In support of Fire Cider Awareness Week, we here at Herbal Roots zine have decided to share just how easy it is to make fire cider. In fact, it’s so easy that even a kid can make it!
But first, a bit of background on fire cider.
The Past, Present and Future of Fire Cider
Fire Cider is a term that renowned herbalist Rosemary Gladstar made popular through her many wonderful books, classes, correspondence course and teachings through the years. She chose to share her knowledge and recipes freely with anyone who wanted to learn about herbalism because she cares deeply about keeping the tradition of herbalism going. A fire cider is an herbal remedy that is made with vinegar, much like a tincture is an herbal remedy that is made with alcohol. The ingredients of fire cider can vary but usually the base contains apple cider vinegar, honey, horseradish, onions, garlic and cayenne or other spicy pepper. There have been many variations of the recipe over the years, each herbalist putting their own special twist onto this recipe, adding other ingredients such as citrus peels, turmeric, rosemary, sage, holy basil, goldenrod, prunella, elderberries and other cold and flu fighting ingredients. There is no right or wrong, if it’s part of your arsenal, it’s game for becoming an ingredient, that’s part of the beauty of fire cider! The end result is something that is sweet, sour and spicy, all in one. It warms you all the way to your stomach.
This concoction can be taken straight, added to water or tea for sipping or even used as a food (try adding it to your winter salads for an extra zip). It’s used to help heal people who are sick from colds and the flu, digestive issues, sinus infections, treating people with chronic nausea and many other things. This is the number one herbal remedy that was sitting on our grandmothers’ kitchen shelves all around the world. In fact, it goes back many, many, many generations.
Recently, herbalists all over the country have come under attack for making fire cider. Etsy was notified that anyone selling fire cider needed to remove their listings. This is due to the fact that 3 individuals took it upon themselves to claim the name for their product they make, their own version of fire cider. Instead of simply naming their product by their company name, they trade marked the words “fire cider.” To explain the absurdity of this, it is the equivalent of trade marking the terms “echinacea tincture” or “elderberry syrup” or something else just as common. Not to mention, this is a phrase that Rosemary Gladstar popularized through her hard work in the past 35 years and has been copyrighted in her many books that she has written over the years. These three individuals are trying to claim that they came up with the recipe by themselves and got the name through a friend (who undoubtably had heard of fire cider before, probably through the teachings of Rosemary or someone who was taught by Rosemary).
Currently, the herbal community is trying to help these three individuals to reconsider and give up the trade mark they hold on this name. Why is this so important? Because it sets a precedent. IF this is allowed to go on, what is to stop anyone from trade marking other common terms? We have to hold fast to our traditions and keep them free for ALL to use and share within and outside of the herbal community. If you would like to be a part of this movement to get the trade mark removed, you can sign the petition here and join the Facebook page to keep updated on what is going on here. In fact, there’s even a world wide fire making day scheduled for February 2 that you can participate in. Spread the knowledge about fire cider and it’s many benefits! Kids, you are the future of herbalism and it’s your right to be able to freely make, share and offer your knowledge and remedies to your friends and family and one day, to the world, possibly through your own herbal business! Help us keep this tradition alive and available to everyone.
I truly wish the individuals much success on their product and hope that they will do the right thing. There is room in this community for everyone who wishes to sell fire cider and market it as such.
As I mentioned earlier, traditionally, fire cider is made with a few base ingredients: apple cider vinegar, honey, onion, garlic, horseradish, ginger and cayenne (or other spicy pepper). Let’s take a look at what makes these ingredients so special.
Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) - This ingredient is what gives the sour to the “sweet, sour and spicy” in this recipe. But, ACV is more than just adding a bit of pep to the blend. There are books written on the value of ACV because it’s that good for you. Full of trace vitamins and minerals, ACV supports the immune system, helps digest food, prevents indigestion, eases allergies and can help control diabetes, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, just to name a few.
Raw Honey – Don’t confuse raw honey with the honey substance that is sold in the grocery store. Do your research on the differences, they are too long to discuss in this article. Make sure your honey is from a local source and is not heated during straining. This will ensure all the nutrients of honey are still there. Honey can be applied directly to wounds and burns to promote healing while soothing pain. Honey is also very soothing internally and is great for soothing sore throats and coughs during an illness. Honey is also antibacterial and antioxidant. Darker honey contains more of these actions than light honey. Local honey can help ease the problems of seasonal allergies because local honey contains pollen from the area, the very pollen that causes your allergies. By taking a daily dose, it acts as a sort of natural vaccination, giving your body a minute dose that can be tolerated and grown accustomed to, helping your body get the ability to fight off the invading pollen from the air. And, just like ACV, honey can also help to lower cholesterol when taken daily. Those with diabetes should be cautious though as honey IS a sugar, even though it’s more natural.
