The weather in western North Carolina has been a tease lately. We had our first freeze in October, but since then the temperatures have been leaping up into the 70’s and then back down into the 20’s at night. The plants, trees, and birds are so confused, and so is my sinus! People who I know are quite healthy and active are still getting sick as their bodies try to adapt to the weather patterns, so I am doing my best to boost my immune system.
Along with daily doses of Echinacea tincture, multi-vitamins, and lots of water, I am a fan of the “heat cure” when I start to feel a bit icky. When I say “heat cure,” I mean that I drink hot beverages with herbs that make me flushed and warm – cinnamon, ginger, pepper, garlic…all of these are great at boosting body temperature. I then wrap up under a few warm blankets (and a puppy and a kitty and sometimes an Eric) to sweat it out.
The past few days, my throat has been itchy, my nose has been sensitive, and so I have been taking a daily shot of Fire Vinegar mixed with orange juice. Fire Vinegar is rich in vitamins and nutrients, and really easy to make!
A basic recipe for Fire Vinegar:
This is a rough guide…add what you like, add what is accessible, and make it your own!
Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV): I use raw, live apple cider vinegar, cloudy and unpasteurized and delicious! The probiotics are a boon, and I prefer the flavor over any other store-bought vinegar.
Peppers: Fresh or dried peppers of any preferred variety – I use whole, dried cayenne peppers (seeds and all). When I’m making dinner and have leftover pepper seeds or cores, I throw those in, too.
Garlic: Oh, I could write a long love note to garlic...rhapsodize about the beneficial sulfur compounds, praise the potent antibiotic and antiviral properties, remark on how beneficial for bronchitis and other lung issues it can be. The “stinking rose” also helps with heart health, blood pressure and cholesterol, and also blesses us with its anti-inflammatory properties. It is worth it to note that vinegar (or lemon juice and other acids) can lower some of the garlic’s best properties, so chop your garlic and let it sit for at least five minutes before adding it to the vinegar. This allows the enzymes in the garlic to convert to beneficial allicin.
Ginger: I have already written about wonderful ginger, an herb that I love dearly. The heat from ginger feels like sunshine peeking through the clouds! It adds a different bite to this vinegar blend, and it boosts circulation and opens the sinuses!
Onion: Whenever I chop onions for dinner, I save a spoonful to add to the jar of fire cider. Onions are in the same family as garlic, and contain many of the same properties (but not quite as strong). I’ve been taught that onions are antiviral and help boost the immune system.
Turmeric: Fresh turmeric root is an antioxidant and has anti-inflammatory effects. It adds a bright yellow color to your cider, too! To make the turmeric more effective, add black pepper to your cider. They are a dream team.
Now, that’s a good start. From there, just add other herbs or veggies that you think will help!
There are a few other ingredients that I’ve seen people use in their vinegars, and I have added some to my jar as I come across them! I’ve used reishi mushrooms, burdock root, shiitake mushrooms, astragalus root, fresh thyme, dried nettles, usnea, diced carrots, and orange or lemon peel. Once I come across some fresh sources, I plan on adding some horseradish and wasabi!
Now, you’ll note that I did not provide quantities for you. That is because I make mine completely by instinct and preference. I have a glass jar in the fridge that holds ACV and all the chunky veggies, herbs, and peppers. I strain from that jar into the final bottle for serving and stick it in the fridge.
My jar of fire cider is heavy and half full of veggie chunks, some of which have dissolved into the liquid over time. I don’t pull anything out…just add more into it.
When I want some (or feel a cold coming on), I put a tiny bit in a shotglass, probably no more than a third full, and usually less than that. I fill up the shotglass the rest of the way with water or orange juice and drink it down. The burn is strong but quick, and boy, does it heat up the blood!
Oh, and for you foodies – Fire vinegar also tastes GREAT on cooked greens or as the vinegar in a North Carolina-style BBQ sauce.
More recipes and resources:
Herbal Academy: How to Make Homemade Fire Cider
Free Fire Cider: Against the Trademarking of Traditional Medicine