Homemade Fire Cider
Published Dec 14, 2023
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How to make fire cider, a fiery tonic made with fresh horseradish, ginger, garlic, onions, cayenne pepper, apple cider vinegar and honey.
Ever heard of fire cider? It’s an immune-boosting tonic that’s been used for decades to naturally protect against cold and flu and ease sinus congestion. How cool is that?! And with cold and flu season in full swing I’ll take all the immune-boosting things I can get my hands on!
// ★★★★★ REVIEW //
“This is so delicious I want to chug the whole jar! I have tried fire cider once in the past and wanted to try and make it myself. I will be making this again for sure.” – Andrea
The base recipe includes horseradish, ginger, garlic, onions, cayenne pepper and apple cider vinegar, but don’t let that scare you! The last step before drinking is to add honey and any other flavors to sweeten/balance to your liking.
So why would you want to choke this down down? First of all, this stuff is liquid gold and actually quite tasty! Isaac and I have grown to crave the stuff. It’s an amazing balance of spicy, sour, sweet, sharp, herbal — basically every flavor I can describe.
Table of Contents
What is Fire Cider?
Fire cider is like a trusty old friend from the herbal world, packed with ingredients like fresh garlic, ginger and turmeric that give your immune system a good boost!
This recipe might feel like a new wave in the ocean of natural remedies, but its roots actually trace back to the old-world traditions of herbal healing. This pungent, spicy tonic is a legacy of the past, born from the hands of wise herbalists who believed in the power of nature’s pantry. Its modern journey started in the 1970s, thanks to herbalist Rosemary Gladstar, a renowned name in the herbal community. She brought fire cider into the limelight, teaching her students at the California School of Herbal Studies about its fiery benefits and immune-boosting properties.
Today, fire cider stands as a symbol of herbal tradition, a concoction that seamlessly blends the old with the new. It’s a recipe that’s been lovingly tweaked over the years but still holds the essence of its original intent – a natural, potent aid for wellness.
Why You’ll Love Fire Cider
- Immune Booster — It’s packed with ingredients known for their immune-boosting properties so it’s perfect for cold and flu season!
- Long Shelf Life — When properly stored, fire cider can last up to 12 months, making it a convenient health boost any time you need it.
- Versatile — It’s not just a health tonic, fire cider can be used in cooking or as a salad dressing.
Ingredients You’ll Need
Don’t be intimidated by the ingredient list! You probably already have a lot of these ingredients in your kitchen and the rest you can find at most any grocery store!
- Apple cider vinegar — be sure to use unrefined, unpasteurized and unfiltered apple cider vinegar “with the mother”. I always buy Bragg’s apple cider vinegar. If you’re interested check out all the health benefits of apple cider!
- Horseradish — helps alleviate sinus congestion and headaches (source). Fresh horseradish is best if you can find it! I was able to find fresh horseradish root in the produce section at my local Kroger and Whole Foods. You can also probably find it in local Asian markets. If you can’t find fresh horseradish root anywhere you can use prepared horseradish like this Gold’s prepared horseradish. Just make sure if you’re using prepared that it doesn’t have a ton of added ingredients!
- Ginger — adds a warm, spicy kick that’s also great for digestion and nausea (source). Fresh ginger root is ideal for its potent flavor and health benefits. While peeling the ginger is an option, it’s not necessary since it will be steeping in the mixture. If you choose to peel it, simply use the edge of a spoon or vegetable peeler to scrape off the skin.
- Turmeric — the golden root known for its anti-inflammatory properties (source). I recommend using fresh turmeric root for the best results, but if you can’t find any you can use 1 Tablespoon of turmeric powder instead. Similar to fresh ginger, you can peel the fresh turmeric root, but it’s not essential as it will be infused in the cider. If peeling, do so gently, as its color can stain easily and the skin is quite thin.
- Garlic — we’re using 10 garlic cloves in this recipe which adds a bold, pungent flavor and is known for its antimicrobial and antibacterial properties (source).
- Onion — you’ll need a full, chopped yellow onion for this recipe, which offers a slightly sweet and aromatic quality. I recommend using a white or yellow onion, but if you only have red onion on hand that will work.
- Jalapeño — for that extra zing and heat. Fresh jalapeños with their seeds are preferred, but you can remove the seeds if desired based on your spice tolerance.
