This rich Herbal fire-cider packed with antioxidants, minerals and vitamin C is an alcohol-free way to boost your immune system with nutrient-rich herbs, fruits and roots and warm up your body. While the striking blend of herbs provides all the nutrients and warming qualities, honey and vinegar give it a pleasant sweet and sour taste.
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What is Fire Cider?
Fire cider has been developed by well known herbalist Rosemary Gladstar in the early 1980’s when she was teaching her students to make herbal preparations from food and turn them into medicine. Fire cider is usually made of ingredients that are easily available in the kitchen such as ginger, onion, garlic or black pepper, apple cider vinegar and honey. It was primarily made to warm your up during cold winter months, boost your immunity and improve digestion.
Fire cider or Oxymel?
In fact, fire cider is an oxymel, herbal remedy that was been used by Hippocrates around 400 B.C.E.
Making oxymel is like going several hundred or even thousand years back in time. It is a very old traditional method of preparing herbs that were effective however not tasty nor pungent and aromatic such as garlic or cayenne. The word oxymel derives from the Greek word “oxymeli” that means acid and honey.
Apple cider vinegar, as well as raw honey, have multiple medicinal properties so just by using these two ingredients you get a potent elixir that will boost your immune system. However you can multiply its effect by infusing herbs in it.
Elderberries and rosehips are ripening right now so I thought it would be a great combination of herbs packed with antioxidants and vitamins. As I was searching for the right combination of herbs I came across a book from Rosalee de la Foret: Alchemy of herbs: Transform everyday ingredients into food and remedies that heal. She is a big fan of elderberries and uses them often in her herbal preparations. She is a practising clinical herbalist that classifies herbs into four categories - cold, hot, dry and damp. De la Foret consider Elderberry cooling herb so if you want to use them for treating of a cold it is good to add some warming herbs into the mixture such as ginger, cayenne pepper or cinnamon.
Having this in mind the immune-boosting elixir was beginning to shape.
Ingredients to make this immune-boosting fire-cider elixir
As I already mentioned if we want to call our elixir oxymel we have to use apple cider vinegar and raw honey.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Made of fermented crushed apples, apple cider vinegar contains acetic acid that is not only responsible for its strong sour flavor and smell but its health benefits. Its unfiltered version contains proteins, enzymes and healthy bacteria that are very beneficial for our health.
Raw honey, on the other hand, brings soothing and germ-killing properties to the partnership so together with apple cider vinegar they make a successful combination that works for ages but not only for its balanced sweet and sour taste.
Elderberries - when you want to make something that is effective against viruses and cold, you have to use Elderberries as they are considered top antiviral herb on the planet. These very high in nutrients herbs contain a high amount of vitamin C, phenolic acids, flavonoids and anthocyanins that are all considered strong antioxidants with anti-inflammatory effects. 4).
I like to add rosehips to Elderberries recipes like this tincture as they go well together, have similar properties and ripen at the same time. Rosehips are high in vitamin C when fresh. However, the amount of vitamin C greatly decreases with drying or cooking. For that reason, I used fresh rosehips that also contain antioxidants and possess anti-inflammatory properties (3).
Antiviral ginger in the fresh form is one the best herbs to fight a cold and flu. It is also very effective for a sore throat and body aches. It contains Gingerol that is responsible for anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects (1)
Cayenne pepper is a warming herb that supports circulation.
Garlic not only lowers blood pressure and improves the level of cholesterol, but it is also very effective in the prevention or treatment of a cold. This 12 weeks study found that using daily garlic supplement can reduce the number of colds by 63 %. (6)
Warming spice cinnamon is very often used for its antiviral and antifungal properties (3). It gives tasty hints to any herbal preparations and is also very effective when a fever and cough hit.
How to make fire cider with immune boosting herbs
Traditionally oxymels were made with 5 times more honey than vinegar which in today’s modern world is too sweet and heavy however you can always adjust the amount of honey to your taste. We will start with infusing herbs in apple cider vinegar first.
Gather dried elderberries, fresh rosehips, ginger, garlic, grapefruits zest and cinnamon and place them all in clean and sterilized 1 l jar (approx. 4 cups)
Add apple cider vinegar till all herbs are completely covered and jar is 3/4/full
Close the jar with plastic lid (if you have a jar with a metal lid, use parchment paper in between to avoid any corrosion)
Label the jar and place it in a cool, dark place out of direct sunshine for 4 weeks. Mix it occasionally and check if all ingredients are properly covered with liquid,
Strain the liquid through the strainer or cheesecloth making sure you squeeze every drop of elixir
Add 1 cup of raw honey to balance out the formula and let the rest speak for itself
Taste and you can still add more honey just to adjust the taste if you feel it is too sour.
What is this fire-cider good for?
- Supports immune function
- Antibacterial and antifungal
- Reduce sore throat
- Clearing mucus and congestion
- Supports digestion
- Supplies with vitamins
You can fasten the process by simmering the apple cider vinegar with herbs for half an hour, strain the herbs, let it cool to 40 degrees and add raw honey. However, some herbs will lose their medicinal benefits when exposed to high temperature.
Both Apple cider vinegar, as well as raw honey, are preservatives so if stored in an airtight container it can last up to 1 year. No need to refrigerate.
You may want to take 1-2 tbsp a day straight or dilute it with flat water or sparkling water
How to use this fire cider
- You can add 1 tablespoon into your hot tea
- Use it to make a vinaigrette instead of just adding apple cider vinegar
- As a wellness shot. Take a tablespoon or two straight.
- Add 1 tablespoon into the soup or sauce