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-
Let’s talk about why fire cider is such a big deal lately.
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.)
If any of this sounds familiar, it’s probably because fire cider has been in the news recently here in the states.
A little company called Shire City Herbals trademarked the name Fire Cider back in 2012, making it illegal for anyone else to sell this popular health tonic using the name Fire Cider.
Many folks who sold their version of fire cider were suddenly breaking the law. This was huge in the herbalist and natural medicine community. Although the term fire cider was coined by Rosemary Gladstar it’s always been used as a generic name among these communities.
Everyone put their spin on what went into it, but at the end of the day, it was still called fire cider.
Until it was trademarked.
In 2014, herbalists formed a group called Tradition not Trademark. They encouraged the boycotting of the trademarked Fire Cider, and they filed an appeal with the Patent and Trademark Office. Shire City Herbals, a small business itself, fought back and sued three herbalists who were selling their own versions of fire cider.
It took a five-year legal battle, but in October (2019), the court ruled that fire cider was a generic term.
This is a huge victory for the natural living community.
I’m sure you’re thinking, “Okay, why? What’s the big deal.”
This is important for a couple of reasons.
There are a lot of ‘fire ciders’ in the herbalist’s community, and what I mean by that is remedies with generic names that everyone knows and uses even if the formula is different. Four Thieves Vinegar is an example. But what happens if someone comes along and takes that common name away?
A brief and overly simplified explanation of intellectual property.
Let’s say you make really good lemonade, so you start selling it. Frank also makes really good lemonade, so he starts selling his too. Only Frank gets the idea to trademark his lemonade. Suddenly, lemonade is no longer a type of drink. It’s Lemonade, a brand. Now no one else can sell their lemonade and legally call it that anymore. So, what the heck do you call lemonade when you can’t call it what it is?
This was the problem with fire cider in the herbalism community.
The other reason this is so important is the fact that we won.
Fire cider being ruled generic set a precedent.
We now have a court case that others in similar situations can point to and say, “See? Another judge has already said that you can’t trademark a generic term, even if the term is only generic in the community where it’s relevant.”
And this is huge in the legal community, where precedent is everything.
Shire City Herbals isn’t some vast monstrous corporation. They’re just a small business trying to protect their product in a huge market. But that’s not how our community works. And I like to think that among the types of folks who would drink fire cider, there’s plenty of business to go around without locking up the name.
Who are the types of folks who would drink fire cider?
Well, you for starters if you’re smart.
This fantastic drink kicks some serious germ butt. 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.
Rosemary’s original recipe requires only seven ingredients that nearly everyone has access to.
- Apple cider vinegar
- Hot peppers
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 Ingredients
Apple Cider Vinegar
These days you can find plenty of anecdotal evidence on the internet using apple cider vinegar for things like treating sunburn, acid reflux, 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 are 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.
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 half-gallon jar with a lid. 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.
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 cayenne pepper (or another hot pepper of your choice and heat tolerance) finely chopped
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. 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.
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.
Here’s a variation I made using the spices from one of my favorite drinks –
Chai Tea Fire Cider
Use the same ingredients as above, but also add
- 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.
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.
Let’s drink to your health.
Speaking of, fire cider is non-alcoholic, but it can make for a great cocktail mixer.
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.
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.
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.