Ah, Fire Cider. That tangy, spicy, zesty apple cider-based remedy that comes in as many flavors and colors as there are herbalists, Fire Cider is another wonderful example of ‘food as medicine.’ Cider vinegar may be among the most ubiquitous health items found in the world. Inexpensive, easily made, easy to store, long lasting, versatile, and tasty, it’s the poor man’s liquid gold. Travel the four corners, the nooks and crannies, the circles and spirals of the world–wherever apples grow, you will find all manner of cider vinegar recipes and remedies still in popular use today.
What is Fire Cider?
Apple cider vinegar has been used for issues ranging from gastrointestinal problems to heartburn, and for mental clarity, energy, immune health, and a variety of first-aid measures– and used successfully enough, it seems, to have its uses passed down through time.1Excerpted 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 builds from that vinegar base and usually includes some combination of honey, macerated Onion, Garlic, Ginger… the list of possible ingredients is endless!… to create a sinus-clearing tonic full of spirit that can ward off illness and speed up recovery time.
There is well-documented evidence of the health benefits of many of Fire Cider’s key ingredients such as Garlic and apple cider vinegar, though I am not aware of any scientific studies that have focused on the health benefits of Fire Cider per se.2Davidson, 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. And, of course, there are the accumulated lifetimes of shared knowledge, innumerable traditional cider vinegar recipes, and importance of vinegar-based remedies in many cultures around the world that speak to the valuable health benefits of this elixir.
Traditional Folk Uses of Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)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.
- Leg cramps– ACV is one of the most renowned and effective remedies for healing leg cramps that are due to dehydration, low potassium levels, and overused or stressed muscles. Apply topically directly to stressed muscles and/or take internally.
- Sore throat- As soon as you feel a sore throat coming on, mix ¼ cup ACV with ½ cup warm water. Add ¼ to 1 teaspoon sea salt (start with a smaller amount and add more if needed.) Gargle every hour or more often if necessary. Most germs cannot withstand the vinegar’s acidity.
- 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 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.
- Stomach problems– Mix 1 to 2 tablespoons of ACV into ¼ cup water or apple juice. Drink each morning and before meals. If your stomach issues include diarrhea due to a bacterial infection, the antibiotic properties of apple cider vinegar can help root out the problem. (Note that ACV can aggravate stomach problems for some people; start slowly and discontinue use if your issue gets worse.)
Rosemary Gladstar’s Original Fire Cider
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.
Variations on a Theme
Fire Cider offers a wonderful opportunity to try your hand at brewing up your own recipe. By using my recipe above as a foundation, you can experiment with creating your own recipe that is unique to you. Do you have abundant Black Currants in your garden? Macerate the currants, add the juice to your Fire Cider base– and voila, Black Currant Fire Cider! Did you make a big batch of Elderberry Syrup? You can add your syrup to your cider and create Elderberries on Fire.4Black Currant Fire Cider, developed by Marie Frohlich, and Elderberries on Fire, developed by Nancy Scarzello, are just two of the hundred recipes included in Fire Cider! 101 Zesty Recipes for Health-Boosting Remedies made with Apple Cider Vinegar.
Fire Cider is an entry-level remedy and a wide-open gateway into home herbalism! Many people who make Fire Cider realize how simple and easy it is to make kitchen medicine. And one thing leads to another… soon they are picking Elderberries and making delicious Elderberry syrup, one of the best anti-flu medicines available. Or they are chopping up fresh roots of Echinacea to make their own immune tonic. It’s so fun to see medicine come back into the kitchen and people rediscovering their ancestral herbal roots. I hope you feel inspired to get chopping! Mountain Rose Herbs [affiliate] offers several other Fire Cider variations on their website.
For more inspiration, see my book Fire Cider! 101 Zesty Recipes for Health-Boosting Remedies made with Apple Cider Vinegar. Written in support of the Traditions, Not Trademarks fight to keep traditional remedies free and accessible for anyone to use, Fire Cider! shares favorite vinegar tonic recipes from across our herbal community.