Fire Cider: An Easy-to-make homemade respiratory tonic

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.


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.


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)

Optional Ingredients: 
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.

Want to learn more? Join my Online Herbal Apprenticeship here! 

xo Seraphina


  1. JOY on April 11, 2023 at 8:25 pm

    This is great information, I will be making up these recipes. Thanks for sharing. JOY

    • Seraphina Capranos on April 11, 2023 at 9:39 pm

      You are so welcome Joy!
      So glad to hear you will be making these recipes.

  2. Becky Kent on September 25, 2018 at 11:29 am

    Hi ,
    I was wonder if you can use the onion mix in something after you drain it.. I hate to waste
    stuff ??

  3. Ayna on September 27, 2017 at 10:00 pm

    This is brilliant! Will be making some soon. Thank you for sharing your wisdom x

  4. Victoria on September 23, 2017 at 2:19 pm

    I have a really hard time finding the horseradish root, would it be ok to use the commercially sold in a jar?

    • Seraphina Capranos on September 23, 2017 at 10:29 pm

      Hi Victoria,

      Yes, you can use the commercially prepared horseradish, so long as the ingredient list is simple and pure, and dairy free. However, when horseradish is hard to find fresh I’ve made this recipe without it with the bulk of the ingredients being onions and garlic – and it’s still wonderful and effective!

  5. Cindy on September 20, 2017 at 4:13 am

    Hello. Wonderful post and video . Thank you.
    I’m thinking of trying one with some dried shiitake mushrooms added. What are your thoughts on this?

  6. Monika on October 29, 2016 at 6:38 pm

    Hi Seraphina! Thank you for posting this recipe!! Erika made a batch and gave me some … it’s wonderful!! I also enjoyed your video … you are looking great!! <3 <3

  7. Wera on October 18, 2016 at 12:31 pm

    Ahh Seraphina thank you, i am making my fire cider today, all ingredients from the farm this year:) and it is wonderful to watch your little video. Thanks for being such an amazing teacher!

    • Seraphina Capranos on October 19, 2016 at 12:13 pm

      You are so welcome! Thank you for your lovely comment! Happy autumn,

  8. Dawn on February 16, 2016 at 10:19 am

    I am ready to drain my mixture but the contents look very gray. I’m not sure if this is something I should put into my body.

    • Seraphina Capranos on February 16, 2016 at 12:20 pm

      Yes, the contents do look grey because the vinegar has drawn out and “exhausted” the plant material. But the liquid should look and smell good – like the ingredients.

  9. carrina on January 24, 2016 at 4:19 pm

    Thank you so much for posting the recipe!
    I was just given a small jar of fire cider by one of your students. I really like it but find the raw onions in the mix doesn’t sit well with me. Would it drastically decrease the medicinal properties to make it without?

    • Seraphina Capranos on January 25, 2016 at 11:09 am

      Hi Carrina!

      Yes,onions don’t do well for everyone. You could simply make this recipe by omitting the onions, and then add more garlic, horseradish, ginger to balance out the bulk of ingredients. You’d still have a very effective Fire Cider!
      Have fun, and enjoy. ~ Seraphina

  10. Shivani on December 17, 2015 at 12:05 am

    Can you do 1/2 horseradish root AND 1/2 turmeric root, or would that be yucky?
    Also, your post is a little unclear about if I do like a lot of horseradish root (I don’t mind the heat), your recipe states use 1/2 CUP horseradish root right??

    • Seraphina Capranos on January 25, 2016 at 11:57 am

      Yes of course you can! And yes, 1/2 cup horseradish. However, the proportions are not strict, honestly you can accommodate the ratios to your own taste. There’s lots of flexibility here. Enjoy!

  11. Lindsay on January 3, 2015 at 10:21 am

    I had some of Kelsey’s batch over the holidays, and it’s definitely now a priority to make my own. Thank you for a great recipe!

    • admin on January 3, 2015 at 6:35 pm

      You’re welcome Lindsay! Sending love, xo

  12. Heike on October 22, 2014 at 12:01 pm

    I followed exactly your instruction, no green parts of plants and it turned to a beautiful turquoise. Looks very interesting. Could it be a chemical reaction?

    • admin on October 23, 2014 at 8:08 am

      Hi, Yes, it’s likely a chemical reaction in the fresh, possibly young or too-early harvested onions. I’ve just had a few students email me and say they’ve noticed this happen in their fresh produce.

  13. Heike on October 22, 2014 at 2:15 am

    Thank you for your recipe.Just made it. But after one day it turned turquoise. Can you tell me why and can i still use it ? Thank you.

    • admin on October 22, 2014 at 7:57 am

      Green?! I’ve never had that happen before – unless I used fresh burdock roots, or some of the green parts of the horseradish leaf etc. Did you use any green parts of plants?

  14. Elaina on October 15, 2014 at 10:49 am

    Wonderful, Seraphina, and a lovely video. Thank you

    • admin on October 15, 2014 at 11:02 am

      Thank you! I enjoyed writing this.

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