Updated March 1, 2022
Fire ciders are a well loved folk preparation that have been used traditionally to boost digestion, aid healthy body processes, warm one up on cold days, and help to ward off illness. Autumn is the perfect time to make a big batch of fire cider so that it can be used to promote health throughout the winter months.
Fire cider is simple to prepare, but it does need to infuse for some time before it’s ready. Depending on who you ask, the exact recipe varies, but the basic formula remains the same: vinegar + health boosting herbs + honey.
Onion is often used to treat colds, flus, and coughs. It is antibiotic and helps to reduce mucus. It is also anti-inflammatory and is helpful for rheumatic conditions.
Garlic has antiseptic and antibiotic properties. It has long been used to treat colds, flu, and ear infections. It is also an expectorant that helps to reduce mucus.
Ginger is a warming herb that is helpful for treating sore throats, colds, coughs, and chronic bronchitis.
Nettle is a tonic herb that improves overall health and resiliency. It is beneficial for treating fevers or colds. It can also be used to boost the immune system. The root has high levels of sterol, which enhances production of white blood cells.
Thyme is an antiseptic herb that is an effective remedy for colds, flu, coughs, bronchitis. It also is helpful for boosting the immune system and relieving congestion.
Oregano is a powerful antiseptic that can be used to treat respiratory problems, like coughs, tonsillitis, bronchitis, and asthma. It also helps to boost digestive processes.
Turmeric is helpful for inflammatory disorders, like arthritis. It boosts digestion and improves liver function. It also has antibacterial properties.
Lemon is valuable as a preventive medicine. It improves circulation and the body’s ability to fight off infection. It is also an antiseptic and antibacterial that can be used to treat sore throats, colds, flu, and chest infections and to reduce fevers. It eases rheumatism and arthritis. It also helps to detoxify the liver and promotes a healthy digestion.
Aji and cayenne peppers are warming and stimulating. Both are high in capsaicin. This constituent improves circulation and thus helps to bring more blood to the hands, feet, and vital organs. It helps to relieve pain and arthritis. It is antimicrobial and has been used traditionally to help prevent infections. It also relieve gas and digestive problems.
Below you will find the recipe for my version of fire cider. It yields roughly a half gallon of cider. If this seems like it will be too much for you feel free to half the recipe, however, you may just find that you appreciate having lots of this spicy tonic on hand throughout the winter.
How to Make Fire Cider
- apple cider vinegar (about 1/4 gallon)
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 15 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 3 Tbsp fresh ginger root, chopped
- 1 cup fresh stinging nettle, roughly chopped
- several sprigs of fresh thyme
- several sprigs of fresh oregano
- 2 Tbsp fresh turmeric root, chopped
- 1 lemon, juice & zest
- 2-3 fresh aji peppers, chopped or 1/2-1 tsp cayenne pepper powder
- honey, to taste
Roughly chop onions, peppers, & herbs and put into a large jar. (This recipe works best in at least a 1/2 gallon size jar.) You can substitute dried herbs if fresh ones aren’t available, but if so, decrease the amount of herbs you are using. Dried herbs will expand as they absorb the vinegar.
Pour the vinegar over the other ingredients until they are covered by an inch or two of liquid. Cover the jar and let sit for 4-6 weeks. Then strain out the liquid and set aside. Add honey to taste and mix well.
I like to enjoy a shot of fire cider diluted in a bit of hot water on cold nights. It’s a delicious, healthy addition to soups, stir fries, and salad dressings. It can also be taken straight if you don’t mind some spice! I like taking bigger, more frequent doses to boost immunity if it seems like illness is threatening to come on.
Chevallier, Andrew. Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine. 2nd ed., Dorling Kindersley Publishing, 2000.
Grieves, M. A Modern Herbal. http://www.botanical.com
Kloss, Jethro. Back to Eden. Lotus Press, 2009.