Fire cider or fire tonic is a spicy, vinegar-based natural remedy used as an immunity-booster, cold remedy, for sinus relief and general wellness, particularly during the cold and flu season. Most fire ciders are technically an oxymel, which is a medicinal tonic made with both vinegar and honey. Several key spicy ingredients are infused in an apple cider vinegar base, along with herbs and citrus, to create this tangy, uplifting tonic that will burn the bug right out of you!
Fire cider is best made in the late summer or early fall. This gives you time to steep your fire cider for at least 4 weeks before the onset of cold and flu season. Scout harder-to-find ingredients like fresh turmeric and horseradish at a natural foods store or farmer’s market if your regular grocer does not carry them. If you simply cannot find something fresh, you can substitute dried in a smaller amount. The fire cider recipe below is quite flexible, so enjoy experimenting with your own proportions and additions!
Peel and either grate or chop small the ginger, turmeric, and horseradish. (Turmeric tends to stain everything yellow, so I prefer to chop it.) Slice the hot pepper, onion, and lemon. Peel the garlic cloves and slice in half. Stuff all ingredients in a 1-quart mason jar, and cover with apple cider vinegar. You may choose to weight down the ingredients using a ceramic weight. Screw on a lid (I prefer a plastic mason jar lid) and swirl or shake the jar a few times. Label and date the jar. Store in a dark cupboard and give it a good shake or swirl every day or two.
Fire cider should steep for at least two weeks, but that is a bare minimum. Steep your fire cider, shaking or swirling every day or two for four weeks. After that, strain through cheese cloth, squeezing all the good juice from the cloth, then mix with honey to taste. Pour some in a dropper bottle, and jar up the rest to take immunity-boosting shots of fire cider.
Use your homemade fire cider to ward off colds right away, or as a preventative tonic. Fire cider also helps clear sinuses (similar to a good dose of hot pepper or wasabi). At the first signs of a cold, take a ½ ounce shot of fire cider, followed by a dropper-full every few hours. Continue small doses until you are feeling well again. I will even leave the dropper by my bed when I start to feel an itch in my throat, and take half-awake droppers-full in the middle of the night. For everyday wellness, you can take small shots of fire cider several times a week, or it can be used as a spicy vinaigrette, sprinkled on salads and vegetables; and it’s delicious! I enjoy sharing my homemade fire cider with friends when they are feeling unwell. You can always double the batch, right?
How Long Does Homemade Fire Cider Last?
Well, if you can keep from drinking it all right away, fire cider can last for up to 18 months in a cool, dark cupboard, but may darken over time. I like to use mine within 12 months, and create a fresh batch in the late summer/fall.
Does Fire Cider Need to Be Refrigerated?
The short answer is no. Your fire cider is well preserved in apple cider vinegar, and shelf stable. If you prefer to take the shots cold, refrigeration is an option, but not at all necessary. Enjoy making this home remedy and the healthful benefits of your fire cider year round. Cheers!
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Sienna Orlando-Lalaguna is the owner and maker behind Sienna Ceramics. She is a foodie, urban gardener, and plant-lover with a background in professional cooking. Her interest in food preservation stems from a love of local, organic produce, and a desire to extend the harvest from season-to-season. Sienna is interested in reviving the knowledge of fermentation, and bringing this ancient process back into modern communities like yours!