Fire Cider Health Tonic

by | Dec 15, 2017 | Cold and Flu Season, Fermented Foods, Fire Cider, Tonic, Winter

Fire cider is an apple cider vinegar health tonic. It’s raw, nutrient-dense ingredients are steeped for 4-6 weeks. It has many healing properties: stave off colds and flus, increase circulation, move toxins out of the body, stimulate digestion, break up congestion, and reduce inflammation. Consume small amounts daily starting in the fall and all through the winter months as a preventative measure (2-3 tablespoons per day). Consume larger amounts if not feeling well to shorten sick time (2-3 tablespoons 3Xday). Caution: some ingredients will neutralize if heated.

Serving Alternatives:

  • Straight up
  • Mix with tea (relieve congestion by breathing in the steam as you sip), cocktails (tasty in a Bloody Mary), lemonade, orange juice, or just plain ol’ water
  • Mix it or leftover solids into guacamole or salsa
  • Drizzle on sautéed greens or steamed veggies
  • Add to chilis and soups
  • As a salad dressing or marinade
  • Use leftover solids as a relish over a burger, salad, eggs, etc.

Fire Cider Recipe


  • 1⁄2 cup peeled, finely chopped garlic (about 10 cloves)
  • 1⁄2 cup peeled, finely chopped horseradish
  • 1⁄2 cup peeled, finely chopped onion (about 1 medium)
  • 1⁄4 cup peeled, finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1⁄4 cup peeled, finely chopped fresh turmeric or 1 heaping tablespoon ground turmeric
  • 1 small orange (preferably a blood orange), quartered and thinly sliced crosswise
  • 1⁄2 lemon, quartered and thinly sliced crosswise
  • 1 habanero chile, or 2 chiles pequíns, or 1⁄8 teaspoon ground cayenne
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 2 to 3 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons to 1⁄2 cup honey, to taste


  • Place all of the vegetables, fruits, herbs, and spices in a clean 1-quart jar.
  • Fill the jar with vinegar, covering all the ingredients and making sure there are no air bubbles. Leave ½ inch of head-space and make sure the ingredients are submerged.
  • Wipe the rim of the jar with a clean cloth. Cap the jar. If using a metal lid, place a piece of parchment or wax paper between the jar and the lid to prevent corrosion from the vinegar. Shake well.
  • Let the jar sit for 3 to 6 weeks in a cool, dark place, shaking daily (or as often as you remember).
  • Strain the vinegar through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean jar, pressing on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard or use the solids as you please.
  • Add honey to taste, 2 tablespoons up to ½ cup.
  • Refrigerate and use within a year.

I really encourage you to have fun and create your own fire cider according to your tastes and available ingredients. In fact, I make it a little different every time. In some batches, I use spices like cinnamon and cardamom or add vitamin C-rich rose hips. Other times I use ground cayenne or dried chiles rather than fresh habaneros or jalapenos. If you use ground chile, start with a small pinch; you can always add more to taste after you strain the vinegar.

If you’re a fan of spicy foods, you might take to fire cider right away, tossing back shots to get your blood flowing on a cold winter day. If you have a more timid palate, you might want to dial back on the chile, sweeten with extra honey, and start with small dashes of fire cider in your food rather than drinking it straight.

Reprinted from Wild Drinks and Cocktails, by Emily Han and published by Fair Winds Press, 2015.

If you are in need of this amazing tonic right away and yours isn’t quite ready for drinking, or you didn’t get around to making a batch like you intended… not to worry! There is an incredible local Fire Cider Tonic that is sold here in Portland: Mind You Manna – Fire Brew. It’s also available at most Whole Foods Markets.