Many decades ago, renowned herbalist Rosemary Gladstar coined the term "Fire Cider" for the delicious respiratory tonic made from easy to find kitchen ingredients macerated in apple cider vinegar.
When I was in herbal school in the late 1990's, I learned it as Professor's Blend. No matter the name you call it by, this is a beloved recipe that herbalists everywhere use 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 tonic for everyone, especially for those who are asthmatic or suffer from recurrent sinus infections or ear infections. It's also a digestive aid for sluggish, weak digestion. Our digestion provides the basis for our immune health, and the respiratory and digestive systems are both intrinsically connected, one's energy flowing into the other. 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 has the dual purpose of supporting both of these body systems.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
The main ingredients are pungent, spicy & aromatic: garlic, onions, ginger, and sometimes horseradish with a touch of cayenne pepper. These herbs are known for their antimicrobial, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory properties. Garlic is protective for the heart, and all of the ingredients stimulate and support the circulatory system and are classified as warming. From an energetic perspective, when we are tired, run down and tend towards being chilly and sluggish our internal fire is low leading to a greater susceptibility for being sick. This fire cider helps to generate the internal heat to increase vitality.
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 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 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
1/4 tsp ground organic cayenne pepper
apple cider vinegar to cover
(Step by step instructions to make your own apple cider vinegar here.)
Honey to taste (I prefer it without, as I like savoury medicines).
1/2 cup fresh peeled turmeric root
1/3 cup orange peels or other citrus fruit peels (fresh or dried)
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds or pure juice (thanks to Julia Blankespoor for this inspiration!)
Finely chop, grate or place the above ingredients in a food processor:
Once well chopped, place the ingredients into a clean, wide-mouthed mason jar large enough that it fills the jar 3/4 full.
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, 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.