Fire Cider is an immune boost inspired by herbal folk tradition. Noted herbalist Rosemary Gladstar came up with the recipe for Fire Cider in the late 1970s as part of a “food as medicine” concept, encouraging her students and community to bring these nutritious recipes to their kitchens and tables (Gladstar 2019:2). Long favored by the herbal community, Fire Cider has a rich history as a remedy for staving off fall and winter ailments such as cold and flu. Fire Cider is made by stewing unfiltered raw apple cider vinegar, ginger, horseradish, herbs, onion, lemon, garlic, and hot peppers together and finishing that off with some raw honey. While each nutrient-dense element offers significant health benefits, they combine to form a potent immune-boosting cocktail.
There are many variations of Fire Cider recipes, and that’s part of the fun and tradition of Fire Cider. Whether it’s adding local roots of Burdock or Dandelion that offer deep nourishment, or bringing in antioxidant rich Beets or Cranberries, crafting Fire Cider not only makes a healthy tonic, it’s variance brings in personal and community traditions, plants and flavors. Rosemary Gladstar compiled a Fire Cider! book with herbal and food recipes and stories from a wide collection of folks, all connected to a Fire Cider tradition.
Highlighting some of the ingredients in Fire Cider, it’s easy to see why it's so good for you. Raw Apple Cider Vinegar and Raw Honey are the base liquids of Fire Cider and they each bring nourishing elements. Raw Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) is a beneficial carrier for plant nutrients, meaning it extracts valuable phytonutrients that humans can readily absorb. Studies have also shown ACV to help regulate blood sugar and insulin levels (Gladstar 2019). Rich in minerals, vitamins, enzymes and amino acids, Raw Honey is a functional food, meaning it is a natural food with health benefits (Jarvis 1958) In addition to having antibacterial, antifungal, and antioxidant properties, Raw Honey promotes the growth of good bacteria in the intestine.
Fire Cider gets its name from the fiery botanicals infused within. Hot peppers are high in capsaicin and can increase circulation and move mucus. Ginger is warming, and it helps break up congestion and stimulates circulation. Ginger can help move stuck mucus and soothe a ticklish cough and postnasal drip. Horseradish acts as an expectorant and is particularly efficient at clearing sinuses. Onions are antimicrobial, antiviral, immune- and anti-inflammatory, and they are high in flavonoids. Lemons contain citric acid which helps the body’s ability to detoxify, and the bitter peel of Lemon brings an abundance of Vitamin C. Garlic has strong antibiotic qualities, and it’s sulfurous compounds are stimulating, detoxifying and antimicrobial. Garlic supports proliferation of helpful bacteria in the gut, but the pungent sulfuric compound in Garlic is deactivated by heat, making preparations like Fire Cider a perfect way to consume raw Garlic.
Many folks take a shot of Fire Cider daily throughout the Fall and Winter months to ward off a cold or flu. Not only does Fire Cider act as an immune boosting super tonic, it also works as a decongestant. With potent ingredients, Fire Cider helps move mucus in both the upper and lower respiratory tract. It can also be used as a gargle to soothe a sore throat. Fire Cider can be mixed with hot water for a morning or afternoon pick-me-up. If you’d like to try it in the kitchen, Fire Cider can also be used as a replacement for vinegar in dressing for salads or as a marinade or sprinkle for cooked vegetables. However you consume, Fire Cider makes a robust addition to your well-being.
- Gladstar, Rosemary. Fire Cider! Storey Publishing, 2019, pp. 16-23.
- Jarvis, D.C.. Folk Medicine. Ballantine Books, 1958, pp. 99-124.