Fire cider is a herbal remedy great for healing colds and the flu. Learn how to use the healing power of common ingredients and make your fire cider today!
(This post was contributed by Melissa Keyser.)
Have you ever had fire cider?
If not, you’ll want to pull up a chair and take note. You need some of this magic potion in your kitchen.
When you’re sick, with snot dripping from your nose and a burning throat and an aching back and core, the last thing you might want to do is drink a shot of vinegar, right? But you should, because it’s super good for you and will curb that cold. Not tempting enough? How about vinegar flavored with horseradish, onions, and garlic?
Awful sounding, I know. It’s a hard sell. But a few weeks ago, I caught the head cold that was going around, but thankfully, it was short lived. I hold the success for kicking it to be taking regular doses of homemade fire cider. And, it actually tastes quite nice!
I’m not a clinical herbalist, but self-taught from books. One day I hope to go to herb school, but until then, I like to play around with preparations and herbs I feel comfortable with. Making fire cider is one of them. If you’ve never made an herbal medicine, this is a great one to start with. It requires no fancy equipment, and it’s made with common ingredients from the garden, the pantry or the grocery store.
What is fire cider?
Fire cider is an herbal remedy to take at the first signs of a cold or flu.
This is traditional medicine, also known as a folk remedy, and has been called “the most powerful antibiotic ever” (at least, according to the internet). The ingredients can change from year to year, depending on the season it’s being prepared and what’s growing around you.
I love making fire cider because not only does it help keep me healthy, but it allows me to channel my inner kitchen witch. My goal is to be an old woman, with long silver hair, living in a cabin in the woods. Dried herbs will be hanging from the rafters, lines of jars and bins fill the panty, a cat (or two. or three) in front of a woodstove, and I’ll be at a well-worn kitchen table, preparing herbal medicines. Perhaps I’ve read too many fairy tales?
I’m not at that stage of my life, but there are elements I can channel now. I can have the bundles of drying herbs, prepare the herbal medicines, and I already have the cats, albeit sitting in front of a space heater.
While I have no idea of fire cider was part of my ancestor’s repertoire, I’m sure they created something similar- gathering ingredients from the earth and creating potions to help keep them well. As I make herbal medicine, I like to think of the women before me who walked their own lands, stood in their own kitchens, and used their hands to make the same medicines.
Too woo-woo for you? At the very least, I can avoid the psychedelic colored goo that comes in a plastic bottle at the drugstore and give a big middle finger to big Pharma.
How to Make your Own Fire Cider
There are many different versions of fire cider, each herbalist making their own adjustments, but the basics are all the same: fresh garlic, onions, ginger, horseradish, and chile peppers infuse vinegar for a desired amount of time, then the vinegar is strained and honey is added. There are also many other ingredients you can add, based on your herbal goals and what’s available to you.
Want to get started on your own batch? Skip to the bottom for the recipe. Want to know more about what’s in fire cider and why it works? Keep reading.
For your fire cider, you want to make sure to use raw, unpasteurized and unfiltered apple cider vinegar. This is the vinegar that has the weird brown silty stuff at the bottom, also known as the mother. Bragg’s is a common brand, but there are others out there. The vinegar pulls out the important healing properties of the foods, but it could also pull out any poison residues. Avoid that, and make sure to use organic ingredients for your homemade medicines.
Fire Cider Ingredients
Apple Cider Vinegar: valuable for cold and flu care as it can soothe sore throats, helps with digestion issues, thins mucus and reduces congestion (so that runny nose or a cough), boosts energy, and can kill free radicals.
Ginger is a warming and decongesting herb, and is anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral. Ginger helps with imbalances such as poor circulation, colds, and bouts of the flu. It has been shown to reduce inflammation and is effective for nausea and gastrointestinal infections.
Horseradish is a potent infection fighter. Ounce for ounce, horseradish has more medicinally active compounds than any other spice. It is useful for treating upper respiratory problems, reducing inflammation, fights bacteria and viruses and helps relax muscles. Like the vinegar, it also helps clear congestion and thins mucus. Yummy, right?
Onion can help lower cholesterol, regulate blood sugar, and kill cancer cells. They are anti-inflammatory and can help relax the airway muscles and asthma systems. Onions are rich in antioxidants, which protect the body against free radicals, which encourage a strong immune system.
Garlic is one of the most versatile culinary herbs for treating colds, the flu, sore throats and poor digestion. It boosts the body’s immune systems and is antiseptic, anti-bacterial, and anti-microbial; making it effective against many types of infections, even those found to be from antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria.
Chili gets its healing powers from its main constituent Capsaicin. It stimulates circulation, digestion, and signals the brain to release endorphins. It can aid and support the immune system, relieves congestion, and are anti-parasitic.
Citrus is a vitamin C powerhouse. It also tastes good.
Honey is loaded with anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. It can help suppress coughs and helps with sleep. It adds a balancing sweetness to the other pungent ingredients. Basically, making it drinkable.
My batch of Fire Cider:
I make a batch every year or so, changing it up a bit to try new things and use what I have around me. This batch, I used all the traditional ingredients, as well as adding some thyme from the garden, cinnamon sticks, and foraged rose hips and juniper berries.
A traditional folk remedy for just about anything, including the common cold. Fire cider is a blend of common kitchen ingredients and it's easy to make at home.
- 1/2 cup freshly grated ginger root (peeled or not)
- 1/2 cup freshly grated horseradish root (peeled)
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 10 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 spicy peppers, chopped if fresh (such as jalapeno or cayenne)
- 1 lemon, sliced or chopped
- 1-quart raw apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup, or more, local raw honey
- Orange, Lime, Grapefruit, Rosemary, Thyme, Oregano, Fresh Turmeric, Rosehips, Juniper berries, Star Anise, Schisandra berries, Astragalus, Parsley, Burdock, Echinacea, Peppercorns, Cinnamon, Yarrow, and/or Elderberry
- Place all prepared ingredients in a large glass jar. Cover with the apple cider vinegar.
- Close the jar. If using a metal lid, put a piece of parchement between the glass and the lid, to keep the vinegar from touching the metal.
- Set aside in a dark spot, shaking daily (or as remembered).
- Let steep for 3-4 weeks, then use cheesecloth or a fine sieve to strain.
- Add honey to vinegar and stir until incorporated. Taste and add more if needed.
This will keep for 2 years in the fridge. Take 1-2 tablespoons (or 1 shot glass) at the first sign of a cold, and repeat every 3-4 hours until symptoms subside.
This mixture is also great added to a Bloody Mary or used in salad dressing.
Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional and the information I provide is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment.