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How to Make a Batch of Traditional Fire Cider to Boost Your Immunity

A quart jar filled with fire cider ingredients. There is a white kitchen towel sitting alongside the jar.
With 7 pantry staples, you can create this zippy immune-boosting tonic.

If you’re even the slightest bit interested in natural remedies or improving your health, then I’m sure you’ve heard all about the fantastic health benefits of apple cider vinegar.

It seems like this ancient panacea has been used to treat and cure just about everything you can think of over the years.

Apple cider vinegar is everywhere these days. You may have even made it a part of your daily routine.

But unless you start your day with a shot of fire cider, you’re surely missing out on one of the best ways to use ACV.

Oh, come on, don’t tell me you’ve never heard of fire cider!

It’s an incredible health tonic that packs a flavorful punch. And you can get a batch going in about fifteen minutes without even turning your stove on.

Trust me, you’ll definitely want a jar of this around come cold and flu season.

I’m going to show you how to make it. But first a quick history lesson.

Fire cider was created back in the late ‘70s by Rosemary Gladstar and a few of her herbalism students. The idea was to come up with a remedy to stimulate the immune system to ward off colds in the upcoming winter season.

While there were several other popular apple cider vinegar tonic formulas around at the time, Rosemary wanted to create hers using common household herbs and ingredients. Thus, a popular folk remedy and the name fire cider was born. (Gladstar, Rosemary (2019) Fire Cider! North Adams, MA. Storey Publishing.)

Everyone put their own spin on what went into it, but at the end of the day, it was still called fire cider.

Until the name fire cider was trademarked by Shire City Herbals. Suddenly, folks everywhere who had been making and selling fire cider for years were now breaking the law.

After a five-year legal battle that ended in October 2019, it was ruled that fire cider was a generic term, thus freeing herbalists to once again use the name for their own concoctions.

Who should drink fire cider?

Well, you for starters if you’re smart.

This fantastic drink is loaded with ingredients that rev up your immune system. It’s like drinking liquid energy. And it’s so easy to make. Did I mention you don’t even have to turn your stove on?

Because it uses common household ingredients, this folk remedy deserves a place in every kitchen apothecary.

A large jug of apple cider vinegar, a jar of honey, hot peppers, garlic cloves, horse radish root, an onion and fresh ginger root are decoratively arranged on a white kitchen towel.
The original intent behind fire cider was to make it easy for anyone to make.

Rosemary’s original recipe requires only seven ingredients that nearly everyone has access to.

  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Horseradish
  • Hot peppers
  • Honey

Yeah, you read that right.

Now do you believe me when I say it packs a punch?

Don’t worry, it tastes incredible. Sweet, tangy, bitey all finished off with a warming sensation. As the old saying goes, this stuff will cure what ails you.

Health Benefits of Fire Cider’s Ingredients

Apple Cider Vinegar

These days you can find plenty of anecdotal evidence on the internet for using apple cider vinegar to treat things like sunburn, acid reflux, or for regulating blood sugar, weight loss, leg cramps, fatigue, and the common cold.

Even the academic community has started to take notice, and several studies have been conducted studying apple cider vinegar. Such as this one that looks at ACV’s antiglycemic capabilities.

Be sure to use a good quality apple cider vinegar that has the mother. I recently discovered Fairchild’s Apple Cider Vinegar, and I really like their vinegar.

Onion & Garlic

Both onion and garlic are packed with vitamins. They’re both noted for their ability to lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Onions and garlic are potent antioxidants and have antibacterial properties.


This is one of my favorite roots, and I always have some in the kitchen. One of the most significant benefits of ginger is its anti-inflammatory properties. As we continue to learn more about the connection between inflammation and disease, incorporating anti-inflammatory foods into our diets becomes more and more important.

Hot Peppers

The capsaicin in hot peppers has several healing benefits. It boosts your metabolism, satiates your appetite, lowers blood pressure, and aids in digestion. If you can get them, use fresh hot peppers instead of dried.


This root has long been a popular medicinal food. Its spicy heat is used to heal things like arthritis pain, colds, intestinal issues, and even UTIs. In some areas, whole horseradish root is hard to come by. You can use prepared horseradish from a jar just as easily.


Use raw and local honey. Using local honey can help control seasonal allergies. Raw honey is alive with microorganisms that will ferment in the fire cider turning it into a drink that supports gut health.

Now that you have your ingredients let’s make Rosemary Gladstar’s original recipe for fire cider together.

You’ll need a sharp knife; I can’t say enough good things about my Rhineland chef’s knife. It’s beautiful, well-weighted, and really holds an edge. Also, a cutting board and a clean quart jar with a lid will be needed. Put on some music and get chopping!

Depending on how spicy your pepper is, you may wish to wear gloves and be careful not to put your hands near your eyes.

You want everything chopped as finely as possible.

Fire cider ingredients chopped on a cutting board with a knife and a cheese grater -onion, horse radish, ginger, hot pepper and garlic.
Chop to it!

If you have a food processor, this is a great time to use it!

  • ½ cup of grated horseradish root
  • ½ cup of chopped onion
  • ¼ cup of chopped garlic
  • ¼ cup of chopped ginger
  • 1 hot pepper finely chopped, if you have a high tolerance for spicy foods you can add the seeds
A close up of the chopped ingredients for fire cider in a quart mason jar.
At this point your kitchen probably smells like a deli.

Add all of these ingredients to your jar, then pour enough apple cider vinegar in to cover everything plus another 3 or 4 inches. Put the lid on and give it a good shake.

