Fire Cider: The History, the Recipe, and the Controversy...

The history and origin of Fire Cider is about as varied as the recipe itself- coming from oral tradition, handed down from generation to generation, "older than the hills", as they say.  Rosemary Gladstar, considered to be the "godmother of modern herbalism" in North America, coined the phrase in the 1970's and shared the recipe freely.  "Fire Cider" became a hot topic in the last 5 years or so due to some attempts to copyright the title, an attempt that failed.  "Fire Cider" remains a free title, as it should.

   So what exactly is Fire Cider?  Fire cider is a blend of warming, lymphatic-stimulating ingredients soaked in apple cider vinegar to create a distillation of sorts.  The ingredients have anti-inflammatory properties, and are used traditionally to support immune system functions during cold months, staving off colds, the flu, and other seasonal ailments.  The mixture is considered to encourage digestion, and improve circulation as well.

   Okay, sounds interesting- now let's make some!  Here's one of our favorite variations, from Mountain Rose Herbs, although you can tailor your recipe to suit your own tastes!

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 10 cloves of garlic, crushed or chopped
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, chopped (I seed mine)
  • 1 lemon, juiced and zested (I like to slice mine and add peels and all!)
  • 1/2 c fresh ginger root
  • 1/2 c fresh horseradish root
  • 1 Tbs turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 Tbs dried rosemary leaves
  • Organic Apple Cider Vinegar (I use the kind with the "mother")
  • 1/4-1/2 c honey (I lean towards the liberal side of this to counter the acidity!)
  • You can add in other ingredients like orange, cinnamon sticks, and thyme as well!

   Prepare all of the herbs and add to a quart-sized or larger glass jar.  Shake the apple cider vinegar to distribute the 'mother', and then pour into jar until the ingredients are all covered.  I continue pouring until the jar is full, unless I've used a much bigger jar than I needed! Place tight-fitting lid on jar, with a layer of parchment paper protecting any metal from the vinegar- you do not want to be surprised by an 'old penny' flavor when you're ready to use you fire cider! Shake well.  Store your jar in a cool, dark place, shaking daily to blend.  If you need to add more vinegar at any point, do so!  After 4-6 weeks have passed, use cheesecloth to strain out solids, squeezing as much liquid as possible out.  You can compost these, or set them aside for the Fire Cider Chutney recipe we'll share in our newsletter!  Add in honey, and stir well to incorporate.  Adjust as needed with more honey as you go.  You can store this mixture in a cool, dark location for a month at a time, but we prefer to store our in the refrigerator to get the maximum amount of time out of it!

   Rosemary suggests taking 1-2 tablespoons at the first sign of a cold, and repeating every 4 hours until symptoms subside.  You can also take a tablespoon daily in a shot, mixed with juice, or over a salad to boost immune support.

   Safety recommendations: Fire cider is very warming, and considerably acidic.  If you have stomach or esophageal ulcers, or are prone to severe acid reflux, this might not be a winner for you.  As with trying anything new, we suggest doing a trial run before committing to repeats.  As usual, we are not attempting to treat, diagnose, or cure disease or illness, we're just sharing folk traditions in herbalism that may or may not inspire you!  Always check in with your doctor if your symptoms are worsening, and discontinue use if you have a bad reaction!

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