Fire cider is a powerful immune-boosting super tonic that can be easily made by infusing apple cider vinegar! Keep it on hand for colds, flus and other times when your immune system needs extra support!
When I tell people about fire cider, I’m pretty sure they think I’m some kind of kitchen witch who is tossing things like “eye of newt” into my big ol’ cauldron. Just prepare yourself for the awkward stares… and believe me, it’s worth it!
In this post, I’m going to cover some basics, including what fire cider is, a brief background on folk medicine, my personal experience with fire cider, and instructions on how you can make your own fire cider!
Fire Cider: What is it?
On the most basic level, fire cider is a vinegar infusion. Like many folk remedies, there are countless versions of fire cider but they all share the same basic principle. The idea is that the vinegar draws out the properties of the ingredients that you infuse it with to create a kind of super-tonic. Ingredients are chosen based on their immune-boosting, anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties for this reason.
Rosemary Gladstar, the famed and treasured American herbalist, is the person credited with really putting fire cider on the map. In fact, you can watch her make fire cider in this video. In addition to explaining the recipe, she also touches on explaining how body constitution plays a role in the use of herbal remedies. For instance, fire cider is a warming tonic, which generally works best for those with naturally cold body constitutions.
Like any herbal remedy, it is best to try a small amount and see how it works with your body. One of the things I love about herbalism is that it invites us to use our natural intuition and pay attention to how our body acts and reacts to different things. If only we all did this a little more often in our everyday lives!
A word about folk medicine versus Western medicine…
This leads me to the point where I feel like we should sit down with a cup of tea and have a quick discussion about folk medicine.
“Folk medicine” is a term used to refer to medicinal preparations that have been passed down through generations and are generally prepared in the home using basic supplies and plants. Because most folk medicine was traditional sourced from native plants, folk medicine recipes varied greatly from region to region and culture to culture.
Unlike Western medicine, folk medicines have not been “tested”, “proven” or “approved”. You see, in our modern culture, when a new pharmaceutical drug is developed, it goes through years of FDA testing to ensure it meets requirements. Needless to say, this process requires a lot of money. Which is why the pharmaceuticals are a multi-billion dollar industry. Does this testing ensure that the drug is safe? Sadly, no. Many drugs are approved and then later recalled later due to harmful side-effects.
Does a lack of testing of folk recipes means that they are ineffective? Not necessarily. Now, I’m not saying that every folk medicine concoction is effective for everyone in every situation, as that certainly isn’t true. What a lack of testing really means is that there isn’t a pharmaceutical company that is willing to drop millions into a folk medicine recipe in order to have it tested and approved as a drug. Which is a good thing, because the very essence of folk medicine is that it is available to all those who wish to use it.
Nature was never made to patented and sold for a profit.
We use a mix of Western and traditional medicine in our home. I ABSOLUTELY believe there is a time and place for both! But, we take great care with both types of medicine. The main difference that I see between folk medicine and Western medicine is that folk medicine invites you into a relationship with your health. It isn’t backed by money and tests, but it is backed by years of indigenous knowledge and a deep relationship with understanding how nature is a vital part of our health.
This is a stark contrast to Western medicine which we often blindly trust without doing our own due diligence first. All medicine works differently for each and every person depending on their individual constitution, their lifestyle, and their overall health. With herbal medicine, this concept is emphasized and even celebrated. What a wonderful concept to realize that there isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” solution!
With Western medicine, we often believe that a pill is a blanket cure for our ailment. We blindly trust that it will work for us without truly understanding what it is, how it works, and how it might interact with our individual constitution. Side effects have become normal… something you just ignore or “deal with”.
However, with herbal and folk medicine, side effects are not something to be ignored. We are encouraged to form a deep relationship with understanding our own bodies and how they react to different things. We are encouraged to gain a better understanding of our health and our bodies and to listen to our intuition.
If that isn’t one of the most beautiful ways to become more self-sufficient, I’m not sure what is!
Now, back to the fire cider! Let’s talk about that time I wasn’t believer, until….
I’ve read about fire cider for years, and it has both intrigued me and scared me a bit! This fall, as I harvested the last of the veggies from the garden, I decide to give it a try! I had garlic, thyme, oregano and peppers running out my ears and figured this would be a great way to use them! I made the cider and stored it away in the fridge for cold and flu season.
When cold and flu season hit, it was a bad one! I watched pretty much everyone from my work come down with some type of cold or flu, and most of them had lingering coughs for weeks! Then, the week before Christmas, I started to feel it hit me. I popped some vitamin C and hoped it was nothing.
