There’s no denying that fire cider looks bad. Its glow-in-the-dark yellowish hue is like a liquid version of hepatitis. But not to worry—it tastes much, much worse than it looks.
What is it?
This tonic/remedy/taste bud marauder is made by infusing apple cider vinegar with a heap of pungently healthful ingredients like garlic, ginger, hot peppers, onions, and horseradish. The concoction is set aside to steep for anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, then finished off with a dollop of honey. Once ready, it’s decanted into jars and poured down the gullets of appreciative fans with all the fervor of Beaujolais Nouveau fans on the first Thursday in November. The only difference is that the wine tastes good and the fire cider tastes—look, there’s no dancing around this—incredibly bad.
Ward off the crud
So why in the world would you want to start every day by tossing back a couple shots of this stuff? Because it’s supposed to be really, really good for you. Those who swear by fire cider start taking daily doses early in the fall, hoping to ward off the oncoming cold and flu season. The cider can be knocked back right from the bottle or diluted by stirring it into water or tea. Some folks swear that it makes a tasty cocktail, too (which seems like a bad end for good liquor, but that’s your decision).
If the fire-fanatics happen to fall ill, they just up their dosage to fend off congestion and give a wake-up slap to their immune system. But cold prevention is just the beginning. Poke around in the dustier corners of the interwebs and you’ll find fire cider being hailed as an aid for everything from inflammation to poor digestion.
Want to get started?
You can buy a bottle at your local co-op or order it online. The current market leader is Shire City Herbals, headquartered in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Their elixir was originally created by founder Dana St. Pierre to improve the health of his then-ailing wife, Amy Huebner. (Guess what happened? Yep, she’s cured.) An eight-ounce bottle sells for about $15.
Hey tightwad, make it yourself
If you’re too cheap to make yourself miserable for such a spendy sum, consider mixing up your own fire cider at home. You need just a few simple ingredients and the patience to wait while it steeps for anywhere from a month to six months, until you decide it’s “done.” Here’s a basic outline of a recipe, but feel free to personalize it to taste (no fair adding Pepsi).
Homemade fire cider
1 ginger root (about 2 inches)
1 horseradish root (about 2 inches, or use prepared horseradish in a jar)
1 fresh turmeric root (about 1 inches) or 1 tablespoon of ground turmeric
1 garlic head (not a clove, a whole head)
1 onion (white, yellow or red is fine)
2–4 fresh peppers (use cayenne, habanero, or any type you prefer)
Bragg apple cider vinegar (enough to cover all ingredients)
Honey to taste
Large, clean glass jar
Grate ginger, horseradish, and turmeric root. Peel garlic and onions, and roughly chop. Chop peppers (wear gloves or wash hands immediately afterwards). Place all ingredients in jar. Pour apple cider vinegar over the ingredients until they are covered by about one inch. Place plastic wrap, wax paper or cheesecloth inside jar lid and screw shut. Place the jar in a dark, cool place and let it sit for at least one month and up to six months, stirring occasionally. When you’re ready, strain and discard solids. Add honey to taste, pour into clean bottles, and store your fire cider in the refrigerator.