Introduction: How to Make (and Use!) Fire Cider
Sour, spicy, pungent, and sweet!
Fire Cider is a traditional remedy rooted deep in folk medicine. Fire Cider as we know it modernly, was developed in the 1980s at an herbal studies school. However, the idea of drinking fermented fruit in the form of raw vinegar, especially that which has been infused with herbs and spices- has surely been around since people have!
Although you can buy already-made Fire Cider, it really feels like a drink that should be crafted in your own home. What better way to honor a traditional beverage and folk remedy, then to put the time and thought into making it yourself! Plus, it's much more economical, and you can control the quality of the ingredients.
This brewed drink was historically used to ward off illness or at least shorten its course. One look at the ingredient list and you can see this concoction is loaded with the most potent anti-bacterial, ant-viral, and anti-inflammatory compounds!
When the sniffles start, blast them away and jump start your immune system with a shot of homemade, home-brewed FIRE CIDER!
Because it will excite your taste buds, many people drink this simply because they enjoy the flavors.
In this Instructable I'll teach you how to make your own fire cider, plus share a few fun recipes for using it besides the traditional way of simply mixing it with honey.
*Please be aware that the information in this Instructable should not replace the advice of a medical professional.
Step 1: What Is Fire Cider and Why Is It So Great?
What's so great about this stuff anyways?
Well, it contains some of the most powerful (and widely available!) medicinal foods around!
With a base of apple cider vinegar, this brewed drink is potent- and here's why:
Onion: high in vitamin C, vitamin B6, manganese, quercetin, and sulfur. The Greeks even used onions to improve the performance of their athletes for the Olympic Games! This pungent veggie has been around for ages and is used in many health-related ways, from putting onion slices on your feet to get rid of a cold, to adding it into a big pot full of simmering chicken soup!
Jalapeño: contains vitamin C and capsaicin: the anti-inflammatory and vasodilator that promotes healthy blood flow. Jalapeños can improve circulation and promote the loosening of mucous.
Garlic: high in vitamin C, vitamin B6, manganese, and allicin. Many studies have shown that those taking a garlic supplement have reduced frequency and duration of illness such as the flu and common cold. It has also been thought that garlic aids in opening the pores in order to reduce fever.
Rosemary: one of the earliest documented uses for this herb is it's ability to stimulate cognitive activity. Although we might think of using rosemary to aid in memory, whenever you improve the function of the brain, you also improve the function of the body and all of it's organ systems.
Horseradish: strongly antibacterial, horseradish also stimulates digestion, gastric secretions, and appetite. It is a known expectorant, and also stimulates perspiration, which can aid in reducing fever and eliminating toxins. Full of a multitude of vitamins, minerals, enzymes and oils, horseradish contains a powerful healing punch!
Ginger: contains gingerols, beta-carotene, capsaicin, caffeic acid, curcumin and salicylate. Ginger has been reportedly used since 200 BC to treat illness and aid the body in an incredible varieties of ways. Perhaps best known for it's soothing effects on the gastrointestinal tracts, ginger is a great carminative (a substance that promotes the elimination of intestinal gas) and and intestinal spasmolytic (a substance that relaxes the intestinal tract).
Turmeric: curcumin is the active medicinal compound in turmeric. This bright-apricot-orange root is loaded with incredible anti-inflammatory compounds and antioxidants. Curcumin has also been said to improve brain function.
Citrus: loaded with vitamin C, lemons and oranges will help strengthen the immune system and purify the blood. Citrus juice has been reported to aid in fever reduction and body cooling by increasing perspiration, and the oils in the skin of the fruit have anti-bacterial properties.
Raw Apple Cider Vinegar: because of it's anti-bacterial properties, apple cider vinegar has been used for ages for everything from preserving food to treating wounds. Raw, un-pasturized apple cider vinegar also has beneficial bacteria cultures. This vinegar has shown positive impact on blood sugar regulation, which is great for overall health!
Raw Honey: containing many vitamins and minerals, this incredible substance has been used throughout history to treat everything from cough to skin infection. It's anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties have been well documented.
Step 2: Ingredients and Equipment
Here's what you'll need to make your own Fire Cider!
Tools for starting the brew:
- quart-sized jar with lid
- plastic wrap (optional)
- cutting board
- sharp knife
- vegetable peeler
- kitchen spoon
Tools for straining/storing the finished drink:
- 1-2 bowls
- fine mesh strainer
- lidded jar for storing
- 1/2 cup chopped white or yellow onion
- 2 medium-sized jalapeños, cut into slices
- 6 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1 spring fresh rosemary
- 1/2 cup peeled and diced horseradish root
- 1/2 cup peeled and diced ginger root
- 1/2 cup peeled and diced turmeric root
- zest and juice of one lemon
- zest and juice of one orange
- 2-3 cups apple cider vinegar
- honey, for serving (optional)
Step 3: Prepare the Ingredients
Each ingredient was chosen for a specific purpose, and prepared in a way that extracts the most healing properties during brewing.
Prepare all of the ingredients according to the following directions:
White or Yellow Onion: (1/2 cup, chopped) remove the skin and chop into a medium dice. Red onion and tender green or spring onions are not as potent, and should be avoided for this recipe.
Jalapeños: (2, medium-sized, sliced) cut off the stem of the pepper and cut it from top to bottom into about 1/4" rings. Do no remove the seeds or ribs, as this is where most of the capsaicin is. Habanero and cayenne peppers are okay to use also, basically anything as hot as or hotter than a jalapeño will have similar health properties. Just make sure you can deal with the heat if you use something other than jalapeño!