By the time I woke up the next morning, it had fully hit me: sinus pressure, sore throat and sinus congestions. I felt like death. Desperate for anything that would help, I started alternating a couple tablespoons of fire cider and elderberry syrup every couple of hours and took 1000 mg of vitamin C. The next morning, I felt considerably better. I continued with the fire cider, elderberry syrup and vitamin C that next day and felt completely normal within 3 days! Incredible!
But, in the back of my mind, I thought it could still be a fluke. Until…
In February, I put in my two weeks at my job. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve had to do, but it was the best decision so that we can continue to move in the direction of our dreams. Needless to say, this was a stressful time which impacts the immune system. Then, my replacement who I had to work closely with in order to train, came down with a dreaded cold.
As my coworker struggled through her cold, popping Emergen-C tabs and Zicam, I realized it probably wasn’t long until I caught it. Sure enough, the next morning I woke up feeling terrible with all the same symptoms she had. I started my regiment of fire cider, elderberry and increased vitamin C again.
I felt completely better and back to normal within two days! Holy wowza – it worked again!! Now, I’m a believer!
This is my experience with fire cider and this is the reason I use fire cider regularly a couple times a week. I don’t believe that it was a coincidence that we escaped one of the worst cold and flu seasons without any illnesses. I truly believe that our folk medicine helped us get though it!
Again, folk medicine and herbal medicine is not a one size fits all. I highly encourage you to do your own research and make the best choices for you and your family. And if you do decide to try fire cider, I hope it has the same amazing results for your family as it has for mine!
Make your own Fire Cider
*This is a folk recipe, so you can really throw in anything you want! For instance, a lot of fire cider recipes include horseradish, but it’s hard for me to locally source horseradish so I skipped it. The amounts are very subjective as well. Below I listed the approximate amounts that I use, but feel free to make it your own! You can also make larger or smaller batches. The amounts below fill a half gallon mason jar and yield about 32 fluid ounces of finished cider.
- Raw apple cider vinegar with the mother: 32 oz. (How to make your own ACV!)
- Ginger root: 1/2 cup, diced
- Garlic: 3-4 heads, diced or grated
- Hot peppers: 2 peppers (increase or decrease to adjust spiciness), chopped
- Onion: 1 large onion, diced
- Turmeric powder: 2 tsp, OR 1/2 cup diced fresh turmeric root
- Cinnamon: 2 tsp
- Oranges: 1 large, sliced
- Lemon: 1-2, sliced
- Thyme: 1/4 -1/3 cup of fresh or equivalent dried
- Oregano: 1/4 -1/3 cup of fresh or equivalent dried
- Black Peppercorns: 1 tsp
- Honey (optional)
- Glass jar(s): I use 1 half-gallon Mason jar
- Wash, prepare and chop all ingredients.
- Layer the fresh ingredients (minus honey and vinegar) in a glass jar.
- Pour the apple cider vinegar over the ingredients, ensuring they are completely covered by the vinegar.
- Cap the jar (it is best to use a plastic lid or to line with parchment paper if using a metal lid as the vinegar is highly acidic and can cause the metal to rust).
- Set the jar aside on a shelf or counter at room temperature.
- Shake the jar daily – or whenever you remember!
- After four weeks, use a fine metal strainer or cheesecloth over a kitchen funnel to strain the liquid into a clean glass jar. I usually save and wash the vinegar bottle and strain the liquid back into it.
- (Optional) At this point, you can add honey, as desired. I leave the honey out and add it into each “dose” of fire cider as I use it.
- Cap with a plastic or lined lid and place the jar in the fridge. You don’t have to refrigerate your cider, but it should help it last longer. Your cider will easily keep for up to a year when stored in the fridge.
How to use your fire cider:
When you are ready to use your cider, give the jar a good shake. There are a couple ways you can take your fire cider. As our cider tends to be particularly pungent and spicy, I generally just take a couple tablespoons as a shot. However, you could also mix a couple tablespoons with hot water or tea and add honey, lemon, cinnamon, etc, to make the mix a bit more palatable. I’ve even heard that you can add it to a Bloody Mary!
- For daily use: Take 1-2 tablespoons daily
- For preventative use: Take 2-3 tablespoons every 2-4 hours until symptoms improve
Do you make fire cider? I would love to hear your favorite ingredients and how it has worked for you! Comment below!