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Fire Cider | Horseradish, Chilli & Apple Cider Vinegar

Fresh horseradish, ginger, chilli, turmeric, onions and citrus - ingredients for Fire Cider

Before winter is over altogether I must tell you about Fire Cider – my new favourite tonic to ward off winter ills. Despite all attempts to remain virus-free, I got sick this year. It was nothing but a nasty cold but it left me with a hacking cough for weeks and sinuses so blocked I felt like my head was under water. I work in an open plan office and at the height of my suffering it seemed that everyone else was sick too. For several weeks all I could hear was a chorus of coughing and complaining; rows of desks were half empty, and those who remained stumbled around bleary-eyed pumping hand sanitiser into snotty palms. Even the ABC agrees that it’s been a rough winter for bugs so I’ll take all the help I can get, even if it means swilling apple cider vinegar infused with horseradish, chilli and onion in the name of health (I know it sounds disgusting, but stay with me).

Apple cider vinegar infused with horseradish, chilli, onion, garlic and turmeric - a great winter tonic

Yes, we are deep into hippy territory now, but don’t fret, I’m not about to go all Gwyneth Paltrow on you and insist on the benefits of putting steam and jade eggs inside your vagina or $200 smoothies that contain enough weird mushrooms to sound a bit like microdosing (go Gwyneth!). Coffee enemas, rose quartz and mandalas aside, you’ve probably already guessed that I’m a bit alternative at heart. I’m no stranger to homemade remedies and have always been partial to nutrition and herbal medicine over doctors and pills. I make my own kombucha, treat indigestion with aloe vera juice and always have a bottle of tea tree oil in the cupboard. Nothing too fringe, I swear; just small efforts to limit my exposure to chemicals and maintain a sense of balance in a rush-rush world. Now excuse me while I go order my ground fossils, also known as Diatomaceous Earth powder (no really, I just did that).

Turmeric, horseradish, chilli and lime

Making Fire Cider - winter herbal health tonic for the immune system

Who am I kidding? I’m a sucker for self-medication and it’s a bonus if I can concoct it myself. As published in Martha Stewart Living (and we all know how trustworthy Martha is) Fire Cider was created in the 1970s by US herbalist, Rosemary Gladstar, as a home remedy for winter colds and flu. The principle is simple – take naturally fermented apple cider vinegar and a selection of herbs and vegetables known for their medicinal properties, macerate together for several weeks, strain, mix with honey and drink. It’s all stuff you can get at your local supermarket and nothing weird at all (see recipe below). You can drink it straight (although be careful, as vinegar is extremely acidic), or do as I do, and mix 1-2 Tbsp in a small glass of water. The dilution has the effect of making the mixture surprisingly tasty in a spicy, onion-y, savoury way; in fact, a bit of vodka wouldn’t go amiss if you wanted to turn your morning health tonic into a herbaceous martini (no irony intended).

Fire Cider - immune system tonic based on apple cider vinegar and herbs

Look, roll your eyes over this one if you must, but I can tell you that each dose of this pungent, fiery, garlicky liquid was heaven to my clogged sinuses, or maybe that was the phenylephrine that I was simultaneously ingesting in a desperate bid for relief…? Since I confounded my own experiment I’ll never really know but I’ll try it again next year as a preventative. Until then, because winter isn’t entirely over yet, I’ll continue to start the day with a swig of medicinal vinegar and yes, I feel pretty virtuous about that.

Disclaimer: I am not a trained health professional, just a regular human being. Make up your own mind how to live your life (except for jade eggs – can we all just agree not to do that?).

Update 24/9/17: currently shot down with September colds (both of us) but having Fire Cider in the fridge is almost as good as having our Mums cross the Tasman Sea to do the laundry and make some soup. Thanks for the foresight, past self.

Apple cider vinegar infused with horseradish, chilli, onion, garlic and turmeric - a great winter tonic

Fire Cider

  • Servings: makes about 1 litre
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Adapted from A Year in Food

1 cup diced, fresh horseradish root (buy a piece that weighs about 125grams)
1 cup diced, fresh ginger
1 cup diced, fresh turmeric root
1 cup diced onion
2 small heads garlic, cloves peeled and diced
4-8 hot chilies, sliced
2 lemons, quartered and sliced
2 limes, quartered and sliced
750ml to 1 litre raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar
2 litre jar, with a lid
Runny honey, optional (1/2 cup)
1/2 tsp sea salt

This is a guide rather than a strict formula so adjust the quantities and ingredients to fit what you can get (and organic or spray-free if possible).

Clean, dice and slice all of your ingredients, layering them in the jar as you go. It really doesn’t matter how you fill the jar, but I couldn’t help alternating bland coloured ingredients with brightly coloured ones to increase the visual appeal.

