Fire cider in a jar waiting to be tasted. (Image courtesy domaphile.quora.com)

A jar of homemade fire cider. (Image courtesy domaphile.quora.com)

When holiday fatigue hit the offices recently, the team started passing around shots – not of whiskey (though that too is known to happen) but Fire Cider. We winced, shook our heads and swallowed. We felt better. What is this magical concoction?

Traditionally a cold remedy, many people take a hit of the cure-all every morning, since it’s known to have anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, immune-boosting, decongestant and digestive properties. Needless to say, with all those healing abilities, Fire Cider is not for sensitive palates or lily livers. The heady tonic has a way of making a clean sweep of your digestive system. (Woe to the person who kicks off a daily Fire Cider habit directly following a night of copious drinking…). As with most things in life, moderation is key. We recommend working your way up to gulping down the remedy with gusto.

Garlic, onion and ginger make up the base of a fire cider. (Image courtesy The Dabblist via Flickr)

The base: garlic, onion and ginger – and lots of it. (Image courtesy The Dabblist via Flickr)

The name Fire Cider hints at its ingredients: “Fire” for horseradish and ginger roots, jalapeno peppers and turmeric powder; “Cider” for, well, cider (of the apple vinegar variety). Depending on what’s in season, you can also add fresh herbs, such as rosemary, or the rind of an orange peel. Variations of the recipe abound, but here is our go-to from the trusty herbal reference website Mountain Rose:

½ cup fresh grated ginger root
½ cup fresh grated horseradish root
1 medium onion, chopped
10 cloves garlic, crushed or chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, chopped
1 lemon, juice and a bit of zest
1 tbsp turmeric powder
several sprigs fresh rosemary or 2 tbsp dried rosemary leaves
1 quart apple cider vinegar
raw honey to taste

*using organic ingredients is recommended

Add some heat and a pop of color to your fire cider with habanero peppers. (Image of The Dabblist via Flickr)

Habanero peppers add extra heat and a pop of color. (Image of The Dabblist via Flickr)

Prepare all the ingredients and combine (except for the honey) in a quart-sized jar. Place a piece of parchment or wax paper under the lid to avoid the corrosive vinegar coming into contact with the metal.

Store the mixture in a dark, cool place for one month. Remember to shake daily. According to folk medicine traditions, the jar is buried underground to control temperature and promote further extraction. When solstice comes round, the vessel is ceremoniously dug up and the Fire Cider enjoyed.

Shire City Herbals, which we sell at Kaufmann Mercantile, makes a potent Fire Cider. (Image courtesy New Amsterdam Market via Flickr)

Shire City Herbals makes a potent Fire Cider, which you can also buy in our store. (Image courtesy New Amsterdam Market via Flickr)

After a month, pour the liquid into another clean jar. Strain the pulp that has formed using a cheesecloth, squeezing occasionally to ensure you get the most liquid out as possible. Add ¼ cup of raw honey and stir well, then continue to mix in another ¼ cup, or to taste. The honey should only be mixed in at the time of consumption, otherwise its natural antibiotic properties could kill all the good bacteria you wanted to grow, and the natural sugars could also favor yeast rather than bacterial fermentation, creating a boozy cider.

Take it straight up, or add to a salad dressing or vegetable juice. Fire Cider can also be used as a decongestant when added to a bowl of steaming water. Place a towel over your head and breathe deeply. There, all better.

Do you have a tried-and-true Fire Cider recipe? We’d love to compare notes.

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7 Comments

  1. Daniel Roath
    Posted March 22, 2014 at 10:13 AM | Permalink

    Just curious …. the recipe lists Jalapenos as one of the ingredients, but in the picture it looks like Habanero peppers instead ….. and 3 or 4 rather than just 2. Am I seeing right? Are you kicking the heat up "little"? That would definitely clear the sinuses, no matter what else was in there!

    Also, the directions say to use a quart jar to hold all of the ingredients, including a quart of vinegar. Maybe I am nit-picking, but I can see someone using a quart jar and trying to fit it all in ………………..

    Gotta try this. Just need to decide if I'll use Jalapenos or Habaneros …………….

  2. David
    Posted March 22, 2014 at 12:03 PM | Permalink

    I’m just gonna use a jar with a plastic lid, instead of a metal lidded one.
    Definitely gonna bury in the ground, though. That’s just too cool to NOT do it.

  3. Rex
    Posted March 22, 2014 at 8:15 PM | Permalink

    Does this ferment?

  4. alexredgrave
    Posted March 24, 2014 at 1:30 PM | Permalink

    Hi Daniel,

    Good question. I was actually pulling from two recipes – out of the dozens out there. The beauty of Fire Cider is that it can be varied to suit different tastes. The version from The Dabblist calls for four habeneros (pictured above) but no horse radish (as per Mountain Rose), while our friends over at Read My Tea Leaves suggest using two cayenne peppers. So your options abound, depending on how much heat you can – or want – to handle.

    Let us know how it turns out!

    Alex

    PS Here are the links: http://www.thedabblist.com/fire-cider-cold-remedyhttp://www.readingmytealeaves.com/2012/11/make-yohttp://www.sagemountain.com/rosemary-gladstar/win

  5. alexredgrave
    Posted March 31, 2014 at 1:38 PM | Permalink

    Hi Rex,

    Sorry, I somehow missed your question. Yes, the cider does ferment.

    Alex

  6. Luke Weinhagen
    Posted August 22, 2014 at 4:56 PM | Permalink

    Good Recipe.

    Use a Fermentation Crock Pot (it'd be cool to see these in the store here) with stones to hold the solids down and a water seal. The fermenting organics will bubble up through the liquid. No need to shake. The water seal keeps air out but lets gasses escape. The crocks are opaque so it is already a dark place. And when you are not making Fire Cider you can use it to make some wicked sauerkraut .

  7. alexredgrave
    Posted September 3, 2014 at 7:44 AM | Permalink

    Hey Luke,

    Thanks for the tip and good call on the crock pot! Looking into it now, so keep an eye out in the shop…

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