I know I get irritated when online recipes include an enormous backstory before the recipe itself, so I’m going to just jump right to it here. Fire Cider is a powerful herbal immune tonic about everyone in the natural health community seems to make or knows someone who makes.
Renowned herbalist Rosemary Gladstar can be credited for popularizing the term “fire cider,” and as the tradition continues to grow other natural health proponents like Dr. Joseph Mercola have published their own versions of “fire tonic,” or other related recipes.
It’s in that living vein of experimentation with herbal tradition that I’ve gotten into fire cider brewing myself.
My most recent batch includes the following:
- Chopped onions (2)
- Garlic gloves (3 bulbs worth)
- Chili peppers (6)
- Lemon (1)
- Ginger root (2-4″)
- Horseradish root (1-2″)
- Turmeric root (2-4″)
- Fresh rosemary (4, ~8″ sprigs)
- Thyme (a pinch)
- Cayenne (a pinch)
- Freshly ground black pepper (a pinch)
- Local honey (to taste)
I also needed:
- Four sterilized quart-sized mason jars
- Parchment paper
- Enough apple cider vinegar to cover the preparations
I was able to track most of this down (I grew the rosemary and the peppers, had the other herbs on hand already, and already had the jars and parchment paper) for about $20 at the local grocery store.
I divided the chopped onions, garlic, chili peppers, lemon, ginger, horseradish, turmeric, and rosemary between the jars. I then added the other herbs and spices to each jar. Note: the freshly ground black pepper is important for making the turmeric easier to absorb later.
Next, I filled each jar with the apple cider vinegar, covered the mouth of the jars with parchment paper, then sealed the lids back on. These will all sit in a dark cabinet for the next month, and I’ll shake them on occasion to keep the ingredients active in their new preparation.
When these are finished, I’ll strain the ingredients from the jars, mix the cider with the honey, rebottle, and label.
Dosing & Exploration
Traditionally fire cider is used for immune health. I’ve known herbalists who use it for fighting off colds and sinus infections. If you take the chilis out, it could also be a useful tonic for stimulating digestive health, but leaving the chilis in could irritate your gut more than you want.
Truthfully, dosage feels difficult to gauge. In the rush to make natural medicine look more like Rockefeller-style pharmaceuticalism, I think many herbalists get caught up in wanting to offer very precise measurements and dosages where in reality any sort of work with plants is going to be much more intuitive and varied. There are so many factors we cannot account for: growing conditions, soil conditions, health of the plant material, not to mention personal preferences or sensitivities.
I know some people who take full shots of their own brew and others who do a dropper full or just a few drops into a glass of water. One herbalist I know actually mixes hers with honey and sips at the whole preparation over the course of about three days.
I tend to approach herbal medicine from what I think is a fairly grounded direction. I start low and slow until I can find what’s a therapeutic dose for the results I am hoping to receive. Your mileage may vary, and, as always, consult a physician if you feel like you need medical advice particular to your own journey.