Nourish: Ignite Your Immune System with Fire Cider

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In my house, we drink fire cider every morning. At the first sign of a cold, we drink fire cider. The kids crinkle up their faces at the pungent taste, but now they actually look forward to it.

So what is this mysterious brew? It’s a warming and energizing health tonic that is just as intense as it sounds. Vinegar drinks have long been used as a folk remedy to treat illness and ward off colds and flus. In the 1980s, fire cider was popularized by herbalist Rosemary Gladstar, who touted its immune boosting and decongestive benefits. Since then, people have been making their own batches, giving it away to friends, and even selling it on Etsy.

The spicy concoction starts with a base of apple cider vinegar, and then hot peppers, onions, garlic, ginger, horseradish, and other herbs and spices are steeped in the vinegar for two to four weeks. The combination of roots and spices works to support your immune system, increase appetite and digestion, reduce congestion and mucous, and offer anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties.

It’s said that if you take it at the first sign of a cold or flu, your symptoms will be lessened and the illness will be shorter in duration. In our house, we like to take it as a shot in the morning, but you can also add it to juice, tea or other beverages, or even use it as a salad dressing. It’s inexpensive to make and is particularly useful during the cold winter months.

I took it two times a day this fall when I had a cold, and it seemed to shorten the duration of my illness. I’m a believer, but don’t take my word for it. Try it yourself with this simple recipe!
 
What you’ll need:
1 quart jar
1 quart apple cider vinegar
½ cup horseradish root chopped
½ cup ginger root grated
½ cup onion chopped
¼ cup garlic chopped
⅛ cup turmeric root chopped (or powder)
2 jalapenos chopped
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. black peppercorns
Sprig of rosemary or thyme (optional)

How to make it:
Place all of the ingredients in the quart jar and cover them with apple cider vinegar. Cover tightly and let sit for 2-4 weeks or longer if you’d like. Strain into a clean jar. The leftover roots and herbs can be added to a stir-fry or eaten like pickles—they’re delicious!

I like to add honey to the fire cider I make. I find that it makes the tonic more palatable and smooth, especially for little ones. I add the honey after I’ve strained out the roots and spices, stirring it into the freshly made tonic in the quart jar. That way it’s always ready to drink when needed.

There are many recipes for fire cider. Feel free to extrapolate or create your own. For instance, if you can't find fresh horseradish root, I've used Bubbies grated horseradish that comes in a jar. If you can’t find fresh turmeric root, try powder. If you prefer other hot peppers to jalapenos, try those. You get the point: be creative!

Photo: “Fire Cider” by The Dabblist on Flickr (cc)

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