I had heard of fire cider for years before I attempted to make my own. Even though I was intrigued by the idea of this cold- and flu-fighting tonic, I think I avoided trying it for so long because I incorrectly assumed it tasted like fire. The flavors incorporated are certainly powerful, but I’m happy to report that this is a tonic designed to stimulate heat inside your body, not start a fire in your mouth. Little did I know that this simple folk remedy would become the key ingredient in my favorite salad dressing.
Rosemary Gladstar, a renowned herbalist, is said to have coined the name “fire cider” and taught the method and base recipe to her students beginning in 1979, encouraging them to use the name and recipe in their own making and marketing of the mixture. Then in 2014, fire cider was the source of a different kind of heat in the form of a five-year lawsuit that resulted in a striking legal precedent that no corporation can trademark a generic herbalist term. For the herbalist community, this fight (and victory) represented the heart of what folk herbalism is all about: recipes that freely belong to communities and families, not corporations.
There are countless variations, but the core components are raw apple cider vinegar, raw honey, onions, hot peppers and horseradish. Aside from that, it’s up to your imagination. This recipe fills a quart jar, but when I make it, I try to make anywhere from five to 10 quarts at a time. In addition to taking a spoonful in the mornings, it can be used in marinades, sauces, in a glass of sparkling water for sipping, etc.
I’m sharing two recipes, the version of fire cider I’ve been making since living in the Southwest and another for the vinaigrette, which dresses up my salads in the most delicious ways throughout the year. Note: I am not a medical expert. While fire cider has been made, enjoyed, modified and sold by thousands of herbalists over the years, this recipe is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice.
Southwest-style fire cider
Makes: around 3 cups;
total time: four weeks
½ cup chopped ginger, skins scrubbed well and left on
½ onion, peeled and diced
¼ cup chopped fresh horseradish, skins scrubbed well and removed before
1 head of garlic, all cloves removed from skin and chopped
1-2 jalapeños, chopped and seeds left in or out depending on your heat preference
3 dried chiles, stems and seeds removed
2 tablespoons fresh turmeric chopped, or 2 teaspoons dried turmeric
1 teaspoon dried juniper berries
1 teaspoon dried culinary lavender
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
Around 3 cups of raw apple cider vinegar
¼ cup raw honey
Preparation: In a glass jar, add the ginger, onion, horseradish, garlic, jalapeño, dried chiles, turmeric, juniper, lavender, thyme, oregano, rosemary and apple cider vinegar. Place a small piece of parchment paper under the lid before closing. Store out of the sunlight at room temperature for four weeks. Strain through a fine mesh strainer, extracting the most amount of vinegar from the mixture as possible. Whisk in honey. This will keep at room temperature for 18 months.
Fire Cider Vinaigrette
Makes: ¾ cup of dressing; total time: 1 minute (if you take your time)
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup fire cider
Pinch of salt and pepper
Preparation: Add oil, vinegar, salt and pepper to a glass jar. Secure lid tightly and give it a shake. Now it’s ready! Use for any kind of savory salad. Store in the fridge for a week.
Marianne Sundquist is a chef, food business consultant and shares recipes for home cooks on Instagram @chefmariannesundquist. She owns the catering business Daya, which has shifted for the time being into an online general store, sourcing and delivering pantry staples to area residents. Visit dayasantafe.square.site and email her at email@example.com.