Fire Up Your Immune System!
Defend Yourself This Cold and Flu Season With Fire Cider
What is Fire Cider?
Fire cider is an immune-boosting traditional remedy that acts as a wonderful tonic during the fall and winter months. It is a powerful ally to help us fight off those nasty little invaders that make us sick. So if you regularly fall victim to cold and flu season, fire cider may be for you!
How to Make Fire Cider
Fire cider is easy to make, affordable, and uses common foods, most of which you may already have! Just look at this fiery list of immune-enhancing ingredients:
Garlic is a well-known infection fighter with strong antimicrobial action, effective against colds and flu and other respiratory tract infections.
Onion Like its close relative garlic, onion also has antiviral properties.
Ginger contains antiviral compounds and has specific actions against the common cold (rhinoviruses). It can also help relieve nausea, suppress a cough and break a fever.
Horseradish is an old home remedy useful in fevers, colds, flu, cough, and sinus infections.
Apple Cider Vinegar acts as the solvent and has a long list of health benefits. As a fermented food (with “mother”), it contains good bacteria that strengthens the immune system.
Honey coats the throat and has antimicrobial properties.
Cayenne has been used as a folk remedy for fevers, sore throats and other respiratory tract infections. It contains a compound called capsaicin which thins mucus secretions, making it helpful in fighting colds and sinus infections.
I think the best way to begin making fire cider is to start with Rosemary Gladstar’s classic recipe. Rosemary is an inspirational herbalist who first coined the phrase “fire cider” and has been influential in popularizing the remedy.
1 medium onion, chopped
4-5 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
3-4 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
3-4 tablespoons freshly grated horseradish root
Apple cider vinegar (unpasteurized)
To make the vinegar:
Combine the onion, garlic, ginger and horseradish in a widemouth glass quart jar and add enough warmed apple cider vinegar to cover them. Warming the vinegar allows it to more actively draw the properties out of the herbs. Place in a warm spot (near a sunny window is fine) and let sit for 3 to 4 weeks. Strain, then discard the spent herbs. Now the fun part: add honey and cayenne to taste. The finished product should test lively, hot, pungent and sweet.
Take 1 to 2 tablespoons at the first sign of a cold, and repeat every 3-4 hours until symptoms subside. Watch Rosemary discussing her recipe
Add your fire cider to food (e.g. salad dressing and sauces) or take it straight in a shot glass or by the tablespoon.
The other great thing about this recipe is that it’s easy and fun to adapt. Try developing your own signature fire cider! Experiment with other health-enhancing ingredients such as turmeric, rosemary, thyme, lemon and jalapenos. Here is a nice variation by Mountain Rose Herbs Note: fire cider is an immune-booster, so it may not be appropriate for those with an autoimmune condition.
Article written by Paul Thompson, RHN
Paul Thompson is a holistic nutritionist and herbal apprentice based in Ottawa, Ontario. He works at the Barrhaven and Billings Bridge locations of Natural Food Pantry.