I describe my first sip of fire cider as an explosion of tastes, a 10 on the rock your world scale. The little brown bottle I purchased from a health food store yielded a golden liquid that had been steeped for weeks in a glorious array of fiery and functional foods, all with noted health properties. Having whet my appetite on just one tablespoon, I knew I had to find out more.
The allure of fire cider is decades old and fomented by herbalists around the world who concocted what has been called the people’s medicine. Considered a homeopathic tonic that boosts the immune system and claims antiviral and anti-bacterial properties, it is often used as part of a daily health regime and to ward off cold and flu symptoms.
Fire cider proponents suggest that it can cure a wide array of ailments, and though further studies are warranted to conclusively demonstrate many of these, there is no question that the potent core ingredients – apple cider vinegar, roots of horseradish, turmeric, and ginger, hot peppers, garlic, and other herbs – share at least one important medicinal property: they are simply excellent for good health.
- Research on apple cider vinegar shows that in healthy non-diabetics, as little as half a tablespoon taken with a high glycemic meal can reduce blood sugar levels by more than 50%.
- Turmeric, the bright orange-yellow root, is rich in curcumin, which boasts antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Clinical studies suggest that it is a helpful aid for indigestion, ulcerative colitis, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, seasonal allergies, and depression.
- Ginger root, long known as a remedy for nausea and possibly heartburn, has also been shown to moderately decrease osteoarthritis pain.
- Horseradish, that pungent decongesting root (along with its cousin, wasabi), contains a potent compound, allyl isothiocyanate (AITC), shown to inhibit the growth of bacteria and fungi known to cause food poisoning.
- Garlic, a composite of over 200 chemicals, may help reduce serum cholesterol and slightly reduce blood pressure in hypertensive individuals.
The list goes on…onions, fresh herbs, cinnamon, hot peppers, honey, citrus…all adding to the synergistic blend. While fire cider may not be a panacea for all that ails, we can be encouraged by the widely agreed-upon health benefits of its ingredients, all of which make it an excellent elixir for both fighting illness and maintaining daily health. Commercial versions can often be purchased in holistic and health food stores, but there’s nothing stopping you from making it from scratch. With winter approaching, it might be the right time to give this recipe a trial run.
- 4 cups horseradish root, grated
- 2 cups ginger root, grated
- 4 ounces turmeric root, peeled and finely diced
- 1 large onion, peeled and diced
- 1 orange, thinly sliced with peel
- 1 lemon, thinly sliced with peel
- 16 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
- 2 habanero peppers
- 1/2 cup parsley sprigs
- 4 rosemary sprigs
- 2 thyme sprigs
- 2 teaspoons black peppercorns
- 4 cinnamon sticks
- 2 quarts
raw apple cider vinegar (at least 5% acidity)
- 1/2 cup
raw honey (or more, to taste)
- 4 one quart jars with lids
- parchment paper
- Wash and peel horseradish, ginger, and turmeric. Separately grate the horseradish and ginger roots by hand or in a food processor. Finely chop the turmeric and peeled garlic cloves. Roughly chop the onion. Thinly slice orange and lemon. Halve the Habanero peppers and remove seeds.
- As you prepare the ingredients, layer equal portions into 4 one-quart jars along with sprigs of parsley, rosemary, and thyme/mint. Pour the raw apple cider vinegar in over the contents, allowing it to settle in through the crevices. Add more until all the contents are entirely submerged. (This may require more than the 2 quarts listed above.)
- Place 2 layers of parchment paper over the rim of the jar, then screw the lid tightly in place. Store the mixture in a dark, cool place and allow it to marry and infuse for 4 weeks, shaking once daily. After 2 weeks, open jars and replace parchment paper. Reseal and continue to age and marinate the mixture.
- After 4 weeks, pour the contents into a muslin- or cheesecloth-lined colander positioned over a stable pot. Let it drain for 30 minutes, then gather the corners of cloth and twist and squeeze until all liquid is released. When fully strained, add honey to taste and pour into sterilized bottles or jars. May store in darkened area or refrigerator up to a year. Shake well before using.