The answer to cold season? Get Fired Up!

Feeling chilled? Wish you had a little summer heat to warm your winter soul?
Fire cider.
If you’ve got that feeling that the latest virus is about to get it’s grip on you, bust out the…
Fire cider.
Want to be a little bit of a rebel?*
Fire cider.
What is Fire Cider? A spicy, warming, immune boosting winter tonic like no other!
This traditional herbal recipe is made from the hot, hot peppers of late summer, the spicy root of horseradish, and the pungent garlic, ginger and onions in your vegetable bin, plus a healing boost from raw honey, apple cider vinegar and herbs.
Fire cider is kitchen medicine at its best.
As a remedy, a generous spoonful or shot glass full at the first sign of cold revs up your circulation and immune defenses. Then you can continue to take a spoonful every few hours until you’ve kicked that cold. You could also sip a bit daily as nutritious, warming tonic.
I make it for our family every fall and sometimes again mid-winter if our stash has been depleted (like now). Just looking at these chili pictures I took at the market in Seattle in September, warms me right up (they really were that bright!). Isn’t it so amazing that the heat of summer can be captured in a jar, taken out in winter, and used to fend off winter illness? I just love that.
Here’s the basic recipe from herbalist Rosemary Gladstar, but feel free to experiment by adding citrus zest or herbs of your choice:
Fire Cider
½ cup grated fresh horseradish root½ cup or more fresh chopped onions¼ cup or more chopped garlic¼ cup or more grated gingerChopped fresh or dried cayenne pepper ‘to taste’. Can be whole or powdered. ‘ To Taste’ means should be hot, but not so hot you can’t tolerate it. Better to make it a little milder than too hot; you can always add more pepper later if necessary.Optional ingredients; Turmeric, Echinacea, cinnamon, etc.
Place herbs in a half-gallon canning jar and cover with enough raw unpasteurized apple cider vinegar to cover the herbs by at least three to four inches. Cover tightly with a tight fitting lid.Place jar in a warm place and let sit for three to four weeks. Best to shake every day to help in the maceration process.After three to four weeks, strain out the herbs, and reserve the liquid.Add honey ‘to taste’. Warm the honey first so it mixes in well. “To Taste’ means your Fire Cider should taste hot, spicy, and sweet. “A little bit of honey helps the medicine go down……”Rebottle and enjoy! Fire Cider will keep for several months unrefrigerated if stored in a cool pantry. But it’s better to store in the refrigerator if you’ve room.
If you don’t have the mojo to make your own remedy, that’s okay too—these folks make fine versions you can purchase.
I hope I’ve peaked your curiosity and that this becomes a ritual for you too!
*There is a current court battle ensuing because a company wants exclusive rights to use “fire cider” for their product, so in making Fire Cider in my own kitchen, I consider it a small act of empowerment, and carrying on the tradition of herbal medicine as the people’s medicine. Nobody owns the sole right to “chicken soup” or “mashed potatoes” and so they ought not able to own/trademark a traditional herbal recipe either. All you need to know about the tradition of this remedy, the legal fight, and lots more about this wonderful tonic can be found from the fine people at
Tara Thomas, MS, CNS is a clinical herbalist in Seattle, Washington.
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