Once all of the ingredients are in, fill the jar with apple cider vinegar, leaving a couple of centimetres space at the top. Screw the top on the jar (if you only have a metal lid, place a square of baking paper between the jar and the lid, otherwise the vinegar will cause the metal to rust slightly). Place the jar in a dark corner, out of the way of direct sunlight but in a place where you’ll remember to give it a shake now and then. Let the mixture brew for two weeks, or longer if you prefer.

After two weeks, strain the liquid from the solids through a sieve lined with fine cheesecloth. Stir runny honey and salt into the liquid until dissolved. Use a funnel to fill sterilised bottles, and store in the fridge. I used about 800ml vinegar to start with and ended up with just under one litre of Fire Cider, once the runny honey was incorporated.

Take your Fire Cider at the rate of 1-2 tablespoons per day, straight down the hatch or diluted with a little water.


  1. I am about to make a batch of this today as the weather has turned autumnal. I love vinegary things anyway so this is perfect for me.
    My French grandmother used to make vats of cassis and had a sherry glass of it everyday to ward off germs. It was much thicker and gloopier than the stuff you buy. Too sweet for me everyday but occasionally is fine. But this, I could see myself having ….. with vodka at weekends!!

    • Cassis, that’s made with blackcurrants right? Sounds like she was onto something, as it would be full of vitamin C and antioxidants (and the alcohol would have been a nice bonus!). I hope that you like the cider – and no, it’s not sweet at all.

    • Since posting this I found out that my sister makes a similar kind of thing using onions, garlic, lemon, ginger etc soaked in honey or brown sugar. Her kids call it “plague juice”, so yes, this stuff is powerful and I bet it will fight off the Ann St germs for you!

  2. my husband loves apple cider vinegar, sometimes he’ll take a shot of it for i don’t even know what. i think he would like it and since we will be getting the cooler temps soon enough.

    how long will it keep in the fridge?

    • I’m honestly not sure Lan. Opinions seem to vary widely – some say that provided you keep it in a cool dark place, it doesn’t need to be refrigerated and will be ok for up to a year. Others say store it in the fridge and use within a month. I put mine in the fridge and my current batch is over six weeks old and still going strong. Apple cider vinegar is a fantastic preservative (I’m still drinking a batch of pineapple shrub that I made six months ago) so as long as it’s in the fridge I’m not going to worry about it spoiling. You could always halve the recipe if you’re worried about using it up within a reasonable timeframe.

  3. I’m struggling to get past those damn jade eggs Chez …… but I must, I really must. I’m with “blondieaka” on this.

    The Fire Cider sounds somewhat more palatable. I had collected my own recipe for this sometime ago, and then promptly forgot about it ( this winter I relied on my tumeric paste for Golden milk). But this does look good and sounds efficatious, so may well do a batch to ward off the change of season lurgies.

    • Golden Milk is far more delicious than this! Fire Cider is unashamedly medicinal (unless you take me up on the vodka). Interesting that you already have a recipe. There are countless variations on the web and it seems like anything goes, apart from a few staples like the onions, horseradish and vinegar of course. I saw a recipe for a more herbal one featuring rosemary, sage and thyme – sounded really good. As for the jade eggs, put them from your mind Michele! They are taking up valuable space 😂

      • Mine came in pictogram style … and and I have no idea where it came from. But I find it very weird that I came across it when reorganising electronic recipes the night before your post popped up. Very twilight zone.

  4. Pingback: Fire Cider: Horseradish, Chilli & Apple Cider Vinegar | PliscaPlace

  5. Pingback: Fire Cider: Horseradish, Chilli, Apple Cider Vinegar. – The Militant Negro™

  6. Love this… it sort of reminds me of an updated version of the onions and brown sugar concoction my mum used to force down me…lol.. I used to get the worst cough…I have reposted this on WP 🙂 Great recipe! Jade eggs?? Mr Google here I come…lol

    • It’s a witches brew alright! Many of those old fashioned remedies have a sound basis (some don’t though!) so it’s great to see them coming back. We pop far to many pills for our own good. So, I have to ask, what are you thoughts on Gwyneth’s jade egg method?!

      • When I have read up on it, I will tell you…I haven’t heard of it although I don’t read celeb news anymore..Just going to check and will let you know 🙂

      • Just Oh! A women, who promotes vaginal steaming and Jade eggs… PLEASEEEEEEEEEEEEEE… She cannot be serious….If you could see my face…lol.. I now know why I don’t read this utter **** This is as bad as those glitter pills for the same area….

  7. Pingback: Fire Cider | Horseradish, Chilli & Apple Cider Vinegar | Retired? No one told me!

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