Vinegar-based tonics like fire cider and vinegar shrubs have been making a come-back as of late. What was once perceived as an old-fashioned remedy is now becoming a practical pantry staple in contemporary kitchens. And rightly so – there are many wonderful health benefits of herb-infused vinegars. Fire Cider, for instance, with it’s potent combination of warming and immune-stimulating herbs is fantastic for helping you stay healthy and strong during cold and flu season. Garlic and onions, with their sulfur-rich compounds provide an anti-bacterial and anti-viral punch, while cayenne, ginger and horseradish are warming, circulatory herbs that get your blood moving. Fire Cider is useful if you feel a winter bug starting to take hold – take a small glassful of it every few hours to increase your resistance.
One of our most beloved herbal elders, Rosemary Gladstar, published her now-famous fire cider recipe decades ago. Rosemary has been teaching about traditional herbal medicine for most of her life and has freely shared many of her recipes with the herbal community with a profound effect. One of her most popular and iconic recipes is Fire Cider, which is a simple recipe that is easy to make at home. It is as follows (shared from the Sage Mountain website):
- 1 part Garlic
- 1 part Horseradish
- 1 part Onions
- ½ part Fresh ginger
- Cayenne to taste (just a few grains will do)
- Honey to taste
- Apple Cider Vinegar
Chop fresh garlic, onions, and horseradish into small pieces. Grate fresh ginger. The amounts and proportions vary according to your particular taste.. If unsure, start with equal amounts of the first three ingredients and roughly half part ginger the first time you make this; you can always adjust the flavors in future batches. Chop enough of the first four ingredients to fill a quart jar approximately half full. Put in wide mouth quart jar and cover with apple Ccder vinegar (keep vinegar about two to three inches above the herbs). Add cayenne to taste (just a small amount or it will be too hot!). Let sit two to three weeks. Strain and discard spent herbs. Add honey to taste (add the honey after you strain the rest of the herbs).
Watch a video of Rosemary making Fire Cider here.
There are many ways to be creative with this recipe and make it your own. Some people add in herbs like turmeric, schisandra or hibiscus. Some add in fruits. I enjoy this red-hued recipe of Juliet Blankespoor.Mountain Rose offers a recipe that involves rosemary, and also suggests additions/substitutions such as peppercorn, rosehips and burdock. Kiva Rose developed a variation for sensitive stomachs, sans cayenne peppers and with beautiful additions of herbs like hawthorn and basil. The possibilities really are endless.
So, here’s to this lovely and practical remedy, and to our herbal elders who have passed it down to us from generation to generation! We thank the countless guardians of traditional herbal medicine who have made the knowledge of recipes like this available to us all.