Food & Drink

Fire Cider

by Alex Redgrave December 28, 2013
ReadFire Cider When holiday fatigue hit the offices recently, the team started passing around shots
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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