Hello friends, and happy February!
Imbolc, or Midwinter, has passed us by, and the light has begun to last ever-so-slightly longer with each day. It will still be some time before the air regains its warmth, but until that time, I have a recipe to share!
Fire Cider is an herbal folk recipe that was cooked up (literally) by herbalist Rosemary Gladstar in the kitchens of the California School of Herbal Studies sometime in the early 80’s. Meant to be a form of preventative medicine to ward off the usual wintertime colds and flus, the traditional remedy calls for immune-supporting herbs and plants like horseradish, onions, garlic, ginger, turmeric and hot peppers, to name a few! I stumbled upon this glorious concoction by way of social media, Instagram to be specific, and began to learn about Fire Cider’s history, purpose, and unfortunately, the current legal battle that it has been at the center of for some time now. To keep it short and (not so) sweet, a young company called Shire City Herbals has trademarked the term “Fire Cider”, and is pursuing lawsuits against small-business folk herbalists who sell their own versions of fire cider using the newly-trademarked name. This past February 2nd was World Fire Cider Day, when hundreds of herbalists and folk-medicine makers took to social media to protest the unfair trademark, and to show their support for the #FreeFireCider movement. With over 1500 posts on Instagram populating that hashtag’s page, we can be certain that their message came through loud and clear, although the fight appears far from over. If you’re interested in learning more about Fire Cider’s past, present, or future, head on over to FreeFireCider.com. But in the meantime, continue this wonderful herbal tradition the way it was meant to- learned from a friend, and then made in your own kitchen!
Pictured above are alllll the amazing ingredients that I used to make my first batch of homemade fire cider! I already had the honey, apple cider vinegar, garlic, ginger, and red onion, so all I had to run out and purchase was the horseradish root, turmeric, beets, lemon, and parsley. I *somewhat* followed a recipe I picked up from Mother Mountain Herbals‘ Instagram, but there are a bunch out there to use, like the original recipe by Rosemary Gladstar- or, once you get the basics of it down, go for it and create your own!
Once I gathered together all the ingredients, I began what I’d consider the only labor-intensive and time-consuming part of this process, which is the chopping and dicing. As I sit here and type, it occurred to me that this would be not only a super fun activity to do as a group, but would also cut down on the prep time! Something to remember for next year. But I digress.
Aren’t these colors absolutely beautiful? I didn’t even mind the beet-stained dishtowel because the pink was so pretty. As you can see from the picture, I kept the prep time to a minimum by roughly chopping everything, which I think will also make it easier to strain after it sits in the apple cider vinegar for those 3-4 weeks. Stay tuned!
Once all the ingredients were chopped and placed into the two mason jars I had picked out, (one for me, one for a friend) I poured Trader Joe’s organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar over the materials, splitting it pretty evenly between the two jars. To clarify, this isn’t a promo or anything of that sort, just where I happened to buy my groceries for this creation!
I have to say, the smell was actually amazing. So much herbal + veggie goodness! Once I filled the jars nearly to the brim, I cut out two squares of plastic from a sandwich-sized zipolc bag and placed them over the tops of the jars so that the vinegar wouldn’t corrode the metal lids by contact. Holding them in place, I screwed the lids on so that they looked like this:
After this, don’t forget the final and maybe most important step- LABEL YOUR LIDS!! Sharpie the date and name of the product you’ve made, and if you have a planner or calendar, put a reminder in 3-4 weeks to take the jars out of the pantry (or whatever temperature-stable area you have them in) and strain off the liquid. You’ll then be able to keep that liquid in a pantry or refrigerator for several more months, and take a teaspoon or so every day to help support your immune system- more if you feel a cold or flu virus coming on!
And voila! You have made your very own Fire Cider, AND participated in a rich folk-herbal tradition to boot! Below is the condensed recipe and instructions for my personal Fire-Cider, based on Mother Mountain Herbal‘s recipe- I hope you enjoy!
Blessings + Bacopa,
Ingredients- makes roughly 1 pint
-1/2 cup ginger, coarsely chopped
-1 red onion
– 2 tbsp fresh turmeric (I chopped up two root pieces)
– 1/2 cup fresh horseradish root (mine was store-bought in a jar)
– 10 cloves of garlic
– 1 cup fresh parsely
– 3 sprigs rosemary (mine was dried, but use fresh if you can!)
– 1 beet, peeled
– 1/2 cup raw honey, heated recommended for optimal pouring
– 1 bottle of apple cider vinegar
– A 1 pint container or 2 half pint containers
– 1 or 2 squares of plastic wrap or a cut-up ziploc bag
– Chop up all the whole items (ie lemon, beet, ginger, etc.) until they are all in pieces no bigger than a nickel. Use a garlic press for the cloves if you have one and want to save a little time!
– Add the chopped pieces to the container (I used two half-pint mason jars) as well as the remaining ingredients such as honey, horseradish, rosemary, etc. and pour apple cider vinegar over the top, leaving enough room at the brim so that the liquid won’t touch the lid.
– Place your square of plastic over the mouth of the container, and screw the lid on. Shake every other day or so for 3-4 weeks, storing in a pantry or other temperature-stable area.
– After 3-4 weeks, strain the liquid off and store it in another bottle, either in a pantry or refrigerator. It will last for several months! Take 1 tablespoon a day to support your immune system, or more if you feel a cold coming on. Enjoy!