Fire Cider: Health Tonic and Homeopathic Remedy

To anyone visiting for the purpose of discussing my use or perceived misuse of the word “homeopathic”: I am using a casual definition of the word supported by google, WebMD, and Merriam Webster: “That is, if a substance causes a symptom in a healthy person, giving the person a very small amount of the same substance may cure the illness. In theory, a homeopathic dose enhances the body’s normal healing and self-regulatory processes.” I will not be discussing this issue any further. Any new comments seeking to chastise me for the use of the word will not be published.

Important Note: I am NOT under any circumstances claiming this will cure anything. I’m laying out a recipe that is both delicious and nutritious. I am also explaining some of the purported health benefits of the ingredients that go INTO the recipe. This post is no substitute for professional medical advice, but is a classic folk tonic/remedy. I trust you all to use your own best judgment in the manner.

Wait! Don’t run away screaming! I know I’m in serious danger of sounding like an irredeemable hippie, but I have something really, really FUN for you today. I have a savoury, spicy, infused vinegar. Yes. Two infused vinegars in a row! This one is only slightly more complicated than the Coconut Infused White Balsamic Vinegar in has it has a few more ingredients and requires a bit more chopping and grating, but beyond that, it’s every bit as easy, it just requires more patience. Before I get to why, I want to get to the reason YOU SHOULD MAKE THIS! For starters, it tastes awesome. I mean AWESOME. Oh, and did I mention it’s a health tonic?

Fire Cider: Delicious Health Tonic and Homeopathic Remedy (and cooking ingredient, to boot!) foodiewithfamily.com

I have a little true story to explain to you how a girl who makes Crispy Cheesy Barbecue Chicken and Bacon Egg Rolls also makes Fire Cider Health Tonic. It  all began with me hopping in my car and driving eight and a half hours to Maine to spend four days with my friends and fellow bloggers; Bakeaholic Mama, Nutmeg Nanny, Running to the Kitchen, and our friend Candace. We spent our days wandering Portland, Maine eating donuts, duck fat french fries, ice cream, bubble tea, cookies, more duck fat fries, fried cheese curds, fried chicken skin banh mi, bacon dusted french fries, and washing it down with beer. Have you noticed the theme? Rich food on rich food on richer food. It was great stuff, but oy. We were overstuffed.

We wandered into the Cabot Cheese Shop where the clerk enthusiastically offered a sample of something called Fire Cider to us. Give that I have been known to drink pickle juice and/or a shot of raw apple cider vinegar each morning (more on the health benefits of that in a moment), it didn’t take much to convince me to try it. It was a SHAZAAM moment. It was a savoury liquid infusion with an amazing balance of tangy raw apple cider vinegar, horseradish, garlic, onion, ginger, and citrus with just a hint of honey. It was exactly what we all needed to de-sluggify all of us after our rich food benders. Brandy, Carrie, and Gina grabbed a bottle. I grabbed two.

When I got home, my husband looked at me sideways when I told him what it was, but he drank the sip I gave him and his eyes grew huge as he declared, “THIS IS GREAT! We’re going to need to keep this around!” I went online to order a larger quantity and discovered that the manufacturer had a bit of controversy surrounding them because fire cider was an old folk remedy and health tonic made by many herbalists and the company had trademarked the name. Okay, well, knowing me, you’ll probably have realized at this point that when I read I could make my own, that was a foregone conclusion. Would I regularly buy a product from a company that had trademarked a word that was the herbal world’s equivalent of t-shirt and was enforcing that trademark or would I make my own? Well, um, duh?

I wanted to make one as close in flavour to the one I had purchased, so I used my only superpower (identifying flavours in a dish) to figure out what I wanted to put in my fire cider.

Fire Cider: Delicious Health Tonic and Homeopathic Remedy (and cooking ingredient, to boot!) foodiewithfamily.com

I added fresh horseradish and ginger roots, onion, garlic, lemon, orange, habanero pepper, powdered turmeric, and raw apple cider vinegar.

Fire Cider: Delicious Health Tonic and Homeopathic Remedy (and cooking ingredient, to boot!) foodiewithfamily.com

Not to put too fine a point on it, but I nailed it.

And  I had to wait 4 weeks to KNOW I nailed it because it takes that long for the flavours to infuse. Yeah. Um. Did I mention you need to be patient?

So how is this a health tonic and homeopathic remedy?

Let me count the ways:

  • Fresh horseradish is known to be effective against the flu and common cold, tonsilitis, respiratory disorders, urinary tract infections, and pathenogenic fungus.
  • Ginger is used to treat arthritis, muscle pain, upset stomach (motion and morning sickness and general nausea), gas, upper respiratory tract infections, and cough.
  • Onions are used to boost cardiovascular health, bone and connective tissue benefits, and as an anti-inflammatory agent.
  • Garlic is used to treat high blood pressure, high cholesterol, coronary heart disease, heart attack, atherosclerosis, asthma, building the immune system, help level blood sugar, and is used topically to treat fungal infections.
  • Habanero peppers boost your metabolism, and offer headache, sinus, and arthritis relief as well as releasing endorphins.
  • Oranges are great for heart health, as part of a best-case-scenario-anti-cancer-diet, fighting cholesterol, to help in weight loss, and to break up or prevent kidney stones.
  • Lemons are known to aid in digestion, alleviate Meniere’s Disease, kidney stones, and ringing of the ears, cure scurvy (chronic lack of Vitamin C), treat colds and flu, improve the function of blood vessels, and reduce inflammation and retention of water.
  • Turmeric is pretty much the be-all and end-all of health foods. It’s known to delay liver damage, reduce carcinogenic compounds in other foods, make cancer cells more vulnerable to chemo and radiation, inhibit the growth of malignant melanoma and breast cancer, alleviate arthritis symptoms and skin conditions. Heck, maybe I should let the experts describe what the main compound in turmeric -cucurmin- does. Advanced Experimental Medical Biology in 2007 states that, “Curcumin has been shown to exhibit antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and anticancer activities and thus has a potential against various malignant diseases, diabetes, allergies, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease and other chronic illnesses.”
  • Raw apple cider vinegar (not plain old cider vinegar!) is known to be a good source of acetic and ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), mineral salts, amino acids, and other key components of good nutrition, but it is also a well-loved folk remedy thought to ease digestion, fight obesity and diabetes, wash toxins from the body, kill lice, and reverse aging. Does it do all of that? I dunno. But it surely tastes good and it’s nutritional value is undisputed.
  • Raw honey (locally produced) is a fantastic, all-natural fighter of seasonal allergies. Because bees collect pollen from flowers in your area and then convert it to honey to feed their hives, eating raw, local honey is like a tasty allergy shot. It’s also full of vitamins and minerals, anti-fungal, anti-viral, and makes a great, non-narcotic cough suppressant and throat soother.

The beauty of this, beyond its all-star cast of healthy ingredients, is that it just plain tastes wonderful. We drink a tablespoon (or more!) every morning to maintain health. Well, okay, we MAINLY drink it because we like it, but the health benefits are nice. When you feel ill, take a slightly larger dose to help boost your immune system. Word has it on the street that it’s an extremely effective hangover cure. So, I want to know… are you curious enough to try it? What do you think?

Fire Cider: Delicious Health Tonic and Homeopathic Remedy (and cooking ingredient, to boot!) foodiewithfamily.com

Cook’s Notes

  • There’s not too much to this, just grate or chop everything up and put it in a jar. That’s where I’m going to caution you. If you cannot or will not use a plastic lid, do lay a piece of parchment paper on the rim of the jar before fixing your lid in place. Raw apple cider vinegar is quite likely to motivate a canning jar lid to rust or discolour. You’d hate to have all your waiting and work ruined by a rusted lid. Replace that parchment sheet every week or so.
  • I prefer to use Bragg’s Raw Apple Cider Vinegar (amazon affiliate link) for my Fire Cider. I always keep it on hand because I love the flavour and I also love the health benefits it offers. Because it still has the ‘mother’ in it, it packs a higher nutritional punch. I understand that Trade Joe’s and Whole Foods also have in-house brand versions that are great.
  • I’d advise you to use organic produce if at all possible. This way you won’t be infusing your lovely health tonic with anything you wouldn’t want to have in it.
  • When you grate your horseradish, make sure you do it in a well-ventilated area or you will regret it. That stuff packs some serious oomph and will empty your sinuses in 30 seconds flat.
  • When it’s time to strain your Fire Cider Health Tonic & Homeopathic Remedy, line a colander with butter muslin, a muslin tea towel, or a double layer of super fine cheesecloth, and set it over a large, stable pot. Pour the contents of your jar into the lined colander and let it drain for 30 minutes. After the 30 minutes, pull the corners of the cloth together and twist to squeeze the contents until you cannot squeeze any more liquid from it. You may reserve the solids for tossing in stir-fries or discard them.
  • You’ll notice there is not an actual quantity of honey listed in the recipe. You should add this to taste. We tend to like ours less sweet, you may prefer yours more so. Start with 1/4 cup and whisk it well, then add 1 tablespoon at a time, whisking after each addition, until you reach your desired sweetness.
  • It’s best to choose raw, locally produced honey for the benefits listed above. The second choice is raw honey. The third choice would be pasteurized commercial honey.
  • Store your finished Fire Cider Health Tonic & Homeopathic Remedy in a sterilized wine bottle or canning jar. Store in a cool, dark cabinet for up to a year.
  • Oh! I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you that the finished Fire Cider  is fabulous as a flavouring agent for cooked greens or in salad dressings. Boost your health while enjoying your dinner!

