With its well-balanced blend of hot, spicy, and pungent flavors, Fire Cider is not only pleasantly delicious but also a powerful blend of medicinal herbs. The original formula contained Garlic, Onions, Horseradish root, Ginger root, hot Peppers, sometimes Turmeric, and often Echinacea; all powerful immune enhancers that help ward off infections, colds, flu, and bronchial congestion.1Davidson, K. M. (2021, February 19). What Is Fire Cider, and Does It Have Benefits? Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/fire-cider-benefits#health-claims; H. (2021, August 3). Exploring the Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar. Cleveland Clinic.
Steeped in apple cider vinegar and finished with the amber rich sweetness of honey, Fire Cider is the perfect wintertime tonic. My students at the California School of Herbal Studies (where the first batch of Fire Cider was made in the early 1980s) and I found that we could use Fire Cider during the winter, a tablespoon or two a day, to help keep the immune system healthy and to prevent infections. All this, and it tasted good too!
Vinegar, the base of Fire Cider, may be one of the best known and most versatile of home remedies, but there are few scientific studies to back up the claims. However, many people who have tried apple cider vinegar find it effective and claim to feel better. Even my rather conservative husband will take the stand and swear on the good results he’s had using apple cider vinegar for his leg cramps, digestive issues, and for overall good health.
10 Ways to Use Fire Cider and Apple Cider Vinegar for Your Health 2Excerpted from Fire Cider! 101 Zesty Recipes for Health-Boosting Remedies made with Apple Cider Vinegar © 2019 by Rosemary Gladstar, published by Storey Publications. All rights reserved.
1. Daily Elixir
My students and I have found that taking a daily tablespoon or two of Fire Cider during the winter can help keep the immune system health and infections at bay.
Rosemary's Fire Cider Recipe
- 1/2 cup Horseradish freshly grated
- 1/2 cup or more Onions chopped
- 1/4 cup or more Garlic chopped
- 1/4 cup or more Ginger freshly grated
- Cayenne pepper fresh (chop it up) or dried (flaked or ground), to taste
- Apple cider vinegar preferably raw and organic
- Place the herbs in a half-gallon mason jar and add enough vinegar to cover them by 3 to 4 inches. Seal the jar with a tight-fitting lid. Place the jar in a warm spot and let sit for 3 to 4 weeks. Shake the jar every day to help in the maceration process.
- After 3 to 4 weeks, strain out the herbs, reserving the liquid. Warm the honey (so that it will mix in well) and add it to the vinegar, to taste. "To taste" means that your Fire Cider should be hot, spicy and sweet.
- Bottle, label and enjoy! Your Fire Cider will keep for several months unrefrigerated if stored in a cool pantry. But it's better to store in the refrigerator if you have room.
To lower a fever, bathe in a tepid or warm bath with ½ cup apple cider vinegar (ACV) added to the bathwater. Be certain there are no drafts in the room. After the bath, quickly wrap in a warm flannel sheet to build body heat, which will help reduce fever.
3. Fungal Infection
ACV combats various fungal infections, such as thrush and athlete’s foot. For athlete’s foot, combine ¼ cup ACV with a few drops of tea tree essential oil and use it as a spray directly on the rash, and as a spray in shoes and on socks. If the ACV is too potent and burns, dilute with water. It should sting when applied, but not burn. For thrush, dilute the vinegar in water and use as a gargle.
4. Fire Cider Chutney
Another wonderful example of food as medicine, Fire Cider Chutney is a delicious winter condiment. This chutney is great on toast, mixed with rice, veggie dishes, is a favorable addition to soups, or enjoyed right from the spoon.
Rosemary's Fire Cider Chutney
- Make your favorite Fire Cider recipe.
- After the Fire Cider herbs have been saturating in the vinegar for 4 -5 weeks, strain the herbs from the vinegar. The herbs should still be somewhat firm and flavorful. If you wait too long to strain your Fire Cider (some people let it sit for months before straining), the herbs begin to break down and lose their flavor. So, when planning to use the herbs to make Fire Cider Chutney, be sure to strain within 4-5 weeks.
- After straining, bottle the liquid; this is your Fire Cider. Save the herbs (sometimes referred to as ‘the marc’); this becomes your Fire Cider Chutney.
- Add the strained herbs to a food processor or blender and grind coarsely (don’t blend into a smooth paste; just until coarse and chunky). If too dry, add a little of the Fire Cider Vinegar to the mix. I usually add a little more honey to moisten and sweeten the herbs.
- Adjust flavors. You might find it needs a little more honey, or Cayenne or Ginger ~ it’s up to you and your taste buds. I’ve also added raisins, cranberries, and walnuts to the herbs in the food processor and ground them in. They add a deliciously sweet, nutty flavor that balance the hot pungent flavors of the Fire Cider herbs.
5. Hair Rinse
ACV is a favorite hair rinse to be used after shampooing. The vinegar will boost your hair’s body and shine. Fill a bottle with ½ cup ACV and 1 cup cold water. Pour the solution through your hair after shampooing. Rinse with clear warm water. For even more dramatic results, use rosemary-infused ACV: combine ¼ cup fresh or dried rosemary with 1 quart ACV, let steep for 2 to 3 weeks, then strain and use.
