This time of year always begins with a batch of Fire Cider brewing and the brewing continues until the first sign of spring, though of course there's really no need to stop brewing no matter what time of year. Fire Cider... other names include Cyclone Cider, Dragon Water, etc., is a sweet, spicy, and sour blend of zesty herbs. Traditionally the recipe included ginger, horseradish, garlic, onion and cayenne in a base of apple cider vinegar. It has been attributed to many herbalists over many years and now you see it listed as a must in any kitchen, apothecary, outdoor adventurist's pack, hardy winter working hands, skier, snowboarder and anyone else who wants to shred all winter and keep warm! I first fell in love with it living in California where I would devour it by the bottle and only until I noticed there was 1 or 2 gulps left, did I actually slow down and gingerly sip it, until I knew the next batch would be ready. Upon moving back to the east coast and true winters...I learned of it's true prowess. Fire Cider does just that! Fires you up! It gets the circulation pumping from the core out to your fingers and toes, it activtes the mind and body so you are alive and ready for whatever comes your way! What's the point of living in Vermont if you can't continue to enjoy the outdoors through each and every season! It also keep you immune system in action and ready for what my come your way. Since when did a winter cold and flu become the norm?! Our bodies can be kept strong and ready so as not to succumb to the bug out there...keep moving, get outside and breathe fresh air, sleep well, smile and drink fire cider for your health! The herbs I use today, mirror the traditional herbs utilized, though occasionally I will add a variation. Ginger, for too many reasons to mention, is one of my favorite herbs and I will say I do go a bit heavy here. The beneficial properties of Fire Cider are well rounded and varied. As I mentioned above, most of the herbs have some degree of antibacterial properties and circulatory stimulating effects...it is an excellent tonic to see you through the winter months, helping you to ward off colds and flus and also keeping your blood warm. I will only scratch the surface here of their benefits...
Ginger helps to stimulate peripheral circulation, keeping your hands and feet warm and your brain active. It also provides added warmth to your second chakra center, (ah that's the loins by the way...!) which is always of benefit in these cool winter months! Ginger also aids in stomach issues including nausea and vomiting and sluggish digestion.
Horseradish, yet another favorite, has excellent antibacterial properties and is of much benefit in respiratory tract and urinary tract infections. It is also effective for promoting stomach secretions and is often used as a digestive agent. Garlic, ahhhhh garlic, what more need I say!
On to cayenne, which offers a more intense stimulating effect on the circulatory system than say ginger and is very useful to promote the movement of mucous from the body as well as acting as an anti-inflammatory, which often our whole body needs, both inside and out. So, all of this in a base of apple cider vinegar and bam! What you are left with, after a few weeks of patience and tempered desires to just open the damn jar, is a stimulating, fire inducing, antimicrobial, immune stimulating kick to the blood flow which will keep you warm, help remove wastes from the body and fight infection at the same time.
A basic recipe: Chop: 1/4 -1/2 cup fresh horseradish root, 1/2 cup fresh ginger root, 1/2 cup of onion, 1/8 -1/4 cup of garlic (depending on how much you like garlic), and 1/2 -1 fresh cayenne pepper or 1 tsp cayenne powder Place all of the above in a glass quart jar and cover with apple cider vinegar. To avoid the metal rusting on your metal mason jar lid separate the lid from the jar with a piece of unbleached parchment paper...or don't use a metal lid! Allow this yummy concoction to seep for at least 2 weeks or up to 3 months. My favorite results come after 6-8 weeks of seeping when the layers of ginger and horseradish have been allowed to fully unfold. The flavor will change as you go. Of course dive in at any point if you must.
When you have decided it's time to dig in...strain the goods from the vinegar into another glass jar. May be kept out of the fridge as vinegar is a natural preservative. If your blend is to spicy or you like it sweet...add some honey.
How to Use Fire Cider: My favorite way is to gulp, though since I know that's not the best way...I advise you to sip! 1-2 tblsp/day is a great dose as a tonic. It can be taken up to 3x/day with the first signs of a cold or upper respiratory tract infection. Another way to get your daily dose in is to use it as a base for a salad dressing or to flavor steamed veggies. Fire Cider can be used externally as a compress for sore muscles or to aid peripheral circulation. So, gather your roots together and spice up your life!