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Fire Cider: A Traditional Folk Remedy

I’m sure most of you have heard of Fire Cider (sometimes called Fire Tonic).  It’s an apple cider vinegar (ACV) infusion of spicy roots, vegetables, and herbs. Traditionally, it’s been used as a folk remedy for the common cold.  People have been known to take a spoonful daily as an immune booster and to aid their digestion.

The health benefits of ACV date back to 400 BC as noted by Hippocrates, and there have been various recipes involving ACV, herbs, vegetables, and honey in folk medicine ever since.

The name “Fire Cider” is typically attributed to Rosemary Gladstar of the Science & Art of Herbalism (and AKA “the Godmother of American Herbalism”) from her Californian herbal classes in the 1980s. Her basic “original” recipe is below (and from here), and you can make any substitutions you need to:


  • ½ cup grated fresh horseradish root
  • ½ cup or more fresh chopped onions
  • ¼ cup or more chopped garlic
  • ¼ cup or more grated ginger
  • Chopped fresh or dried cayenne pepper ‘to taste’. Can be whole or powdered.  ‘ To Taste’ means should be hot, but not so hot you can’t tolerate it.  Better to make it a little milder than to hot; you can always add more pepper later if necessary.
  • Optional ingredients; Turmeric, Echinacea, cinnamon, etc.


  1. Place herbs in a half-gallon canning jar and cover with enough raw unpasteurized apple cider vinegar to cover them by at least three to four inches.  Cover with a tight-fitting lid.
  2. Place the jar in a warm place and let for three to four weeks.  Best to shake every day to help in the maceration process.
  3. After three to four weeks, strain out the herbs, and reserve the liquid.
  4. Add honey ‘to taste’.  Warm the honey first so it mixes in well (but not too hot!).  “To Taste’ means your Fire Cider should taste hot, spicy, and sweet.  “A little bit of honey helps the medicine go down……”
  5. Rebottle and enjoy!  Fire Cider will keep for several months unrefrigerated if stored in a cool pantry.   But it’s better to store in the refrigerator if you’ve room.

A small shot glass daily serves as an excellent tonic, or take teaspoons if you feel a cold coming on.

When choosing ingredients, consider:

  1. Always choose raw ACV with the “mother.”  Bragg’s is a brand commonly found in grocery stores.
  2. When grating a horseradish root, wear protective glasses and be aware of the strong odor. It will completely open your sinuses and be very careful not to touch your eyes! 
  3. Root powder can be used as a substitute where the ginger, turmeric or horseradish roots are unavailable.  But if you can get it, the raw root is best.  You don’t have to peel the roots prior to grating.  Just throw it all in there.

Fire Cider is also delicious used in a salad dressing, home-made mustard, coleslaw, soup and so much more.  Save the leftover pulp and add it to stir fry vegetables or any hot spicy dish.  Start off with just a little at a time because it can be strong!

How do you make your Fire Cider?

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