Make Your Own Medicine: Fire Cider 101
Fall is here! Each season has its own unique energetic signature that influences our bodies, minds, and spirits. Fall is a significant transitional period for both our inner and outer worlds; we transition from the warm, social, vibrant energy of the summertime and into the introspective, and nostalgic energy of the colder months ahead.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), fall is associated with the lungs and the large intestine; this explains why ailments such as sinus irritation, asthma flare ups, allergies, and constipation occur more frequently during this time of year. In TCM the lungs also hold grief— and there’s no coincidence that Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.), grief, depression, and fatigue are also common experiences during this season.
Fire cider is a handy medicine to keep in one’s cabinet around this time of year. Many people use fire cider as a daily tonic to ward off colds or the seasonal flu. On a related note— I find that fire cider gives me a much-needed energy boost in the colder seasons.
Energetically, roots like turmeric and ginger can be both grounding and uplifting for the mind, and spirit. Fire cider can be taken as is, drizzled on salads or meals, splashed in a beverage of choice, or used as a condiment. Personally, I like adding fire cider to my tea.
What is fire cider?
A folk remedy that is used to boost the immune system, stimulate digestion, support metabolism, and improve poor circulation, among many other benefits. Fire cider also has the ability to reduce congestion and inflammation in the body. This powerful herbal preparation has numerous antibacterial, antifungal, and antioxidant benefits.
Fun Fact: Fire cider is an oxymel, which is a herbal preparation of apple cider vinegar and honey. These two ingredients make fire cider a wonderful medicine with an extended shelf life. If using fresh herbs, ideally the preparation will be used within 6 months. Preparing your fire cider using dried herbs will allow for a shelf life of up to 12 months in a cool, dark pantry. I like to use fresh herbs and store mine in the fridge for even more longevity!
There are so many wonderful fire cider recipes out there, all of which are a testament to this medicine’s origin as a folk remedy. However, there are a few staple ingredients, such as ginger, horseradish, turmeric, and jalapeño— known for their fiery constitutions— that led Rosemary Gladstar to give this medicine its unique name in 1970.
The beautiful thing about Fire Cider is that there is no wrong way to prepare it! You can adjust this recipe to support specific health concerns (like adding nettles or yellow dock to boost iron levels, or sarsaparilla for joint support). Or simply adjust your ingredients based on what is in season at your local market.
Fire Cider is considered generally safe for consumption and daily use. There are no known side effects in people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or have chronic conditions like diabetes. Nonetheless, always consult a trusted healthcare practitioner(s) before making changes to your wellness regimen. Fire Cider should not be given to children under 12 months of age, as it increases the risk of infant botulism.
FIRE CIDER RECIPE
Shelf Life: 6+ months using fresh herbs, 12+ months using dried herbs (in a cool, dark pantry. Lasts longer when stored in the fridge.)
Dosage: 1 tablespoon per day. Increase dosage to 1 tablespoon every 3-4 hours if experiencing symptoms of a cold or illness.
What you will need:
2 1 quart mason jars and lids
Fresh fruits, roots, and vegetables (listed below)
Fresh or dried herbs (listed below)
- 1 red onion, sliced
- 1 club turmeric root, roughly chopped
- 1 club ginger root, roughly chopped
- 1 orange, sliced
- 1 lemon, sliced
- 5-10 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
- 1-2 jalapeños, roughly chopped
- Unpasteurized Apple Cider (ACV): a tonic with numerous benefits. ACV also works as a prebiotic to support the good bacteria in your gut. Look for ACV with the cloudy stuff at the bottom (also known as the “Mother”)
- ¼ to ½ cup of Local Raw Honey: its components, like propolis, include antiviral, antifungal, and antibacterial properties. Raw honey also includes trace amounts of pollen from the local environment, so regular use reduces your immune system’s sensitivity to the pollen in the local environment
Consider adding the following herbs to your fire cider…
- Rosemary: anti-inflammatory and encourages healthy circulation in the body. Also promotes mental calm and clarity
- Lemon balm: a gentle, yet incredibly versatile mint that promotes mental calm and clarity, soothes stomach upset, and boasts of antibacterial and antiviral abilities
- Tulsi (Holy Basil): known as “The Incomparable One,” this herb is an adaptogen that helps reduce cortisol levels in the body. Tulsi is antibacterial, antiviral, and rich in iron. Tulsi Rama is great if you are looking for an herb that supports circulation.
- Moringa: an incredibly nutritive plant that contains many of the essential and non-essential amino acids that make our bodies healthy and strong
- Nettles: I endearingly introduce this herb as “Nature’s Multivitamin.” This mineral-rich plant nourishes the hair, skin, and nails, gently cleanses the lungs, and helps relieve the sinuses of seasonal allergies
- Rosehips: rich in Vitamin C, antioxidants, and flavonoids that can reduce the risk of developing cancer
- Ceylon cinnamon: helps curb sugar cravings and reduces insulin-resistance in the body. It also rounds out the Fire Cider’s flavor quite nicely!
Making Your Cider
- Chop and slice your roots, fruits, veggies and herbs. Place them into your glass jar. Mind your eyes when chopping your onions and peppers (and consider using gloves to avoid any mishaps later on!)
- Pour the apple cider vinegar in the jar. Cover all ingredients and fill the jar as close to the top as possible.
- Place a piece of parchment paper under the lid to keep the vinegar from touching the metal (this creates rust). Shake well.
- Place in a dark, cool place, and allow it to infuse for 4-8 weeks. Remember to shake the jar daily!
4-8 weeks later
- Use the cheesecloth to strain out the roots, fruits, veggies and herbs from the infused vinegar. Pour the infused vinegar into another clean jar. Be sure to squeeze as much of the infused vinegar from the cheesecloth as possible.
- Add honey to taste, as well as any additional powdered herbs. Stir until well incorporated.
- Label your fire cider with the date to track its shelf life.
- Enjoy your fire cider with loved ones!
Have more fire cider questions? Here’s a helpful troubleshooting article from The Herbal Academy.
What will you add to your fire cider this year? Let us know in the comments below!
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