- Lemon — brightens up the mix with its citrusy tang. We’re using both the zest and juice for maximum flavor.
- Rosemary — its earthy, piney flavor adds a nice depth to this tonic. I used dried rosemary for this recipe, but if you have fresh rosemary sprigs on hand, use that!
- Cayenne pepper — a little goes a long way to add heat and improve circulation (source). Adjust according to your spice preference.
- Raw honey — this is added at the end before drinking. It balances the spice and adds natural sweetness. Raw honey is recommended as it’s a great source of antioxidants, can help with digestion and has antibacterial and antifungal properties (source). If you need to make this tonic vegan you can use maple syrup or agave as a substitute for the honey. Just note that it won’t have the same nutritional benefits that raw honey does!
How to Make Fire Cider
Step 1: Add ginger, horseradish, onion, garlic, jalapeño peppers, lemon zest and juice, rosemary, turmeric and cayenne powder to a quart-sized mason jar or similar size jar. Pour apple cider vinegar in the jar until all the ingredients are fully covered and the vinegar reaches the top of the jar. Cover and and shake the jar to combine all the ingredients. Store in a dark, cool place for 4-6 weeks, remembering to shake the jar a few seconds every day.
Step 2: After one month, use a mesh strainer or cheesecloth to strain out the solids, pouring the vinegar into a clean jar. Be sure to squeeze out as much of the liquid as you can. This stuff is liquid gold! Add honey to the liquid and stir until incorporated. Taste your fire cider and add more honey if needed until you reach your desired sweetness.
Homemade Fire Cider Tips
- Top with enough ACV: Make sure all your ingredients are covered with the apple cider vinegar to prevent spoilage.
- Cover properly: If using a metal lid make sure to use a piece of natural parchment paper under the lid to keep the vinegar from touching the metal because it could cause the metal to corrode. Or use a plastic lid if you have one.
- Fresh is best: Fresh ingredients are the heart of fire cider. They pack more nutrients and flavors compared to dried or older alternatives. Remember, the fresher the ingredients, the more vibrant and effective your tonic will be!
- Opt for organic: Ideally all of the ingredients should be organic, but I know that’s not feasible for everyone, so use organic when possible and if using non-organic make sure to wash well!
- Store in a cool dark area: Light and heat can affect the fermentation process, so keeping it tucked away helps maintain its quality.
- Shake daily: I suggest shaking your fire cider daily, but if not daily then every few days! This helps to evenly distribute the ingredients.
- Let sit 4-6 weeks: For the best results you’ll want to let it sit for 4-6 weeks to give it time to ferment. The longer you wait, the more potent and pungent it will be.
- Add sweetness to taste: Towards the end of the process is when you’ll add in your raw honey. Feel free to adjust to taste depending on how sweet/spicy you want your tonic.
- Squeeze properly: Be sure to squeeze out as much of the liquid as you can using a cheesecloth or mesh strainer. This stuff is liquid gold! The solids can be used in a stir-fry or you can compost/discard them.
Fire Cider Health Benefits
Beyond the flavor, it’s packed with numerous health benefits (hence why it’s called a folk remedy). I swear by it as an immune booster and drink extra when I’m starting to feel like I’m coming down with something. Here are some of the many health benefits of fire cider:
- Immune-boosting: Ingredients like garlic, onion and ginger have natural antibacterial and antiviral properties, making fire cider a popular choice for boosting the immune system, especially during cold and flu season. (Source)
- Aiding digestion: The apple cider vinegar and ginger in fire cider can help improve digestion and settle an upset stomach. (Source)
- Improving circulation: Spices like cayenne pepper are known to stimulate blood flow, potentially enhancing circulation and contributing to overall cardiovascular health. (Source)
- Anti-inflammatory: Ingredients like turmeric, ginger, garlic and cayenne all possess anti-inflammatory properties, which can help reduce inflammation in the body. (Source)
- Congestion relief: Horseradish, garlic, cayenne, ginger and turmeric are all said to help clear sinus congestion. (Source)
How to Use Fire Cider
There are soooo many ways to enjoy this immune-boosting elixir. I’m excited to make my way through this list!
- Take a shot (about 1-2 Tablespoons) straight up.
