One of my favorite folk remedies for fighting off bugs in the early stages and boosting immunity in the cold weather season is fire cider. Though it originated in this country over a century ago, it is still a helpful remedy in modern times.
Raw apple cider vinegar is a fermented food with a pH between 4.5 and 5.5. Its acid content, primarily acetic with some malic, is antimicrobial in nature. And vinegar in general has antiglycemic properties, reducing insulin spikes when taken with starches or sugars.
Fire cider traditionally contains a collection of "pungents" loaded with health-protective benefits: garlic (antioxidant, antiviral, antimicrobial, anti-parasitic), onion (antioxidant, antiviral, antibiotic, anti-inflammatory), and horseradish (inhibits bacterial infection, increases circulation).
It’s also common to include capsaicin-rich peppers in the form of cayenne powder or fresh hot chilies – warming and stimulating.
I’ve boosted this recipe with additional ingredients high in vitamin C: lemon, orange, and rosehips (whole chilies are also loaded with vitamin C); and both ginger (antiemetic, digestive aid, antimicrobial, antiviral, immune-boosting) and curcumin-rich turmeric (also a member of the ginger family) – warming, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.
Most of these ingredients are readily available in a grocery store and it's a really easy recipe to make – but you do need to plan ahead as it needs to sit for at least three weeks!
Once it’s prepared, you can take it straight or diluted in a little water or apple cider (1-2 tablespoons), use it in homemade salad or vegetable dressings, or use it to make delicious cocktails – alcoholic or non-alcoholic.
It makes a warming, tasty and beneficial addition to your fall and winter pantry.
- ½ yellow or red onion, chopped
- ½ peeled lemon, quartered
- ½ peeled orange, quartered
- ½ cup grated fresh horseradish root (if you can’t find the fresh root in your grocery store, use ½ cup prepared, well-drained)
- 1/3 cup grated fresh ginger root
- 1/8 cup crushed and chopped peeled garlic
- 2 tablespoon dried rosehips (or 1/3 cup fresh, gently crushed), optional
- 1 chopped jalapeno pepper, with seeds (or habanero for more heat)
- 2 tablespoons turmeric powder (or 1/4 cup grated fresh root)
- Cayenne pepper, to taste
- Slightly warmed raw apple cider vinegar, to cover all (about 3+ cups)
- ¼ - ½ cup raw honey or to taste
- Combine all herbs in a sterile quart-sized mason jar and pour warm vinegar over all.
- Mix well.
- Cover bottle opening with a double layer of plastic wrap and screw on the lid.
- Leave in a sunny place for 3-4 weeks, shaking daily to mix.
- Strain and compost all veg material and mix in a small amount of raw honey, to taste.
- Store in bottles in the refrigerator.
Johnston, Carol, PhD, RD and Gaas, Cindy, BS. “Vinegar: Medicinal Uses and Anti-glycemic Effect”, MedGenMed: 8(2):61, May 30, 2006.
Bowden, Jonny. The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth. Fair Winds Press, 2007. Print.