Fire Cider (or fire vinegar) is an herb and veggie-infused vinegar. The spicy tonic is rich in vitamins and nutrients, and really easy to make!
The weather in western North Carolina can be a tease. We had our first freeze in early October and since then the temperatures have been leaping up into the ’70s and then back down into the ’20s at night. The plants, trees, and birds are so confused, and so are my sinuses! Even people who are quite healthy and active can still get sick as their bodies try to adapt to extreme weather patterns, so it is a good idea to boost your immune system with nourishing tonics.
We use daily doses of echinacea tincture, vitamin D3, multi-vitamins, and lots of water to keep healthy in the fall, but we are also big fans of the “heat cure” as an ally for when you start to feel a bit icky. When I say “heat cure,” I mean drinking hot beverages with warming herbs that get you all flushed and warm. Cinnamon, ginger, pepper, garlic…all of these common kitchen herbs are great at boosting body temperature. Wrap up tight in a few warm blankets, rest on a heating pad, and sweat it out!
When your throat is itchy and your nose feels sensitive, take a daily shot of Fire Vinegar. Depending on how you make it, it can end up being really spicy. If you are worried about the heat or the vinegar being harsh on your belly, add some orange juice or other sweet juice to the fire vinegar. The sugars make a big difference!
A basic recipe for Fire Vinegar:
All you need to start is a jar. I started out with a wide-mouth Ball jar, but you can make as little or as big a batch as you prefer. Vinegar will corrode metal jar lids over time, so put a bit of plastic wrap between the jar and the lid.
Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV): Use raw, live apple cider vinegar, the kind that is cloudy and unpasteurized. Not only is it delicious, but the probiotics in the live vinegar are well worth any extra cost.
Peppers: Fresh or dried peppers of any variety you prefer – I use whole, dried cayenne peppers (seeds and all). Leftover pepper pieces and seeds from prepping dinner get tossed in the jar, 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 eases the tummy, 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.
Those are the basics, friends. From there, add other herbs or veggies that you think will help!
There are a few other ingredients that I’ve seen people use in their vinegar, and I have added some to my jar as I come across them! I’ve also been known to use:
- Reishi mushrooms
- Burdock root
- Shiitake mushrooms
- Astragalus root
- Fresh thyme
- Dried & fresh nettles
- Calendula flowers
- Lemon peel
You’ll note that I did not provide exact quantities. That is because I make mine completely by instinct and personal preference. I have a glass jar in my fridge that holds ACV and all the chunky veggies, herbs, and peppers. I strain fire vinegar from that jar into smaller bottles for serving or sharing. Otherwise, it just lives in the back of the fridge and marinates.
My jar of fire cider is heavy and half full of root and veggie chunks, some of which have dissolved into the liquid over time. I don’t pull anything out…just add more to it.
When I want some (or feel a cold coming on), I pour a tiny bit of fire cider in a shot glass, no more than a third full. I fill up the shot glass the rest of the way with orange juice and drink it down. The burn is strong but fades quickly.
Oh, and a tip for you foodies – Fire vinegar 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