Onion - Onion is quite nutritious and contains vitamins A, B6, C, Folate and the minerals Calcium, Chromium, Copper, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Phosphorus, Potassium, Selenium, Sodium and Zinc. Medicinally, Onion is analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, diaphoretic, diuretic, expectorant, stimulant and vulnerary. Onion is great for treating coughs, colds, the flu and many other illnesses.
Garlic – Known as the poor man’s antibiotic, Garlic is used extensively in times of illness. Medicinally, Garlic is diaphoretic, diuretic, expectorant, immune stimulant, antibacterial, antifungal, alterative, antispasmodic, cholagogue, vulnerary and vermifuge. He can be used for treating strep throat, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, fevers, boost the immune system, candida and more.
Horseradish – I LOVE Horseradish for all things sinus, he really gets the sinus passages opened up and loosens up the mucus to help with draining. At the same time, he kills the infection. Medicinally, he is antibacterial, antibiotic, anticancer, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-parasitic, antiseptic, diaphoretic, diuretic, expectorant, rubefacient, stimulant (gastric and immune), tonic and vermifuge.
Ginger – Ginger is very warming. We use Ginger for treating nausea, stimulating circulation, treating sore throats and coughs, and aiding in digestion. Ginger is antimicrobial, antioxidant, antispasmodic, carminative, diaphoretic, emmenagogue, rubefacient and stimulating.
Cayenne – Cayenne is also very warming and stimulating to the circulatory system. Cayenne has been used to save people’s lives during a heart attack, he’s that powerful. Cayenne improves circulation by preventing blood from clotting. He also stimulates the brain to secrete endorphins, relieves pain, and treats arthritis, high cholesterol, colds, coughs, the flu, dysentery and sore throats. Cayenne is alterative, antioxidant, antiseptic, antiviral, astringent, carminative, diaphoretic, expectorant, stimulating and tonic.
As you can see, these are some very powerful ingredients! All are very warming and stimulating and really help the body to kick what ails you. Fire cider sounds like snake medicine but with one small difference: it actually works! It’s no wonder so many people consider fire cider to be part of their daily supplement for keeping themselves healthy.
This was just a quick run down of what each of these herbs can do. If you’d like to learn more about them, there are back issues available on Apple, Garlic, Ginger, Onion and Horseradish. This December, the issue will be all about Cayenne. I have put together a Fire Cider Collection that includes all 5 of past issues plus information about the history of fire cider and instructions on how to make it. For more information, go to our Fire Cider Collection page. A copy of the Fire Cider ebook (without the 5 issues) is also available for free on that page or click here to download it now.
The Not-So-Secret Recipe
And now, how to make fire cider! I highly recommend watching Rosemary’s video on how she makes fire cider put together by Learning Herbs. You can see it right here. The following is the recipe written out, with my added suggestions but play with the recipe and make it your own!
First, assemble your ingredients. Fresh is best. You will need:
2-3 heads of garlic
1 horseradish root
1 small – medium piece of ginger root
Cayenne pepper (can be dried, only takes a tiny amount) or other hot pepper such as habanero
Apple Cider Vinegar
Optional: other ingredients to make it your own special blend such as citrus peels, turmeric, rosemary, sage, goldenrod, prunella, elderberries
To process, you will need:
A cutting board
A sharp knife
A quart jar to hold all your ingredients
Waxed paper if your jar lid is metal (it will react with the vinegar and corrode the lid)
Got everything assembled? Ok, let’s get started!
Begin by chopping up your onion, grating your horseradish and smashing your garlic. You’ll want to add equal parts of garlic, horseradish and onion and then add about 1/2 part of ginger.
Add these bits to your jar. Add in anything else you want to put in to make your fire cider special: freshly grated turmeric, a few organic lemon peels, a handful of sage leaves, 1/2 cup dried elderberries, a few sprigs of rosemary. It’s up to you, you don’t have to add any extras if you don’t want to!
Place a piece of waxed paper over the top of the jar and then screw on your lid. Shake well and don’t forget to label your jar! Leave on the countertop for 4 weeks and shake daily.
Once the 4 weeks is up, strain off the spent herbs and compost them. Add honey and stir. Taste and add more if you’d like it sweeter. Generally I find 1 part honey to 3 parts infused vinegar is all that is needed. Stir to completely incorporate the honey and now you’ve got fire cider! Pour it into smaller bottles and share with your friends, family and community! I’ve created a label and recipe card that you can print off here to attach to each bottle.
Watch Jaden make fire cider on our youtube channel.
Hey kids, want to learn more about the healing properties of herbs? Why not start off with issues on Apple, Garlic, Ginger, Onion and Horseradish? You can also download our entire Fire Cider Collection for a reduced rate. Or subscribe for a full year of great herbs! (We’ll be learning all about Cayenne in December!) Each issue is full of recipes, crafts, stories, songs, games, puzzles and other activities to making learning about herbs fun!
We drink to our health! Long live fire cider!
Download our free Fire Cider Making eBook right here.
Purchase the Herbal Roots zine Fire Cider Collection here.