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Fire Cider

Those who know us know that we are not ones who are into home remedies (well, one of us is, the rest of us just let her talk). While we do not dismiss folk medicine as hokum (we do acknowledge that a number of today’s pharmaceuticals have herbal roots), we do put more stock in understanding the mechanism of action more than just anecdotal evidence. However, we were intrigued by a bottle of Fire Cider one of our editors brought into the office. She was taking it to help with her cough. She was willing to share it with the few of us who were under the same affliction (she’s nice that way).

The spicy apple cider vinegar concoction was rather tasty and surprisingly, did help in suppressing our coughs. Unfortunately, the small bottle did not last very long. Instead of “coughing” up $15 bucks for another bottle, we thought we would try our hands at making some.

Here are the two links (Mountain RosetheKitchn) with the recipes we used for the Fire Cider. The only change was we used three different types of hot peppers (habaneros, jalapenos, something long and thin) instead of just the one.

The interns spent the afternoon prepping and assembling the Fire Cider ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup fresh grated organic ginger root,
  • 1/2 cup fresh grated organic horseradish root,
  • 1 medium organic onion,
  • crushed 10 cloves of organic garlic,
  • chopped 2 organic jalapeno peppers, 1 habanero, or whatever else is around
  • chopped zest and juice from 1 organic lemon or 1/2 lemon and 1/2 orange
  • several sprigs of fresh organic rosemary
  • 1 tbsp organic turmeric powder organic apple cider vinegar
  • 16 oz bottle of unfiltered apple cider vinegar

Other ingredients if available:

  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped thyme
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns

There is a lot of chopping and dicing, but there is no cooking involved in making fire cider. Reducing the ingredients to bits create a lots of surface area in contact with the liquid. By letting everything sit for a few weeks, the oils and other flavors will leach out and infuse into the cider vinegar. As the goal is to create something healthy as well as tasty, the source of the ingredients does take on some importance. Most recipes recommend the use of organically-grown ingredients to minimize the addition of unnecessary chemicals. They also stress the use of UNFILTERED and UNPASTEURIZED apple cider vinegar because all of the “goodies” such as pectin, trace minerals, beneficial bacteria and enzymes are left intact. We went with Bragg Organic Apple Cider Vinegar because they have a good reputation and is readily available.

Assembling the ingredients was straightforward enough. The order is not really important, so we did what we did for esthetic reasons. Everything fitted nicely into the 32oz containers. We layered the horseradish on the bottom, the peppers and citrus in the middle, the rosemary poked into the center, and the rest placed on top. Once all the bits were in, the apple cider vinegar was poured into the jar. The recipes suggest putting a piece of wax paper under the lid so the vinegar does not eat into the metal of the lid. However, we reused some pickle and tomato sauce jars because they already had lined lids. We knew there was a reason why we kept them!

While we don’t know much about fire cider’s medicinal properties and we make absolutely no claims in that area, we do think this tasty tonic would make for a pretty good addition to a cocktail. All we have to do now is to remember to shake the jars up once a day. The concoctions should be ready in about a month. Come back at the end of April to see how things turn out.

On a side note, while working on this article, we came upon the trademark brouhaha ignited by Shire City Herbals when they claimed the term “Fire Cider” as their own. Many in the herbalist community were up in arms as the phrase, first coined by Rosemary Gladstar, had been in the public domain for decades. If that was not bad enough, Shire City Herbals began enforcing their claim by having Etsy (the online marketplace for handcrafted goods) inform sellers on its site that they are infringing on a trademarked name and to cease selling goods with that moniker. It is as if someone was able to trademark the words “ice cream” today and not allow anyone else to use it. Most in the community felt Shire’s move was opportunistic, money-grubbing, and generally “dick-ish.” We feel a little bad for the Shire City Herbal folks, but we do feel they are building their business by taking advantage of a LOT of good will and generosity of those who came before them. Readers may do as they please, but we will not be buying any more of Shire’s Fire Cider until we feel there is a fair resolution to this issue.

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