Decades ago, renowned herbalist Rosemary Gladstar gave the name Fire Cider to a spicy, delicious respiratory tonic made from simple kitchen ingredients.
The basic ingredients are pungent herbs like onions and garlic, steeped in apple cider vinegar which has its own health benefits too.
When I was in herbal school in the late 1990's, I learned this recipe as Professor's Blend. No matter the name you call it by, this beloved recipe is now one made by herbalists everywhere. It's consumed regularly to protect against respiratory infections such as colds or flu's.
While it's been popularized to nip colds and flu's in the bud, I recommend it as a daily preventative tonic particularly for asthmatics and those who suffer from recurrent sinus or ear infections. Not to mention, it's a wonderful digestive aid for sluggish digestion.
The body is like a garden, each body system influencing the next. This interrelationship among all body systems is recognized in holistic systems of medicine such as Homeopathy, Herbalism, and the ancient systems of Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda.
All of these traditions recognize healthy digestive function provides the basis for our immune health, and respiratory function reflects the health of our digestive system.
According to Chinese Medicine, "The lung meridian communicates with the large intestine creating an exterior and interior relationship between these two organs. Thus, they influence each other closely" (Source).
This spicy tonic that's so easy to make has the dual purpose of supporting both the digestive and respiratory health. And what happens when we strengthen and support both the digestive and respiratory system? Well, we feel a whole lot better!
A personal sidenote, I notice when I take this formula daily through the winter my overall circulation improves and I no longer have symptoms of Raynaud's Syndrome.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
The main ingredients are pungent, spicy & aromatic: garlic, onions, ginger, and sometimes horseradish with a touch of cayenne pepper. All of these herbs are known for their antimicrobial, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory properties.
Garlic is protective for the heart, and all of the ingredients are warming, stimulating and supporting the circulatory system.
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, or take straight up as a daily wellness shot. Warm it on the stove as an inhalant to clear sinuses.
Recipe Preparation: 30 minutes
A litre (quart) size canning jar
Wax paper to line the lid
Grater, chopping knife, or food processor
While every herbalist has their own version of fire cider, they all more or less include onions, garlic, ginger and horseradish.
If you cannot find fresh horseradish then buy a jar of prepared horseradish, but read the ingredients to make sure there's no additives other than salt and vinegar.
1/2 cup onions
1/2 cup garlic (tip: no need to peel or chop since it'll all go into the blender)
1/4 cup fresh ginger root
1/2 cup horseradish * or 1/4 cup if you're really sensitive to this spicy root
1/4 tsp ground organic cayenne pepper
enough apple cider vinegar to cover all the ingredients
(Step by step instructions to make your own apple cider vinegar here.)
Honey to taste (optional)
1/2 cup fresh peeled turmeric root
1/3 cup orange peels or other citrus fruit peels (fresh or dried)
1/4 cup elderberries
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds or pure juice (thanks to Julia Blankespoor for this inspiration!)
I use to finely chop and grate all these ingredients by hand. But then I upgraded to a food processor which cut down the preparation time to just a few minutes!
Place the ingredients into a blender and cover with just enough organic apple cider vinegar until well combined.
Next, pour into a clean, wide-mouthed mason jar large enough that it fills the jar 3/4 full with herbs, and leaves enough room to fill to the top with more 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 cool place for a minimum of 10 days, or a maximum of 30 days.
When it is ready, strain, add some honey to taste, then bottle.
It does not need to be refrigerated. However, you may keep in the fridge to prolong the shelf life.
Unrefrigerated it lasts about 10 months.
You may use the spent herbs in a stir fry or add to sauerkraut.
I've been making this recipe for 20 years and it still brings me great joy..
and it makes wonderful holiday gifts! I highly recommend surprising friends and family with a bottle.
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