Many decades ago, the renowned herbalist Rosemary Gladstar coined the term “Fire Cider” for a simple home made respiratory tonic using easy to find kitchen ingredients and apple cider vinegar (recipe below).
When I was in herbal school in the late 1990’s, I learned it as Professor’s Blend. Whatever name you call it by, this is a time-tested, tasty tonic to protect – or treat – respiratory infections such as colds or flu’s. It’s tasty and very effective. It’s been popularized to nip colds and flu’s in the bud, however I recommend it as a daily tonic for everyone and especially for those who are asthmatic and / or suffer from recurrent sinus infections or ear infections. PLUS it’s a great digestive aid for sluggish, weak digestion. Our digestion is intrinsically connected to our immune health; this tonic has the amazing dual purpose of supporting both important body systems.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
The main ingredients are pungent, spicy & aromatic: garlic, onions, ginger, and sometimes horseradish and a touch of cayenne pepper. Onions, garlic and ginger are all herbs known for their antimicrobial, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory actions. Garlic is protective for the heart, and all of the ingredients stimulate and support the circulatory system which I believe is one of clue’s for why it has such great health benefits. When we are tired, run down, naturally have a chilly constitution, or are sensitive to cold drafts our circulation is not moving as it should, we are stagnant, and leave ourselves more vulnerable to illness. When our digestion is slow, sluggish, or we’re constipated, our body is “cold” and we are more susceptible to getting sick.
Fire cider is warming and stimulates circulation. The circulatory system includes both the blood circulation (blood carries nutrients throughout the body) and the lymphatic system (which moves cellular waste out of the body). Stimulating the circulatory system protects the body by ensuring nutrients are cycled through the body and waste is moved out of our lymph. And as mentioned above, it gives the digestion a nice kick, and protects the respiratory system. Now you can see why after decades this herbal tonic hasn’t gone out of style. It really works.
Here’s a step-by-step video for how to make Fire Cider. If you’re the type of person that’d rather read the recipe than watch the video, just scroll down, I’ve written all the steps out just below the video. Enjoy!
HOW TO USE FIRE CIDER
Start or end your day with a tablespoon in a little water or tea as a preventative through the cold and flu season. While sick, take up to 6 tablespoons. Children may prefer the cider in a little juice. Use it in salad dressings for the family as a daily wellness shot. Warm it on the stove as an inhalant to clear sinuses.
Recipe Time: 15 minutes or less
A litre (quart) size canning jar
Wax paper to line the lid
Grater, chopping knife, and / or food processor
While every herbalist has their own version of fire cider, they all more or less include onions, garlic, and horseradish. If you cannot find fresh horseradish in a farmer’s market, garden (it grows like a weed!) or grocery store, then buy the condiment horseradish, but read the ingredients and make sure there’s no additives other than salt and vinegar.
1/2 cup onions
1/2 cup chopped garlic OR two whole heads of garlic, peeled & chopped
1/4 cup peeled ginger root
1/2 cup horseradish * or 1/4 cup if you’re really sensitive to this spicy root
*Optional: 1/2 cup fresh peeled turmeric root
1 organic cayenne pepper. If you cannot find them whole, purchase organic, dried cayenne flakes or seeds and had just 1/4 tsp. I find the powder irritating.
apple cider vinegar – which itself is medicinal and healing as an anti-inflammatory and digestive aid. Step by step instructions to make your own apple cider vinegar here.
* Optional: honey to taste (I prefer it without, as I like savoury medicines).
Finely chop, grate or put the above ingredients in a food processor:
Place the ingredients into a clean, wide-mouthed mason jar large enough that it fills the jar half (or nearly half) full. Transfer to a larger mason jar if your herbs fill nearly to the brim of the jar.
Cover with apple cider vinegar. Keep in mind that all the herbs must be completely submerged in the vinegar. If any of the herbs poke above the surface your fire cider may spoil.
place a piece of wax paper over the opening of the jar, and then fasten the canning jar lid. The wax paper prevents the vinegar from rusting the metal lid.
Label with the date and full ingredient list.
Store in dark place for 2-4 weeks.
When it is ready, strain and bottle. At this point, if you find it way too intense you may add some honey to taste. It does not need to be refrigerated. However, you may keep in the fridge to prolong the life of the vinegar. Unrefrigerated it lasts about 10 months. You may use the spent herbs in a stir fry or add to sauerkraut.