You may wish to put a small square of parchment paper between the lid and the jar to protect the lid from the acid in the vinegary.

Loosen the cap a bit, and put the jar on your counter. You’ll need to re-tighten the lid and give it a good shake every other day or so.

A close up of a jar of fire cider infusing.
It doesn’t look like much, but this jar if filled with powerful stuff.

Let this concoction sit out on your counter for around 4-6 weeks. Then strain it through a fine-mesh sieve or cheesecloth into another jar. Stir in as much honey as you wish to achieve the desired sweetness.

Remember, though; it should be tangy and sweet with a little bite to it. No need to refrigerate, this can sit out on your counter as is.

If you’ve never tried fire cider before, I would suggest making the recipe as is at least once.

After that, go crazy!

If it’s good for you, chuck it in there!

Tinker with the ratios. Use what’s in season. Use what’s local. When I made the batch for this article, I threw in rosehips, pine needles, and turkey tail mushrooms after a foray in the woods.

Spicy Chai Fire Cider

  • 1 whole orange, washed and thinly sliced into rounds
  • ¼ cup peeled and chopped fresh turmeric
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 10 cloves
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 4 or 5 cardamom pods

Follow the directions to age the fire cider, as noted above.

A cutting board with a cheese grater, a bottle of apple cider vinegar, and a jar of honey. There is also an orange, fresh ginger root, an onion, a bulb of garlic, fresh turmeric root, a couple of hot peppers, a chunk of horse radish rook and a few sprigs of rosemary and oregano.
You can throw in everything but the kitchen sink – fresh herbs, citrus, fresh turmeric.

For even more fire cider variations as well as the history and uses of this excellent tonic, pick up Rosemary’s new book, “Fire Cider! 101 Zesty Recipes for Health-Boosting Remedies Made with Apple Cider Vinegar” I can’t recommend it enough.

How to Drink Fire Cider

The easiest way to drink it is just to shoot it. Using a jigger, pour yourself a 1 to 1 ½ oz shot and knock it back.

A small cordial glass filled with fire cider.
Start your day with a ‘shot’ of fire cider.

If you’re new to fire cider, you may want to start with a teaspoon and work up to an ounce, especially if you take it first thing in the morning on an empty stomach.

Let’s drink to your health.

Speaking of, fire cider is non-alcoholic, but it can make for a great cocktail mixer.

A glass of club soda and fire cider on a wooden tabletop. There is a white kitchen towel and a can of club soda and a bottle of fire cider.
Rich meal? Try a club soda and fire cider mocktail.

One of my favorite ways to drink fire cider is to pour a shot in a glass and top it off with club soda. I like having this after a big dinner. It helps to settle my stomach.

A glass mug of hot apple cider garnished with an orange slice, a bottle of fire cider next to it. To the side is a pair of snow boots.
When you come in from the cold, nothing heats you to the bones like a hot fire apple cider.

Pour an ounce or two in your hot cider and enjoy a well-deserved non-alcoholic pick me up. I can’t think of a quicker way to warm up after being out in the cold.

You don’t have to only drink fire cider either. It’s an excellent addition to salad dressings and soups. Use it when you’re stir-frying vegetables. Again, I can’t recommend Rosemary’s new book enough for some great recipes using fire cider.

The book, " Fired Cider" by Rosemary Gladstar and Friends is shown with fire cider ingredients sitting next to it.
Every herbalist should have a copy of this book.

Try to drink fire cider daily during the colder months when the creeping crud is rampant.

If you feel you’re coming down with something, drink a shot every few hours. You’ll soon be on your feet again.

Share a batch with friends and family and teach them how easy it is to make as well. I can’t think of a better gift to give to those you love than the gift of good health.

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Tracey Besemer

Hey there, my name is Tracey. I’m the editor-in-chief here at Rural Sprout.

Many of our readers already know me from our popular Sunday newsletters. (You are signed up for our newsletters, right?) Each Sunday, I send a friendly missive from my neck of the woods in Pennsylvania. It’s a bit like sitting on the front porch with a friend, discussing our gardens over a cup of tea.

Originally from upstate NY, I’m now an honorary Pennsylvanian, having lived here for the past 18 years.

I grew up spending weekends on my dad’s off-the-grid homestead, where I spent much of my childhood roaming the woods and getting my hands dirty.

I learned how to do things most little kids haven’t done in over a century.

Whether it was pressing apples in the fall for homemade cider, trudging through the early spring snows of upstate NY to tap trees for maple syrup, or canning everything that grew in the garden in the summer - there were always new adventures with each season.

As an adult, I continue to draw on the skills I learned as a kid. I love my Wi-Fi and knowing pizza is only a phone call away. And I’m okay with never revisiting the adventure that is using an outhouse in the middle of January.

These days, I tend to be almost a homesteader.

I take an eclectic approach to homesteading, utilizing modern convenience where I want and choosing the rustic ways of my childhood as they suit me.

I’m a firm believer in self-sufficiency, no matter where you live, and the power and pride that comes from doing something for yourself.

I’ve always had a garden, even when the only space available was the roof of my apartment building. I’ve been knitting since age seven, and I spin and dye my own wool as well. If you can ferment it, it’s probably in my pantry or on my kitchen counter. And I can’t go more than a few days without a trip into the woods looking for mushrooms, edible plants, or the sound of the wind in the trees.

You can follow my personal (crazy) homesteading adventures on Almost a Homesteader and Instagram as @aahomesteader.

Peace, love, and dirt under your nails,