Garlic: (6 cloves) remove the outer papery skin and roughly chop or slice each clove; don't make the pieces too small, or they will tend to work their way to the top of the jar and float on the surface. If your garlic cloves are small, use more- there is some wiggle room here for a little extra!
Rosemary: (1 sprig, fresh) leave the needles right on the stem! Fresh rosemary is best, but dried will also work if that is all you have. If subbing dried whole rosemary (don't use powder), use about one tablespoon.
Horseradish Root: (1/2 cup, chopped) if the root is older and with tougher skin, use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin. If the root is young and fresh, no peeling is necessary. With a sharp knife cut the root into a small dice (careful- they can be tough and fibrous!).
Ginger Root: (1/2 cup, chopped) use the edge of a spoon to scrape the tan skin from the root without removing any of the flesh. Chop the peeled root into a small dice.
Turmeric Root: (1/2 cup, chopped) treat this in the same way as the ginger: scrape the papery skin off with a spoon and chop the peeled root into a small dice.
Lemon and Orange: (1 of each, juice and peel) with a small knife, such as a paring knife, carefully filet off pieces of the citrus rind; avoid getting any of the white pith underneath it. When most of the skin has been removed, cut the citrus in half and squeeze out all of the juice into a small bowl. If there is white pith on the back of the peel, use the edge of a spoon to scrape most of it off.
Step 4: Build the Brew
The order in which the ingredients are placed in the jar is only important so that smaller things or those that are most likely to float are placed on the bottom.
In a quart mason jar, add ingredients in the following order:
1. sprig of rosemary
2. chopped garlic
3. jalapeño slices
4. citrus rind
5. chopped onion
6. chopped turmeric
7. chopped horseradish
8. chopped ginger
Gently push the ingredients down to pack them a little firmer, but not too firm. The jar should be approximately 3/4 full at this point.
Step 5: Add the Liquids and Brew
Add the liquids
Pour the citrus juice and then the apple cider vinegar over the top of the ingredients. You may need slightly more or less apple cider vinegar- you want it to fill the entire quart jar almost up to the rim. Make sure that all the ingredients are able to be fully submerged.
The ingredients will float near the top for a week or so. As they become saturated with vinegar they will sink underneath the surface of the vinegar.
Seal and store
If using a metal canning lid, place a piece of plastic wrap over the jar opening, before securing the lid (this will prevent the vinegar from causing the top to rust). Gently secure the lid.
Store your brewing cider in a slightly cool (65-70 F is ideal) place for a minimum four weeks. Traditionally, this jar was buried in the ground in order to keep the temperature stable and also allow the different electrical charges of the earth work it's magic. Go for it! Of course, your kitchen cupboard is a fine choice too. No need to keep this in the refrigerator.
Let the soon-to-be Fire Cider sit and brew for 4-8 weeks.
Step 6: Strain Out the Solids and Bottle
Using a mesh sieve, strain the solids from the liquid (save those now-pickled veggies and consider putting them to use in an Asian stir fry, or chopped up for a zippy pickle relish or tartar sauce!).
If you have a larger sieve, just set it over a large bowl, dump all of the solids and liquid through it, and leave it for 30 minutes to fully strain.
I used a smaller sieve, so I worked in batches. To do this: slowly pour the solids and liquids through the sieve until the sieve is full of solids, and keep holding it over the bowl for 10-15 seconds, or until it almost stops dripping. Dump the solids out into the second bowl and repeat until you've separated all the solids and liquid.
Pour the liquid (that's Fire Cider!) into an air-tight vessel (like a canning jar) and store it in the fridge- it will keep for many months...maybe indefinitely! Ain't nothing going to grow in there! If storing in a vessel with a metal lid, again make sure to lay a piece of plastic wrap over the jar opening before securing the lid, in order to prevent the lid from rusting.
Step 7: How to Use Fire Cider: Traditional and Non-traditional
Traditionally, this drink is used to help get rid of and prevent illness. At the first sign of a cold or flu- take one to two tablespoons twice daily until your symptoms subside. For a consistent immune system boost, take one tablespoon at a time, daily to weekly. A little goes a long way!
Some people prefer to drink this straight, while most prefer the synergistic benefits (and taste!) of adding raw honey. A good rule of thumb is to add about half as much honey to Fire Cider... so if you are taking 1 Tbs Fire Cider, add approximately 1.5 tsp of raw honey (but really, you can add as much honey as you prefer). In a small glass stir together the Fire Cider, raw honey, and a touch of warm water to help mix everything together.
Adding honey really transforms the flavor from tart and pungent to smooth and zingy! I'd highly recommend it.
Or... try some of these fun and exciting ways to use Fire Cider:
Fire Cider Salad Dressing
Use in place of regular vinegar in your favorite salad dressing recipe. The recipe I love is: 2 tsp Fire Cider, 2 tsp raw honey, 1 tsp dijon mustard, 2 tsp olive oil, and a pinch of salt.
Sweet & Spicy Lemonade
Add a spoonful of Fire Cider to a cool glass of lemonade for a fun and spicy kick on a warm day!
Steak & Chicken Marinade
In a bowl combine 2 Tbs of Fire Cider and 1 Tbs olive oil; mix and toss with meat. Let marinade for 1-4 hours. The flavors in Fire Cider go great with both Asian and Mexican dishes!
Fire Cider Bloody Mary
Add a spoonful of Fire Cider to your favorite Bloody Mary recipe!
Fire-y Pomegranate Spritzer
In a glass combine 2oz pomegranate juice, 1 tsp Fire Cider, 2oz vodka, and then top with ice and 4oz carbonated water.
Cheers to your health!