Drinking 1 to 2 tablespoons ACV added to a cold vegetable drink or a glass of water will counteract lactic acids building in your body due to exercise or stress. The reason? ACV contains amino acids, potassium, and enzymes that are energizing to the system and help overcome tiredness.
ACV mixed with water and sipped during a meal can help relieve heartburn. Start with a low dose, in the range of 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon ACV in ½ cup warm water, with a bit of honey or maple syrup to soften the flavor. Increase the dosage as needed. (Please note: For some individuals, ACV can exacerbate rather than heal heartburn and GERD. Discontinue if symptoms get worse.)
8. Elderberry on Fire
A warming, energizing concoction, ‘Elderberry on Fire’ combines the best of Elderberry Syrup and Fire Cider. Developed by Nancy Scarzello, an herbalist from Montpelier, VT, this recipe won the 2016 Women’s Herbal Conference Fire Cider contest. If you make a batch, you’ll see why!3Excerpted from Fire Cider! 101 Zesty Recipes for Health-Boosting Remedies made with Apple Cider Vinegar © 2019 by Rosemary Gladstar, published by Storey Publications. All rights reserved.
Elderberry on Fire
- 2 cups Fresh or frozen Elderberries or 1 cup dried
- 6 cups Water
- 2 cups Honey
- 1/2 cup Horseradish root grated
- 1/4 cup Garlic chopped
- 1 cup Onion minced
- 1/2 cup Fresh Ginger root grated
- 1/8 cup Fresh Turmeric root grated
- 3-6 Cayenne peppers
- 3-4 Bay leaves
- Oregano several sprigs
- Thyme several sprigs
- Rosemary several sprigs
- 1/2 Orange organic, thinly sliced
- 1 Lemon organic, thinly sliced
- Apple Cider Vinegar organic
- 1-2 cups Honey
Elderberry on Fire
- 2/3 cup Fire Cider using the recipe above or your favorite recipe
- 1/3 cup Elderberry Syrup using the recipe above or your favorite recipe
- Put the berries in a saucepan and cover with the water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer over low heat for 45 minutes. Stir and mash the berries with a potato masher every 15 minutes to help release the juice and pulp from the seeds.
- Let cool, strain through a fine-mesh strainer or cheesecloth and return the juice to the pan.
- Add the honey and warm just slightly to blend. Bottle and store in the refrigerator.
- Layer all of the spices, herbs and fruit in a half-gallon canning jar. Cover with apple cider vinegar, stir, shake, and let sit for 6 weeks.
- Strain, squeezing out all of those good juices into a large pot. Add the honey and warm just enough to dissolve it. Bottle and store in a cool place.
Elderberry on Fire
- Combine 2/3 cup Fire Cider with 1/3 cup Elderberry syrup, mix well, bottle, and store in the fridge.
9. Stuffy Nose
The next time your nose is stuffed up, mix 1 teaspoon ACV in ¼ cup warm water and drink. The potassium in apple cider vinegar thins mucus and the acetic acid halts the growth of bacteria. For even greater effectiveness, add a few grains of cayenne or gratings of horseradish (but be forewarned- it will be hot!).
10. Sore Throat
Fill a small jar with fresh or dried Sage (Salvia officinalis). Pour in enough ACV to cover the Sage by 2 to 3 inches. Let the Sage soak in the vinegar for 1 to 2 weeks, or longer. Then strain and bottle the vinegar. To use, dilute 2 to 3 tablespoons Sage vinegar in ¼ cup water. Add ½ to 1 teaspoon sea salt (optional, but it makes a more effective gargle). Gargle with this mixture every half hour or as often as needed. (If you have a sore throat coming on and need the gargle right away, you could soak the herbs for as little as 1 to 2 hours, but longer is better.)
As with all good things, apple cider vinegar isn’t for everyone or every situation. Some people find that cider vinegar contributes to rather than improves their indigestion. Heartburn and indigestion are the most common side effects from using cider vinegar; diluting the vinegar before using it is highly recommended and/or adding a small amount of honey or maple syrup to it. If symptoms persist, then discontinue use.
Apple cider vinegar can irritate stomach ulcers and is not recommended for people with stomach ulcers.
While apple cider vinegar can be helpful for people suffering from yeast overgrowth, including vaginal infections caused by yeast, it is important to pay attention to your symptoms. If they appear to get worse after taking cider vinegar, discontinue use.
When using apple cider vinegar, it is generally recommended to dilute it in warm water or juice; undiluted cider vinegar can erode dental enamel and will sometimes turn teeth yellow.4Excerpted from Fire Cider! 101 Zesty Recipes for Health-Boosting Remedies made with Apple Cider Vinegar © 2019 by Rosemary Gladstar, published by Storey Publications. All rights reserved.
Fire Cider is essentially apple cider vinegar blended with the medicinal herbs of your choice. This combination creates a fiery elixir that can support your immune system while also creating potent condiments to spice up meals and vegetable dishes.
For additional Fire Cider recipes, visit our “What is Fire Cider” blog or see Fire Cider! 101 Zesty Recipes for Health Boosting Remedies (Storey Publications). To learn more about Fire Cider’s long, and recently contentious, history, visit “What’s the Fuss About Fire Cider?”