Traditional Fire Ciders are a specific type of oxymel, an ancient medicine that combines herbs with the soothing combination of vinegar and honey. It is believed this spiced-up version first was named Fire Cider by herbalist Rosemary Gladstar, who adds garlic, onion, horseradish, turmeric and pepper to the blend to kick-start immunity. From there, recipes for Traditional Fire Ciders are often adapted regionally depending on local herbs, culture or family tradition. The below recipe is adapted by Crystal Hamby, a faculty member in the Department of Botanical Medicine, to include culinary herbs for their antimicrobial properties as well as for their flavor. This recipe fills a pint-size glass jar, but she encourages you to experiment with other sizes as well as different herbs. Read more about the benefits of Traditional Fire Ciders.
1⁄4 medium onion, chopped
3 clove garlic, peeled and minced (can double to taste)
2 inch piece of ginger root, peeled and minced (can double to taste)
1 inch piece of horseradish, grated (can double to taste)
1 tsp turmeric, ground
1⁄8 tsp cayenne pepper (can double to taste)
1 tsp dried coriander seeds
1⁄2 tsp dried lemon peel
1⁄2 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp each of your favorite fresh culinary herbs, i.e. rosemary, basil, tarragon, hyssop (or use 1 teaspoon each dried)
1 cup raw apple cider vinegar (to fill half of jar)
1 cup raw honey (to fill half of jar)
Place onion, garlic, ginger, horseradish, spices and herbs in the bottom of the jar. Add in vinegar and honey in equal amounts to fill the jar, probably 1 scant cup of each. If you’re sealing the jar with a metal lid, place a piece of parchment paper or wax paper between the glass jar and the lid to keep the vinegar from corroding the metal.
Shake well, store in a cool dark place for about a month, and shake the jar daily. After about a month, strain the liquid, squeezing the solids with a cheesecloth or fine-mesh strainer.
Your Traditional Fire Cider does not need to be refrigerated. Store in a cool dark place for as long as a year. Take 1 tablespoon a couple of times a day to maintain health.
You can simply take your Fire Cider straight or in a drink with some bubbly water. Or try using it to cook with. Hamby suggests using it straight as a salad dressing or mixing it with olive oil and mustard to make a vinaigrette, or using it as a marinade for fish, tofu and meats.
I make mine with one head fresh garlic, one horseradish root, one hand ginger, 5 fingers turmeric (fresh or at least 1 tbsp. dried), one onion, one orange (zest and juice), one lemon (zest and juice), a few fresh hot peppers and apple cider vinegar (2 quarts about) as a base. I also add about 1 tsp cracked black peppercorns, as I believe it helps boost the work of the turmeric, and I prefer fresh turmeric root to dried but use what you have.
Then I add other things depending whim. So this batch I added thyme and rosemary (coughs, expectorant), dried elderberry (anti-viral, good for warding off flu or maybe shortening duration), dandelion root (just because, good blood cleanser) and jalapeno powder. Sometimes I add dried nettle leaf or raspberry leaf.
I let it steep for about two weeks, then strain off that batch and add more vinegar. This part I let steep as long as possible and label. So sometimes I end up with different long steeped containers with different added ingredients, and have choices if necessary. This batch was focused on respiratory (thyme and jalapeno) but I also have some that is more a general tonic with nettle and raspberry leaf and dandelion root and parsley. I have another bit in a pint jar from a batch that had contained habanero that is a great decongestant LOL.
A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
-Robert A. Heinlein
I don't know if the folklore is true and that this actually has medicinal value, but it seems likely that it does. I just ordered horseradish root. I'm going to plant some of it and make fire cider with some. I figure even if it doesn't keep me from getting Covid-19, it can't hurt, and maybe it will lessen the impact.