You may have noticed fire cider appear at the local health food shops every autumn & winter. Yet instead of purchasing a store bought version, I urge you to make your own as it is simple and you have more control over making it to your tastes. I have been making fire cider for years now, every Autumn to boost my immune system before the cold of winter comes; though admittingly this year I have left it rather late. So today, on the eve of the autumn equinox, I gathered all the ingredients (minus horseradish as I could not find it locally) and made a quick batch.
In recent years there has been quite the fire cider controversy. A Massachusetts company called Shire City Herbals trademarked the name ‘Fire Cider’ and started sueing herbalists who used the name, despite the fact it was simply the name of the herbal remedy that people have been making since the 1970s. Fortunately this did not go unopposed, people banded together against the company, there were petitions, calls to boycott the product, stores refused to sell it and finally it went to court. It is more than just making fire cider, its about companies trying to limit tradition and sharing of knowledge of herbal remedies. Thankfully there was a court ruling in late 2019 determining the term ‘fire cider’ is generic and can not be trademarked, which is important as its a precedent-setting case which will help support herbalists if another corporation tries to trademark a generic herbal term.
The way I make it is based on Rosemary Gladstar’s recipe who came up with fire cider in the 1970s (yes the same brilliant herbalist who’s recipe I shared with on my calendula salve post). However, I add a few more ingredients as I figure the more immune boosting power the better and rather than measuring everything precisely I throw it all in and keep cutting more till I fill up the jar. Feel free to change it to your tastes. As long as there is apple cider vinegar, garlic, honey and cayenne pepper – the rest is up to you.
Apple cider vinegar
5-10 cloves of garlic (depending on size, the more the better I say)
3cm section of ginger root (can chop or grate)
3cm section of horseradish (can chop or grate)
1 brown onion chopped roughly
2 sprigs of rosemary
1 lemon cut into quarters
1 orange cut into quarters
1 green chilli sliced
1 tablespoon turmeric
1/4 tablespoon cayenne pepper
honey to taste
- Put all the ingredients, minus the honey, in a jar.
- Cover with apple cider vinegar by about two inches.
- Use a piece of natural parchment paper or wax paper under the lid to keep the vinegar from touching the metal.
- Store in a dark, cool place for one month and shake daily.
- After one month, use cheesecloth to strain out the pulp, pouring the vinegar into a clean jar. Be sure to squeeze as much of the liquid as you can from the pulp while straining.
- Add 2 tablespoons honey and stir until incorporated. Taste your cider and add more until you reach desired sweetness.
Fire cider should taste hot, sweet and spicy. I take a tablespoon of it in the evening, but I know some people even use it as salad dressing, on rice, or with steamed vegetables. Yes it may give you a bit of garlic breath, but I’ll take that trade for a winter with less cold & flu.
Hope you enjoy making your own too and that it becomes one of your autumn traditions!