Fire Cider: Health Tonic and Homeopathic Remedy

Rating: 51

Ingredients

  • 1 large horseradish root, about 7 inches long (scrubbed very well)
  • 1 large ginger root, about 7 inches long
  • 1 large onion, root and stem end removed and peeled
  • 1 large orange
  • 1 lemon
  • 16 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 2-4 habanero peppers, stems removed
  • 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
  • raw apple cider vinegar
  • raw honey

Instructions

Grate the horseradish and ginger roots. Roughly chop the onions, orange, lemon, garlic, and habanero peppers. Stuff them into a half-gallon glass jar with a tight fitting lid or divide evenly between two quart sized canning jars. Sprinkle the turmeric in on top (dividing evenly between the two jars if using quart jars). Pour the raw apple cider vinegar in over the contents, allowing it to settle in through the crevices and adding more so that the contents are submerged. Lay a piece of parchment paper over the rim of the jar, then screw the lid tightly in place. Let the mixture sit in a dark, cool place, allowing it to marry and infuse for 4 weeks, shaking once daily.

After 4 weeks, pour the contents into a muslin or cheesecloth lined colander positioned over a stable pot. Let it drain for 30 minutes, then gather the corners of the cloth, twisting and squeezing until you cannot release any more liquid. When it's fully strained, add honey to the liquid to taste and pour into a sterilized wine bottle or canning jar. Store in a cool, dark place for up to a year, shaking well before using.

http://www.foodiewithfamily.com/2014/08/08/fire-cider-health-tonic-and-homeopathic-remedy/

Comments

  1. kate C. says

    This sounds interesting and pretty good. However, I strongly urge you to not call this a homeopathic remedy! If you read about homeopathic medicine you will see that it is defined as diluting something many, many times. The theory is that a tiny bit of what ails you can actually make you better. Homeopathic remedies are so dilute that they are essentially water. This is clearly NOT what your recipe is! You could call it ‘natural’ or maybe a folk remedy, but it is thankfully not real homeopathy… though this scientist almost couldn’t click the link with that word in the title!

    • says

      Thanks for your input, Kate. I won’t quibble over the title (which will stand), but by that definition, raw, local honey does count as homeopathic since it contains the pollen of the plants that trouble you. You’re right that much of what is in there has a straight up, definable health benefit in pretty large quantities, though!

      • kate C. says

        No, but see that’s my point! There actually is pollen in the honey, whereas true homeopathic remedies are so dilute that in order to contain an actual molecule of the substance they were diluting you would have to drink an entire ocean… or for some remedies: a container larger than the Earth. There is actual pollen in honey, just like there’s actual allergen in allergy shots, those things aren’t homeopathic. Homeopathic practitioners believe that the water retains a ‘memory’ of what it was shaken with during the dilution process so it doesn’t matter there aren’t any molecules of it. OK, I’ll stop now, it’s just a huge pet peeve of mine when things that aren’t homeopathic remedies are called that because it confuses people and gives these dishonest folks selling actual homeopathic remedies some legitimacy by association!

      • says

        Actually, I AM here listening to both of you. I respect your opinion enough to let it stand here in the comments where I’m pretty much the law (since it’s my site and I hold the ability to delete anything and everything) but -simply put- I disagree that my use of ‘homeopathy’ is far enough off of an accepted definition to change it.

        Again, I see enough value in this health tonic that I hope you can put your differences aside and try it. Have a great day!

        • Bayard Bastedo says

          Rebecca, I have to weigh in with those who says your elixir is not homeopathic. Homeopathy asserts that disease can be cured by a substance that in a well person causes the complaints of the sick person. “Like cures like” is homeopathy’s motto.

          Your tonic sounds marvelous. May it cure many!

  2. wendy says

    This sounds interesting! I might have to give it a try. I’m just wondering, does it takes very strongly of horseradish? My husband really doesn’t like horseradish, but I can get away with putting a very small amount in sauces – just enough to add a little flavor, but not enough that it is obviously an ingredient. Do you think I should cut back on the horseradish in this recipe for him? Or would that ruin the taste? What do you think? Thank you for your fun blog!

    • says

      Oooh. That’s a little tricky. I wouldn’t say horseradish defines the TASTE of this, because it’s in with a bunch of other strong things, but it does have the volatile oils in it that make horseradish so pungent when you sniff it… From what I understand of herbal remedies, you’re welcome to tinker around with proportions in order to get the effects and flavours you’d like. I’d say it’ll definitely change its flavour-profile, but I say go for it if that makes the difference between your hubby drinking it or not! Maybe make two batches (split in 2 quart jars)? One like this (as a control) and a second with a lower proportion of horseradish then you can test both!

