I headed back to work after the winter holidays yesterday, and met a consultant who had flown from the U.S. to provide training. She was feeling sick from the plane ride and gladly accepted some of my elderberry syrup. I offered some fire cider as well; she was intrigued and loved it at first sip. That got me thinking–who else might need another natural and holistic home remedy for colds and flu, or overall immunity support? YOU!
What The Heck Is Fire Cider?
Fire cider has been around for hundreds of years, even though it’s just become trendy (and mass-produced) in the recent past. Any combination of apple cider vinegar with vegetables, fruits, herbs, and honey could be called fire cider or spiced vinegar.
Apple cider vinegar has long been known for its health benefits. Apple cider vinegar is created by combining apples or apple juice with yeast, which begins a natural fermentation process. Bacteria are introduced to the solution, which ferments it further; the end product is acetic acid. Store bought apple cider vinegar is generally filtered and looks like apple juice; home brewed or organic unfiltered apple cider vinegar contains ‘mother’, bits of stringy enzymes, proteins, and gut friendly bacteria. Diets high in fermented foods are good for you, and including apple cider vinegar is a smart choice.
Apple cider vinegar is anti-bacterial and disinfectant, and excellent for preserving and pickling foods. Research has shown it lowers blood sugar levels and increases insulin sensitivity. While this may be particularly helpful to those with diabetes, it’s a health benefit to anyone who consumes apple cider vinegar (and even more so when combined with a Paleo or grain free diet). Less conclusive studies have suggested that it may also help promote weight loss by causing feelings of satiety, protect against heart disease by lowering triglyceride and cholesterol levels, and kill cancer cells and/or shrink tumors. The bottom line is: if it can do any of these things, fantastic! It’s a superfood. If not, it’s still a powerful fermented food to include in your diet to help increase levels of good bacteria in the gut.
Putting Some Fire In Your Apple Cider Vinegar
So, we’re starting with apple cider vinegar. It’s going to need some fire! Chili peppers contain antioxidants including carotenoids that help improve insulin regulation and vitamin C, which boost immune support. The capsaicin they contain is great for your heart, and they’re also loaded with copper, iron, potassium, and vitamins a and b. I love to put them in everything! A key component of fire cider is chili pepper, although you can control the heat by adjusting your recipe according to your tastes.
Other common ingredients in fire cider are onions, garlic, parley, cilantro, ginger, turmeric, and horseradish, all of which are well know for their health benefits (especially pertaining to immune health). I’ve also seen recipes that included fruits or other vegetables. There are tons of recipes for fire cider, and many who make it don’t follow a recipe but rather toss in whatever ‘superfood’ herbs and ingredients they have laying around. The procedure is simple: chop and layer the ingredients in a jar, pour the apple cider vinegar to the top, seal and let brew on the counter for as long as you’d like. It’s good to give it a shake every few days to mix flavors; when you feel it’s done simply strain and mix with a bit of raw local honey and store on your counter or fridge. The finished product doesn’t have to be refrigerated but it will keep longer there (up to 6 months). I doubt I’d be able to get a batch to last that long if I tried! My family loves it. We take it daily in addition to using for marinades and recipes, and a large mason jar only lasts us about 3 months.
I Made It–Now What Do I Do With It?
Fire cider can be taken daily. We prefer ours straight up, about a shot glass full each. My 2 and 4 year old boys love it and always remind me if I forget to give it to them at breakfast. If that’s not your cup of tea, it can be diluted in water, juice, or a smoothie. I also love to include it in recipes. I combine a half cup or so with equal parts olive or flax oil and use to marinate meats. You can sub it for regular vinegar in dressings or in any recipe that calls for vinegar. I’m even planning to try pickling some cucumbers with it (I have a dangerous obsession with pickles). Perhaps one of my favorite applications is in cocktails (bloody Mary and martini with fire cider are AMAZING!) Experiment, and if you find (or create) something fabulous with your fire cider, please share the recipe with me! 🙂
Homemade Fire Cider Recipe
This is one of those things that evolves. It should be based on the ingredients you have on hand, and your personal tastes. Use my recipe as a starting point but I highly encourage you to adjust and experiment.
Apple cider vinegar (preferably home brewed, or an organic unfiltered brand with ‘mother’ such as Braggs). There’s no quantity listed; you’ll need enough to fill your jar or container after it’s filled with veggies, so will totally depend on the size of container you’re using. Unless you’re using a huge jar, one bottle is probably enough.
1/2 cup chopped or sliced onion
1/4 cup chopped/sliced/grated garlic
1/4 cup chopped/sliced/grated ginger
1/4 cup chopped/sliced/grated turmeric
A few sprigs fresh thyme or dill
A few red and black peppercorns
Peppers (I like it hot and use 2-5 habaneros, ghost chilis, or Indian chilis. You can increase or decrease quantity based on your preference and the type of pepper you’re using).
1/4 cup raw local honey
OTHER IDEAS: horseradish, fresh herbs, chopped carrots, chopped or diced citrus fruits, apple slices
In a large glass jar with a lid, layer the chopped roots and vegetables with the lightest on the bottom and the heaviest on top. You can use a fermenting weight to keep everything submerged to prevent spoilage; if you don’t have one, pack the roots down tightly and make sure to leave enough room for plenty of vinegar. Top with a generous amount of apple cider vinegar and close the lid. Don’t add the honey at this stage! You can leave the jar in a cool, dark cupboard undisturbed for 3-4 weeks or shake it every so often during its brew time (I prefer to shake mine).
After about 4 weeks, shake your cider and strain the liquid to a new container using a cheesecloth or sieve. Add honey to taste, mix well, and enjoy. It doesn’t need to be refrigerated but it’s fine to do so if you prefer. Don’t toss the veggies! They’re great to eat just as they are, or pop them in a soup or stir fry.
Did you try it and love it (or hate it?!) Please share your experiences and recipe tweaks in the comments!