With temperatures plummeting, it is officially the time of year when our immune systems need all the help they can get.
Fire Cider is a traditional herbal remedy used to warm up the body during the cold months and immunity during cold and flu season. It was created in the late 70’s by renowned herbalist Rosemary Gladstar as a warming tonic to support the immune system and to soothe cold and flu symptoms.
Similar remedies have been used throughout the ages using vinegar and honey to support the immune system. Known as Oxymels and derived from the Greek word oxymeli, which translates to “acid and honey,” oxymel use has been documented since the age of Hippocrates to use and extract herbs.
“You will find the drink, called oxymel, often very useful… for it promotes expectoration and freedom of breathing” (Hippocrates, 400 B.C.E.).
Both apple cider vinegar and raw honey are common kitchen allies that can be used to help soothe the throat, calm a cough, or bolster the immune system through colds and flu. When combined with herbs that carry complementary actions, oxymels offer a potent, yet tasty, support for times of sickness or low immunity.
Rosemary Gladstar’s original Fire Cider recipe includes five dominant herbs including ginger, onion, garlic, horseradish and hot pepper like cayenne.
There are variations of the recipe, and some herbalists add other herbs and spices turmeric which is strongly anti-inflammatory, and it works synergistically with black pepper. Herbs like rosemary which has anti-microbial properties and is a restorative tonic, or cinnamon for its warmth.
Citrus fruit like lemon can make a great addition, too. You can chop the whole fruit, or just use the peel.
Thyme is both a culinary and medicinal herb, and traditionally treasured as healing herb. It's also an expectorant and often included in herbal cough remedies. You can use either fresh or dried thyme.
The sweetness of the honey balances the syrup making it more palatable while the Kombucha or Apple Cider Vinegar acts as a probiotic and balances blood sugar levels.
2-4 cloves garlic, peeled and diced
1/2 onion, peeled and diced
3-inch piece of ginger, peeled and diced
3-inch piece fresh turmeric (or 2 tsp dried), peeled and diced
1 chili, sliced
1 orange, squeezed and quartered
1 lemon, squeezed and quartered
2-4 sprigs (or 2 tbsp dried) of rosemary
2-4 sprigs (or 2 tbsp dried) of thyme
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp coriander seeds
1-3 cups raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar or kombucha vinegar
1/4 to 1/2 cup honey or maple syrup, or more to taste
Combine herbs in a litre jar and pour vinegar on top leaving 1 inch from the top. Secure lid and store in a dry spot for 4 weeks.
Strain infused vinegar into a clean jar and stir in honey until dissolved. Secure lid and store in refrigerator or in a dry, cool spot away from heat and light for up to 1 year.
Dosage: Take 1 tablespoon per day to support your immune system and when you feel like you're run down. However, more than a remedy, fire cider is also an excellent food - a delicious, spicy sweet-tart tonic that you can use in place of other vinegars in vinaigrettes and other culinary preparations. So, it's a great way to consistently consume medicinal herbs regularly.
As a wellness shot. Take a tablespoon or two straight.
In herbal teas. Swirl a tablespoon into hot lemon-ginger tea.
As a vinaigrette. Use fire cider in place of apple cider vinegar in your vinaigrette recipe - like this classic maple vinaigrette.
Sprinkle it over roasted vegetables. Roasted vegetables, especially earthy root vegetables, benefit from the brightness of apple cider vinegar and the zip of fire cider.
Swirl some in soups or stews. It's excellent drizzled over lentil stew with a little sprinkle of extra virgin olive oil.
image by Zahrin Lukman @Unsplash