Everything to Know About Fire Cider
Fire Cider is a herbalist-style beverage remedy that purportedly has a fair number of health benefits for your immune system.
Written by CraftJack | Updated | 10 min read
A Tonic, Roborant, or Pick-Me-Up, depending on how you view it, this immune-boosting concoction gets its name from the spicy ingredients that marinade a strong pour of raw Apple Cider Vinegar, one of nature’s best preservatives.
So grab your favorite ACV, a Teddy Bear of raw honey, and a handful of natural ingredients, as well as your favorite glass jar, and let’s get started.
The size of the batch you want to make will help you determine whether you want pint, quart or half gallon containers. You will need two of whatever you choose though.
Here are the things you’re going to need to make a halfway-decent Fire Cider tonic. We encourage you to build your own Fire Cider recipe by adjusting the the spices and veggies to your liking.
Plus, you can tilt the flavor profile, as well as the Vitamin C, of the concoction by choosing which Citrus path you wish to follow: that of the Lemon, the Lime, or the Orange. Grapefruit is another option, along with Pineapple, should you wish to sweeten it up a tad.
Bonus points for using ingredients straight from your own garden. If you want to know how to build a Hoop House for winter gardening, and thus fresh herbs and veggies for your flu season Fire Cider recipe, check out
- Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
- Black Peppercorns
- Cayenne Pepper
- Fresh Garlic
- Fresh Ginger Root
- Fresh Horseradish Root
- Fresh Onion
- Fresh Turmeric
You don't need much in the way of hot peppers if you're going to add them. Same goes for fresh herbs, you will only need a few sprigs.
- Brown Sugar (if you need a sweetener)
- Habanero Peppers
- Hot Sauce
- Jalapeno Peppers
- Rosehip (not our jam, but an option)
Apple cider vinegar, the main ingredient in Fire Cider, has antibacterial properties. Garlic has been shown to decrease the severity of the common cold. Capsaicin has antiviral properties. Not only is honey antimicrobial, but it can help ease the feeling of a raw cough.
And we haven’t even discussed the spice yet, because boy howdy does spice open up the nasal passage. That’s what hot peppers and horseradish will do for you and your nose, open up the olfactory senses.
Then there’s digestion aids such as ginger. And, speculation around circulation benefits from spices like cayenne pepper.
So, the potential is there for Fire Cider to be quite a benefit to your nutrition. Like anything, check with your doctor / medical professionals before consuming anything new.
Chop, peel, grate, crush and juice any and all of the raw ingredients that require doing so.
Add your raw ingredients to your jar, adjusting for the size of your batch. A pint, a quart, or a half gallon are the most common size batches to make. For the sake of adding ingredients, we’re going to use a pint as our basis to measure.
If you want to make a quart or half gallon, double or quadruple the amount of raw ingredients below.
- A dash of rosemary and sage
- A handful of chopped garlic cloves (3-7)
- 1/4 cup of grated and peeled ginger
- 1/4 cup of grated horseradish
- 1/4 to 1/2 of a chopped onion
- 1/4 to 1 whole juiced lemon (to taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon of black peppercorns
- 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
- 1/8 cup of grated and peeled turmeric root
Fill the remaining space in the pint-sized jar with apple cider vinegar. It’s essential to fill it to the brim as the ACV needs to preserve the rest of the raw ingredients.
Place a layer of parchment paper under the plastic or metal lid of the jar.
Screw the cap back on and begin to shake vigorously.
Store the tonic for a month in a cool, dark place, like a basement storage rack. If you’re forced to store it in your kitchen, do it in a place that is not touched by natural light directly.
Take a few moments to give the jar a shake daily.
After the month is completed, unscrew the jar and strain anything solid out of the mixture, leaving only liquid in your second jar. We prefer a metal strainer, but using something like cheesecloth is entirely acceptable as well. Take the solid remnants and toss them in the compost, their job is done.
You can accelerate this step if flu season snuck up on you and you made the recipe too late. You can also let it sit for an extra couple of weeks if so desired.
Add raw honey to taste to the now liquid-only vinegar tonic. Make sure to stir until it has dissolved.
Enjoy your potent, immune-boasting Apple Cider Vinegar roborant by taking a shot of it when you feel a cold coming on, or, putting it daily on your food if you see fit.
We recommend keeping it in the fridge so it both keeps and remains easily accessible.
Check out this video from Herbmentor, featuring Herbalist Rosemary Gladstar, if you want to see the process in action. She makes a mean ol’ batch of Fire Cider, showing you how to strain the solids and get the veggies diced up, while also covering how much prep time is needed and how to use fire cider to the fullest.
