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Dreams of Fall: How I'm Preparing

Dreams of Fall: How I'm Preparing

How to Make fire cider Immune Boosting Tonic

It may still be summer but my thoughts are already moving to what I want to get set-up for fall. As my horseradish grows taller and closer to harvest I’m already planning my fire cider production.  

echincea and bee plum brilliance fire cider
Now more than ever there is so much buzz around immunity and building strong internal defenses.  Fire cider is a wonderful way to support the immune system.  It can be crafted from common kitchen ingredients making it an ideal DIY project.  Placing intention on health and well-being while creating your immune booster will make it that much more powerful.  This would be a great gift for friends and family members, it is gentle and can be used by young and old alike.

What is Fire Cider?

Fire cider is a very popular herbal remedy, and with good reason, it is tasty, versatile and effective!  Medicinal vinegars have been around for centuries ranging from oxymels (honey sweetened vinegars) from the father of modern medicine, Hippocrates, to the well-known 4 thieves that supposedly kept four grave robbers from catching the plague during the middle ages. These early formulas usually contained culinary herbs but not the spicy fiery ingredients you find in the ciders now.  Fire cider, the spicy, sweet, pungent powerhouse was created and popularized by Rosemary Gladstar (known as the fairy godmother of herbalism) in the 1980’s where she taught her recipes to many students.  Her version contains lots of raw garlic, onions, ginger, spicy peppers and horseradish.  

Because this is folk medicine the ingredients are flexible and will change with each year depending on what’s available and abundant.  Fire cider is a great place to experiment and stretch your herbal boundaries, sticking to a basic recipe and then adding in your own touches and flair. 

I’ll start with a basic recipe and then include some ideas for add-ins along with short descriptions of their benefits:


Rosemary Gladstar’s Original Fire Cider Recipe:

  • ½ cup grated fresh horseradish root
  • ½ cup or more fresh chopped onions
  • ¼ cup or more chopped garlic
  • ¼ cup or more grated ginger
  • Chopped fresh or dried cayenne pepper ‘to taste’. Can be whole or powdered.  ‘ To Taste’ means it 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.
  1. 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.
  2. Place the jar in a warm place and let it sit for three to four weeks.  Best to shake every day to help in the maceration process.
  3. After three to four weeks, strain out the herbs, and reserve the liquid.
  4. 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……”
  5. 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.

A small shot glass daily serves as an excellent tonic Or take teaspoons if you feel a cold coming on.
Take it more frequently if necessary to help your immune system do battle.

plum brilliance fire cider recipe

What Else can I put into my Fire Cider?

From this starting point I like to add any of the following (don’t feel limited by this list, it’s not comprehensive)

  • Rose Hips: high in vitamin C, mildly astringent, can be useful in acute illness like colds
  • Burdock Root: an alterative (blood purifier) biter herb that stimulates bile function and strengthens the liver.
  • Ashwaganda: an adaptogen that can reduce the effects of stress while promoting energy and vitality
  • Shatavari: a restorative adaptogenic herb often used for nervous exhaustion. (Should be avoided by pregnant women)
  • Astragalus: an adaptogenic herb used in traditional Chinese medicine to boost energy and strengthen immunity
  • Rosemary: a gentle aromatic herb that supports the brain and circulation
  • Thyme: a very powerful remedy for infections of all kinds, especially the lungs and digestive tract
  • Beets: very high in iron and essential minerals, an alterative (blood purifier) and blood builder
  • Citrus: lemon is often used to help fight cold and flu
  • Yellow Dock: high in organic iron compounds and seems to free iron stored in the liver, great when combined with other iron rich herbs like alfalfa and beets.

Have fun, be creative and enjoy good health!!

various peppers immune vinegar

If you’re not already excited to start making some herbal magic, here are a couple more recipes from Rosemary Gladstar to get your creative and *ahem* salivary juices flowing!!

Fire Cider Chutney:

"Strain the herbs (the mark) from Fire Cider after 4 weeks. The herbs should still be somewhat firm and flavorful.   Add the herbs to a Cuisinart or blender, and grind coarsely (don’t blend into a smooth past, but only until coarse and crunchy).  If too dry, add a little of the Fire Cider Vinegar to the mix. You might wish to add a little more honey and cayenne to taste.  Your finished Fire Cider Chutney should be sweet but not too sweet, hot but not too hot, and just right for your pleasure taste! This delicious chutney is great on toast, mixed with rice, veggie dishes, is a favorable addition to soups, or enjoyed right from the spoon. It’s the perfect winter"

Honey Onion Syrup w/ Fire Cider Chutney:

"My husband got the ‘grunge’ this winter while I was away with my mother on a little holiday to Mexico! My Mother’s 90 and still loves to travel.  When I arrived home, Robert pretty bad cough, sore throat and a flu that had lodged in his lungs.   I have a number of favorite recipes I knew would do the trick, but one that I always fall back on for sore throats is Onion Honey Syrup."

  • Slice yellow onions into thin half moons and place in a pot.
  • Cover with honey, and with the lid slightly ajar (just enough to let a little of the steam out) slowly heat the onions and syrup. The heat should be low enough so that honey is warm, but not simmering or boiling.
  • Cook for about 30-40 minutes over low heat, until the onions are very soft and the honey is deeply infused with onion juice.
  • This make s a very tasty syrup that is very effective for deep bronchial coughs. You can further enhance by adding garlic with the onion for even stronger syrup.
  • For an Added Punch, add Fire Cider Chutney.

  • "The syrup was a little too sweet for Robert.  Since I had just finished straining the Fire Cider and making my first batch of Fire Cider Chutney, I decided to try adding some of it to the onion syrup.   To make a nicer syrup consistency, I blended the Chutney into a finer paste, and then added the paste to the onion syrup. It was divine!!!  Sweet and soothing, with just enough fire and spark to make it elegantly delicious and healing."

    If you still want more...

    check out Rosemary Gladstar's amazing Fire Cider recipe book for 101 more fire cider starters!

    You might also be interested in:
    Fire Cider Goes to Court: Fighting For Folk Herbalism
    Rosemary’s Story

    My original Fire Cider Post


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