- If it’s too potent for you or you’re worried about your tooth enamel you can dilute it with warm water, juice or apple cider.
- Use the fire cider to make a delicious homemade salad dressing — I need to try this asap!
- Add to fried rice or cauliflower fried rice.
- Use in Bloody Marys — alcoholic or not!
- Drizzle over steamed or roasted veggies like roasted cauliflower or roasted carrots.
- Use as a marinade for any protein like tofu, fish or chicken.
- Add to a soup or chili. It would be the perfect addition to this detox soup!
While the main ingredients we’re using all possess plenty of health benefits, that doesn’t mean you can’t switch the ingredients up for something else that suits your taste buds. Here are some ideas:
- Citrus: Besides lemon, try adding orange or grapefruit zest and juice for a different citrus twist and additional vitamin C.
- Spicier: This fire cider already packs in a spicy punch, but if you want even more you can add crushed red pepper, more cayenne pepper or use hotter peppers like habanero.
- Additional ingredients: Add other immune-boosting ingredients like cinnamon, echinacea, astragalus or elderberry for extra benefits.
How to Store Fire Cider
Once you’ve made your batch of fire cider, storing it properly is key to preserving its potency and flavor. After straining, transfer it to a clean, airtight glass container. Mason jars or glass bottles with secure lids work perfectly.
It can be stored either at room temperature (just make sure it’s in a cool, dark place away from the sun) or in the refrigerator. Fire cider should last about 6 months at room temperature and up to 1 year in the fridge. Before each use, give the fire cider a good shake. This helps redistribute all the flavors and ingredients that may have settled at the bottom.
Tip! I recommend labeling your fire cider with the date you made it to keep track of how old it is.
Typically, fire cider should infuse for 4-6 weeks. The longer it sits, the more potent the flavors become.
Yes, you can use the strained solids in cooking. They’re great added to stir-fries, soups or even as a spicy condiment.
Fire cider is generally safe, but those with certain health conditions, pregnant women, or individuals on specific medications should consult a healthcare provider before use (source).
Many people take a small amount daily as a preventative tonic, but it’s always best to listen to your body and adjust as needed.
There’s no specific best time of the day to take fire cider. Some prefer it in the morning for an energizing start, while others take it with meals for digestive benefits.
It’s not recommended to drink fire cider on an empty stomach due to its high acidity and spice level.
It should be just fine! It might just be messy/sticky to strain.
It’s recommended, but not required to shake it daily. I’d just make sure to shake it up every few days or at least once a week to ensure that the ingredients get distributed evenly throughout the tonic.
More Immune-Boosting Drinks
- ½ cup organic ginger root, freshly peeled and grated
- ½ cup freshly grated horseradish root
- 1 medium organic onion, chopped
- 10 cloves organic garlic, crushed or chopped
- 2 organic jalapeño peppers, chopped
- 1 organic lemon, zest and juice
- 2 Tablespoons dried rosemary leaves
- 1 Tablespoon turmeric powder, or 2 Tablespoons freshly grated organic turmeric root
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne powder
- organic unfiltered apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup organic raw honey, or to taste
- Add ginger, horseradish, onion, garlic, jalapeño peppers, lemon zest and juice, rosemary, turmeric and cayenne powder into quart-sized jar.
- Pour apple cider vinegar in the jar until all the ingredients are fully covered and the vinegar reaches the top of the jar. You want to be sure all the ingredients are covered to prevent spoilage.
- Use a piece of natural parchment paper under the lid to keep the vinegar from touching the metal, or use a plastic lid if you have one. Shake jar to combine all the ingredients and store in a dark, cool place for 4-6 weeks, remembering to shake the jar a few seconds every day.
- After one month, use a mesh strainer or cheesecloth to strain out the solids, pouring the vinegar into a clean jar. Be sure to squeeze out as much of the liquid as you can. This stuff is liquid gold! The solids can be used in a stir-fry or you can compost/discard them.
- Add honey to the liquid and stir until incorporated. Taste your fire cider and add more honey if needed until you reach your desired sweetness.
- Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator or in a cold, dark place. Drink 1-2 Tablespoons when needed.
- Feel free to make this recipe your own with optional add-ins like cinnamon, orange and grapefruit.
- Recipe inspired and adapted from Mountain Rose Herbs.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.