Fire cider is a traditional folk elixir that has been lovingly brewed and used by generations of people across the world as a preventative medicine. Although the special ingredients differ from region to region, person to person, and even harvest to harvest, the core recipe remains fairly standard: raw apple cider vinegar, raw honey, onions, garlic, horseradish, hot peppers, and ginger, all combined then fermented for a minimum of two weeks and sometimes for over a month. Some people even bury it for a month or so instead of sticking it in a cool dark place.
Everyone approaches their fire cider making differently. I first learned about it through my friend Lauren who hosted our herbalism group. We all learned the basics together, but when we compared notes after we had each made our own batches, they were all as unique as the creators.
Fire cider is chock full of probiotics, is anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, anti-microbial, anti-viral, and anti-parasitic, and if all that isn’t enough for you, it also tastes amazing! It’s spicy, tangy, and just a bit sweet. When combined with olive oil, fire cider makes a healthy and delicious salad dressing. If you’re a honey mustard fan, you’ll never go back to store bought after trying a homemade fire cider honey mustard.
Alright then, no more stalling, here is how to make it.
- Half-gallon glass jar and lid
- Plastic wrap (to keep the vinegar from corroding the metal lid)
- 1 quart of raw apple cider vinegar (yes it really does have to be raw)
- 1 hot pepper (jalapeño, habañero, or similar)
- 1 white onion
- 10 or so cloves of garlic
- ¼ cup grated fresh horseradish
- ¼ to 1/2 cup grated fresh ginger root (no need to peel)
- Raw honey to taste
Chop the pepper, onion, and garlic, and add them to your large glass jar along with the horseradish and ginger. Add any extra ingredients you’d like, if any. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- A lemon, orange or one of each, chopped with the peel on
- Fresh rosemary
- Turmeric and black pepper (best added together). Turmeric is an anti-inflammatory and one of the best herbs for lung issues. Black pepper enhances turmeric’s natural properties. You can use turmeric fresh or dried (if you use fresh, just grate it along with the ginger and horseradish) and whole black pepper crushed a bit with either a mortar and pestle or rolling pin is best as more of the natural oil found in black pepper will be available that way.
- Berries (cranberries, raspberries, etc.)
- Rose hips (high in vitamin C )
- Hibiscus (high in vitamin C and will turn your brew bright red)
Once you have prepared your core ingredients and added whatever extras you want, go ahead and pour the apple cider vinegar into the jar, making certain that all the ingredients are as submerged as possible. Some may have a tendency to float at first — that’s fine as long as the level of the liquid is high enough that all ingredients could be submerged once they stop floating. Place your plastic wrap over the top of the jar, screw the lid on nice and tight, and place in a cool, dark place for two to six weeks (or you could be really “earthy” and bury your jar in a protected spot outdoors if that’s your thing). After it has fermented, strain the fire cider into a clean glass container and add the honey. Start with a couple of tablespoons and taste as you go.
Using fire cider
The tasty part has now arrived! You can use fire cider as an herbal medicinal elixir by taking a teaspoon every morning as a preventative pick-me-up. It’s also a good way to warm yourself up during the cold winter months. Take up to three teaspoons when you feel a cold or flu coming on. But my favorite way to use it is as a major flavor in my cooking.
Fire cider honey mustard
- 8 Tbsp. whole mustard seeds (yellow or brown)
- ⅓ cup water
- ⅔ cup fire cider
- Honey to taste
- A pinch of salt
Combine ingredients in a glass jar, stir well to ensure seeds are completely submerged, and seal with a lid. Remember to place plastic over the top if the lid is metal. Allow the seeds to soak at room temperature for three to five days, until the seeds have expanded to the same level as the liquid. You may need to shake the jar occasionally during the soaking process. When the seeds have absorbed the liquid, pour them into a blender with honey and salt, then blend until smooth. Store in a sealed jar in the refrigerator.
As amazing as fire cider is, it may not be for everyone, because although it’s “just” a folk remedy, it is extremely strong. People with ulcers or acid reflux may have a difficult time with fire cider, especially if they take it straight. If you decide to take fire cider medicinally, be sure to eat first, since fire cider has too much spice to inflict upon an empty stomach, and follow it with a bit of water to protect your tooth enamel. Use wisdom and enjoy both the product and the process.