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 Any new comments seeking to chastise me for the use of the word will not be published.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?
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.
I added fresh horseradish and ginger roots, onion, garlic, lemon, orange, habanero pepper, powdered turmeric, and raw apple cider vinegar.
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?
- 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!
- 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
- 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.