Made popular by herbalist Rosemary Gladstar, known as the godmother of American herbalism, fire cider is a tonic that will help keep you healthy and warm all season long. It’s a type of traditional folk remedy called an oxymel. An oxymel is vinegar that has been infused with herbs and foods and then sweetened with honey to be used as medicine. The benefit of fire cider oxymel is to boost immunity and increase circulation in the body.
The “fire” part of fire cider comes from the addition of hot peppers like cayenne but other than that this recipe is very flexible! Fire cider itself is a variation of another popular herbal remedy called, four thieves vinegar.
A little bit of lore: The Legend of the Four Thieves
During the middle ages, much of Asia, Europe and Northern Africa was devastated by the black plague. There was a band of four young boys who robbed the homes and graves of the sick and dying. Yet these thieves never became sick themselves. What was their secret? Once they were finally apprehended they apparently exchanged a small vial of vinegar infused with garlic and herbs for their freedom. They told the authorities that they would always take this concoction as well as place a small amount of it right below their noses before coming into contact with the dead. This became known as Four Thieves Vinegar. Garlic itself is known as poor man’s penicillin for its ability to fight infection.
To make fire cider you will need:
- Large mason jar ( I use a 64 oz)
- 2 Hot Peppers
- 5-10 Garlic Cloves, Crushed (I personally leave a few whole)
- 1 Onion, chopped
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Ginger
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Horseradish
- 2 tablespoons chopped Turmeric (optional)
- 1 Orange chopped or sliced
- 1 Lemon chopped or sliced
- 1 sprig of fresh rosemary or 1 tablespoon dried
- 1 star anise
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 32 oz bottle of Raw Apple Cider Vinegar (with the mother)
- 1/4 cup or more raw local honey
Prepare your ingredients and add them all to the mason jar, except for the honey. Cover all of the ingredients with raw apple cider vinegar. Cover with the lid, making sure to put a piece of either parchment or wax paper under the lid. This keeps the metal mason jar lid from coming into contact with the vinegar. The vinegar needs to infuse for 3-4 weeks. Keep in a warm area of the kitchen away from direct sunlight. Shake the jar once a day. After 4 weeks strain with a cheesecloth, add honey to taste and bottle. It should keep unrefrigerated for several months if stored properly in a cool, dark cabinet.
As a preventative measure I will take 1-2 Tablespoon of Fire Cider for an immune booster, especially during the busy holiday season. If i feel I am coming down with a cold or flu, I will take 1 Tablespoon every few hours until I feel better. It can be taken as a shot or diluted in water. For children it is best to dilute in water or juice and add extra honey if needed.