresh Horseradish Root, peeled and grated
- 3-4 Cups Raw, Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar
+ 1 tsp Dried Cayenne Pepper & Raw Honey (to Taste) - both after straining
- In the order listed above, place all the ingredients into a clean quart-sized mason jar - this keeps the heavier items on top which act as a "weight" to keep contents under the vinegar, preventing spoilage.
- Pour Apple Cider Vinegar into the jar until full and all ingredients are completely submerged.
- Place plastic lid (prevents corrosion) on the jar and shake well. Open the lid and gently submerge anything that has floated to the surface with a spoon. Add more Vinegar to fill to the top if needed. If you don't have a plastic lid, you can line your metal lid with parchment paper before securing it.
- Place jar in a cool, dark place and allow to steep for 1 Month. Shake the jar a few times a week and re-submerge ingredients with a spoon.
- After 4 Weeks, strain the Vinegar through a cheesecloth or fine-mesh sieve into a clean jar - pressing and squeezing every last drop. Toss the herbs/roots out (or some folks use them in a stir fry - I have yet to be so bold!). You can keep it in one large bottle or funnel it into smaller bottles to keep on hand or give to friends :)
- To the strained Vinegar, add 1 tsp Cayanne Pepper and Raw Honey (to taste, I like about 1/4 cup). Blend with immersion blender to incorporate.
- Store in a cool, dark place (or the fridge - my preference)
If making Fire Cider just isn't up your alley, I really love this one that is commercially available in most health food stores.
Let me know what you think! Do you like Fire Cider??