Alternative & Holistic Health, Health, Herbalism

Earth Medicine: Fire Cider

Ruzuku Collage WFGM 2 900 x 300 9One of my autumnal herbal rituals is collecting seeds, berries, nuts and roots for making medicines for my home apothecary and for culinary treats and gifts. Mama Earth provides us with what we need when we need it: the seasonal availability of the various parts of local plants typically support the dis-eases or ailments of that season.

In Autumn we may need a balance to the Water-y energy that abounds, seeking foods and medicine that warm us up or dry us out a little, if our systems become congested. For instance,  many of us tend to get a cold, flu or bronchial/lung infections (cold and damp) in the Winter, as we return to the indoors, breathe recycled air and feel a lower energy due to the lack of light.  The seeds and berries we collect in Autumn make wonderful immune-boosting tonics, such as elderberry syrup, rose-hip honey, and more. Seeds (and dried herbs) can also be used for culinary purposes . . . who doesn’t enjoy a salt blend made with rosemary or nettles or other herb?

But one of my favourite activities is making infused vinegars (aka tinctures when the ratio of herb to vinegar is stronger), which can be used for both culinary and medicinal purposes. They can definitely bring in the warming heat we may need.

Recently I’ve been sharing some of my concoctions on Instagram and in the Wise Woman Bean Gealach Circle on Facebook.

Fire Cider

Each Autumn I start a new batch of Fire Cider, an immune boosting immunity boosting concoction formulated primarily from energetic roots.  These ingredients carry the Earth energy of Mama Earth, growing in the dark in the soil, but also the Fire energy to balance the Water of Autumn . . . spicy and hot!

I love making Fire Cider, a combination of herbs, spices and veggies…and honey. Each batch tastes a little different, depending on what you throw in and the energetics of your local ingredients.

Herbalist Rosemary Gladstar popularized this traditional recipe, and shares how to make it in this video:

How to Make Fire Cider

Start with:

  • Equal parts of  Garlic, Horseradish and Onion (I used 1/2 cup of each)
  • Half part of Ginger (I used 1/4 cup)
  • Apple Cider Vinegar (organic is best, preferably with “the Mother”, but any ACV is fine!)

From there, you can get creative, adding your favourite roots and spices . . .  perhaps a pinch of cayenne, jalapeños, chilli peppers, elderberries, allspice, peppercorns, turmeric, citrus peel, dandelion root, rose hips, burdock root, sprigs of thyme or rosemary and any others local to you which have their own terroir, reflecting the local nutrients, light, soil and more.

Today I added turmeric and Scotch Bonnet peppers and will likely be adding peppercorns, a sprig or two of rosemary and maybe some dandelion root.

This is not an exact science . . . let your intuition and taste buds determine what is the right amount of each ingredient.

Chop/grate all ingredients finely and add to a one-litre jar (or any other preferred size)

  • Cover ingredients with Apple Cider Vinegar, fill jar to “shoulder”, then  seal with a lid
    • Vinegar corrodes metal, so if your lid is metal, be sure to place a layer or two of waxed paper or cling film atop the jar before adding the lid
  • Label the jar and lid with the date started and a list of ingredients
  • Store in a cool dark place and let your blend sit for a month, checking and shaking it up from time-to-time
  • Strain and decant and (OPTIONAL)  add honey or other sweetener to taste. This adds another layer of immunity, as honey is anti-bacterial.
  • Decant into a clean jar, and label with the date and ingredients

How to use Fire Cider

  • for those who love (and can tolerate) vinegar as is, take a shot (no more than 2 tablespoons) daily (and several times a day at the onset of a cold)
  • for those who start the day with hot water and lemon, consider substituting an equal amount of Fire Cider for the lemon 
  • use in cooking: adding a plain or spiced vinegar to a vegetable stir fry (or to a bone broth) helps extract the minerals, making them more accessible for processing by your body
  • spice up your Clamato, vegetable, tomato, apple, lemonade or orange juice with Fire Cider to taste 
  • use in a salad dressing

With Autumn now upon us, this is a perfect time to start a batch! And after your first taste, you may feel compelled to start another batch!

I just started another new batch!


Update

Some of you have asked what I do with the plant materials after I have strained and decanted the jar. It varies, to be honest, depending on the ingredients used and the texture once strained. I’ve thrown some into stews, stocks, stir fries, and once made a spicy relish. Worst case, into the compost!
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