You can make homemade Fire Cider with no horseradish, or you can swap ginger for cinnamon or nutmeg. In the same way that your Grandma tossed a bunch of fresh veggies into a cauldron (not a witch pun) to make stew back when you' were a grade schooler, this elixir can be flexible to your whimsy.
If you don’t have the time to make it yourself or you don’t trust your DIY culinary skills, you can always purchase a bottle from a retailer. Some of the best brands you can buy online include:
- Andi Lynn’s Fire Cider Tonic
- Fire Brew
- Hany’s Harvest
- Shire City Herbals
- The Twisted Shot
- Tough Mother
Shire City Herbals, a Fire Cider selling brand from Western Massachusetts, tried to trademark the beverage a few years ago. Herbalists and DIY Fermentation-Friendly Folks fought to preserve their remedy in the public domain.
“If fire cider had been allowed, it would have set a precedent for all these other traditional formulas to be trademarked,” said Rosemary Gladstar, who is considered by many to be the godmother of modern herbalism and the true inventor of the term “fire cider.”
In a new book of 101 crowd-sourced fire cider recipes, Gladstar wrote that she started making the brew at the California School of Herbal Studies around 1980. Her original recipe called for people to “shake the jar every day to help in the maceration process,” and advised that “a small shot glass daily serves as an excellent tonic.”
It’s best to make Fire Cider during Flu Season. Why? Because it’s like a science fiction laser gun for your sinuses that (allegedly) zaps away the common cold. Ok, that’s a bit hyperbolic.
At the very least, it should reduce the total time spent under cold by activating the immune system. Thanks, Capsaicin!
Like a cold shower to wake you up, you could also make Fire Cider during the rest of the year if necessary. It’s just harder to imagine the need for preventative herbal remedies in the late Spring when the warmth returns to the air and the freshness of Spring is in bloom. Unless of course you suffer from allergies. In that case, have at it with this folk remedy.
You might also want to consume some after a long day of alcohol consumption, as not all drinking holidays fall on a weekend.
There are two paths to go down here. It’s good for mixing into soups and starchy dishes (rice, couscous, lentils), serving as a salad dressing, and just drinking straight like a shot of alcohol. It’s also good for antioxidants, anti-inflammatory needs (even if the spice feels flammatory), and other healthcare-adjacent properties such as antiviral and antibacterial.
Something about that grammar felt off, right?
Fire Cider tastes like your mouth just swallowed a match. Jokes aside, a spoonful of Fire Cider tastes like your favorite zesty bloody mary mix dove into a lake of citrusy apple cider.
Apple Cider is a sugary treat best enjoyed in the late Autumn around Thanksgiving. Fire Cider, especially unsweetened versions, is a spicy tonic best served during cold and flu season. So whereas regular Apple Cider is the cure for sadness, Fire Cider is a home remedy.
Nothing, if you add booze to Fire Cider. But that’s just it, the alcohol content of Hard Cider is the major difference. The flavor profile is also a difference, as Hard Cider is typically modeled after Apple Cider, just as an alcoholic version of it.
That said, many cideries and makers of perry do offer zesty flavors of cider - some based around habanero peppers.
Yes, you can make an alcoholic fire cider simply by adding a clear alcohol such as Vodka to the tonic. Much like a bloody mary, clear liquors mix better with veggies than dark rum or bourbon. Think about it, have you ever seen celery in a neat whiskey?
On second thought, don’t answer that.
Fire Cider is shelf stable and does not need to be refrigerated. If you’re purchasing a commercial Fire Cider and are unsure whether it should be refrigerated or not, check the brand’s labeling.
A properly made tonic can, and should, last you several months. Make sure to keep it cool, and if possible, in a dark place. An airtight lid is essential.
Yes, you can drink/consume a limited amount of Fire Cider every day. Too much wouldn’t be good for you.
Yes, you absolutely can drink too much Fire Cider. Given that you can drink too much water, and water is the best thing you can drink on the planet, then it should come as no surprise that you can imbibe too much of a spicy tonic.
It would appear to be true that it is a probiotic.
Yes, you can put elderberries in Fire Cider.
Yes, it does help with digestion in most people.
If you’re comparing drinking Fire Cider to drinking juice, soda or hard alcohol, then yes, you’d be more likely to lose weight consuming Fire Cider than those sugary beverages. If you’re comparing it to just drinking water, then no, it wouldn’t make you lose weight.
If, however, what you’re asking is does Fire Cider contain ingredients that may help your body fend off obesity, the answer is yes. A study of Capsaicin has shown that there are potential anti-adipogenic effects to its consumption. Same goes for Turmeric.
The tonic is also spicy enough to warrant sprinting toward a cold glass of ice water. So there’s a few calories burned right there.