    • pamela says

      I had some of Rebecca’s brew today, and I couldn’t pick out the horseradish. I could pick out the citrus, the hot pepper, the ginger, and the honey. But not the horseradish. (And I’m pretty sensitive to it, too.)

    • says

      Not being a full-on herbalist, I couldn’t tell you! I know I feel better taking it every morning, but maybe someone with deeper knowledge could weigh in on it?

  3. says

    So so so so pumped you figured out how to make it so now I can make my own. I have been taking it daily and my constant heartburn is gone… which is weird because I would have thought it’d cause heartburn because of the bit of heat and of course the acidity.

    Also…. tastes flipping great in coleslaw ;)

  4. Sarah says

    Sounds very tasty but be careful about the health claims. Acetic acid is not vitamin C (that’s ascorbic acid). For any active ingredient you also need to consider the effective dose range. Paracetamol cures headaches. But you need to know how much to take. One tenth of a tablet won’t do anything. One hundred tablets will kill you. Turmeric has been show to have anti-carcinogenic effects in vitro but is very poorly absorbed form the human intestine. As stated above, homeopathy is something else entirely.

    • says

      Good catch on the acetic acid. There was SUPPOSED to be an ascorbic acid in there, too. I must’ve backspaced through it. AGAIN, I say (which I did say in the post) that these are claims of health benefits and linked to each of the sources I used to describe the purported (another word I used) health benefits.

      • PJ says

        ascorbic acid is not even real C either. Its derived in a lab from gmo corn :(
        Acerola cherry powder or rosehip powder are good choices. Though the rosehip can be rather stimulating!

  5. Pimmie says

    This sounds very good! And what a good timing with the end of the summer rushing up on us. I am so going to make this!

  6. Jana says

    thanks for the recipe! I have been needing a good recipe for this! I am always looking for natural ways to keep the family healthy. Do the kids drink it? Not sure if I could get mine to.

    • says

      Funny you should mention that :) I have TWO kids who willingly drink it and three for whom I believe it will be an effective gauge of whether they’re really ill. “Oh you don’t feel well? Try this. It will make your immune system stronger!” If they don’t drink it, I will know they’re faking :)

  7. says

    So like you I have no issues drinking pickle (or olive) juice. Been doing that since I was a kid and I know a shot of vinegar in the morning is really good for you but there is something stopping me. I’m intrigued though, very very intrigued.

  8. TiffH says

    This sound great. Totally want to make it and give it a go! But the bottles you stored yours in…… I want those more. I’m sure it’s tastier being poured from petty bottles. Please let me, Where did you buy those?

  9. Debbie says

    Homeopathic remedies are made in pharmacies under FDA supervision because they are classified as a medicine and are listed in the US pharmacoepia of medicine along with pharmaceutical drugs. Herbs and oils are not regulated but homeopathic remedies are.

    • says

      Thanks for your input, Debbie, but the title will stand. If you google “homeopathy definition” you will get “the treatment of disease by minute doses of natural substances that in a healthy person would produce symptoms of disease.” by that standard, I’m comfortable with my usage.

      • Debbie says

        Good because your post will catch the eye of homeopathic organizations who will review your claim according to their professional standards and not a dictionary’s definition.

          • says

            I do not mean to sound terse, but this is not a commercial product and has not gone through testing for market, it’s a free recipe and I trust people to differentiate between the two.

  10. Elizabeth says

    I am making this today! Am I correct in assuming that you add the honey at the end after it is strained? Thanks so much….keep up the awesome work!!

  11. Debbie says

    Concerning the title of this post: Homeopathic remedies are legally protected as OTD drugs and claiming it to be homeopathic without the proper registration and oversight from the FDA is a federal felony.
    Promoting a homeopathic product that does not meet the professional standard can be investigated by the FDA to determine if it is fraud.
    If this drink was posted as a home remedy or health drink, I see no problem.

    • says

      Let me me clear. I am not claiming it cures anything. I am saying it holds true to a certain meaning as I understand it and that meaning differs from your preferred (legalistic) definition. Under the circumstances, it is NOT a claim that it will cure you, I am NOT selling it, I am saying it fits a definition.

  12. Susan says

    Do you peel the oranges, lemons, ginger, etc first? I don’t see it listed but assume you do…definitely want to try this.

  13. Lisa says

    Finally ran down the horseradish root after collecting all the rest of it only to realize I drank the Bragg’s vinegar and my only local source is also out! Might have to have it shipped from Amazon. I’m so excited about making this! Thank you sooo much for sharing all these recipes! It’s exciting to see new recipes to try! The green bean pickles are next!

    • says

      You could use jalapenos if you’re concerned about the habanero heat, Jana, but there’s really not a spicy KICK to this… It’s background more than present, and there’s no lingering heat. All that being said, you know your tastebuds better than I do… if any heat would bother you, I’d try the jalapenos instead!

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