Fire Cider

Have you heard of fire cider? This delicious vinegar-based concoction is a seasoning, herbal remedy and immune booster all in one! It’s super easy to make and you probably have most of the ingredients in your kitchen right now!

Before I give you a basic recipe, I need to mention the battle over the term “fire cider”. Since 2014 the herbalist community, along with many others, have been fighting the trademarking of “fire cider”. It was in 2104 that the small company (now a larger cooperation) trademarked the term “fire cider” under the radar of the herbalist community. For comparison, this is like trademarking the term “chicken soup”! Fire cider has been used by countless herbalists across the globe for decades and was first coined by famous herbalist Rosemary Gladstar in the 1970’s. Shire City Herbals trademarked a term for a product that has no ownership and proceeded to sue people who tried to sell their product under the term fire cider.

Needless to say, this battle set off a debate about trademarking traditional recipes. If you want more information about the Free Fire Cider movement click HERE. There’s a lot of info and a timeline of the actual events. By making your own fire cider and spreading the word, YOU are part of the fight to free fire cider! Thank you!

I’ve taught lots of folks how to make this and it’s always fun to see the different ingredients each person chooses!

Joan’s Fire Cider Recipe

You’ll need:
-a clean jar (pint or bigger, depends on how much you want to make!)
-apple cider vinegar (I like the raw kind with the mother!)
-hot chili peppers (dried or fresh)
-turmeric root or powder

-Optional ingredients: star anise, black peppercorns, other citrus fruits, other herbs like dandelion root, burdock root or rosemary, rose hips…it’s really up to your imagination! If an ingredient is appealing to you in it’s fresh or dried form, try adding a little to start (around 1/2 tablespoon or so).

Chop all of your fresh ingredients. I don’t grate my ingredients because they tend to get too mushy and don’t strain as well. How much should you add? It’s up to you! I start with layers of onion, garlic, ginger and peppers then add other ingredients on top. Fill your jar with the chopped ingredients to about 1 inch below the top of the container, then cover with apple cider vinegar. Use a chopstick or wooden spoon handle and gently slide it between the glass and ingredients and press to release any trapped air bubbles.

Label it! Use masking tape or something more fancy if you’d like, but make sure to label WHAT’S in the jar and WHEN you started it! I’ve had to dump out jars because there was no label and that’s a sad occasion!

Shake your jar, sing to it if you want, but shake every one or two days. I like to leave my jar of steeping fire cider on the counter or another place where I can see it and not forget to shake it! After a month, it’s time to strain your fire cider. You can use cheesecloth, an old (clean) t-shirt or a clean kitchen towel. Set the fabric you’re using in a colander over a bowl (don’t forget the bowl and pour your fire cider down the sink!). Pour all that yummy goodness out into the colander then take up the edges of the fabric and twist and SQUEEZE every last drop you can out of the solids. Compost the solids please!

Pour the liquid back into the original jar, or a new jar if you want. Label when you strained the liquid and store in the refrigerator. If anything settles (powdered stuff usually does) you can just give your jar a shake before pouring. I store my fire cider without any honey added but here’s how to add honey: measure your liquid you strained off, pour into a pan, add the same amount of honey (or more or less to taste) and GENTLY heat. Once combined, pour into your jar and LABEL that it has honey in it! Store in the refrigerator.

If you have little ones under 2 years old, it’s recommended that you not give them honey. I started giving our daughter our raw honey when she was 1 year old. It’s a personal decision and up to YOU!

I love to use my fire cider on salad, which I eat pretty much every day for lunch, YUM! But you can drink it neat (like a shot) or mix it with honey for each serving. It’s great on any veggies, rice or noodles. Just use anywhere you’d use vinegar! It lasts a long time in the frig but I recommend using it up within 6 months (I have had some for a year and it’s still fine but the medicinal qualities may have declined over that time).

What’s good about fire cider? Depending on which ingredients you use, the end result is a power house of food-based medicine!

Ginger root (Zingiber officinale)—I absolutely LOVE ginger and try to put it in all of my food (not such a good match in scrambled eggs!). Ginger is a warming herb and is great for the reproductive, respiratory, and digestive systems.

Garlic (Allium sativum)—One of the oldest remedies known to humans, garlic is an immune system booster, can help regulate cholesterol and blood pressure and is used as a vermifuge (to rid the intestines of worms, gross but effective).

Onion— any onion will work here except green onion, which you can add in if you want! Red, white or yellow onion are perfect! Chop into pieces, don’t grate! Grating can mean you just have onion mush to strain out, and that’s no fun!

Turmeric (Curcuma longa)—Antioxidant rich, anti-inflammatory and immune boosting root that’s native to India and South Asia. Turmeric is warming and drying and is excellent at treating coughs and colds with excess mucus.

Chili Pepper (Capsicum sp.)—This includes all hot peppers like jalepenos, cayenne and paprika, which are another warming ingredient. Check out THIS page for more info on chili peppers and their health benefits including increased circulation, soothing sore muscles and pain reduction. Chili peppers and a super-powered food and should definitely be included in your fire cider!

Apple cider vinegar (ACV)—I like to use the Braggs organic apple cider vinegar with the mother but really and ACV will do.

Honey—local honey is the best!

Herbs—throw in whatever suits your fancy or that you have on hand: peppercorns, basil, rosemary, turmeric, and red pepper flakes are always good! You can add fresh herbs from your garden too (lemon balm, tulsi, sage, calendula, salad burnet, etc.).

Foraged bits—If foraging is your thang, go ahead and throw some ramps, dandelion greens/flowers, wild chives, violet flowers, burdock root, or yellow dock leaves/root into the mix. Make sure you don’t collect near roadways and always leave enough for the bees and animals/insects!

Joan Jach