Fire Cider in the Kitchen Today

Last year, I took a couple "home herbalist" workshops that were sponsored by the local food co-op and taught by a really sweet, amazingly knowledgeable, and enthusiastic herbalist, Maria Noel Groves.  I really appreciated her approach, (which was just what I was hoping for), as it's very focused on botany and medicine without veering off into the realm of "mystical properties of herbs".  I was cautiously intrigued by the idea of the healing properties of the plants and herbs God has given us for food and healing, but wasn't about to embrace trees or howl at the moon to keep my family healthy.

I appreciated what she had to say that herbal remedies are gentler on our systems than traditional medicine, although they may take longer to work.

But the trick is to have these things on hand AND know how to use them before you get sick. A two-month bout of bronchitis this year left me languishing on the couch feverishly pondering what sort of herbal remedy might help me feel better, but with no energy to research or prepare any sort of concoction.  So, prior to the next cold and flu season, I'm determined to have a couple herbal remedies ready and waiting on the pantry shelf.

Fortunately, Maria Noel Grooves has a fabulous website (which she updates often), Wintergreen Botanicals, and it is just packed with information and recipes!  I decided that the first I would attempt would be Fire Cider.

When anyone in our family feels a cold coming on, we reach for some Airborne or drink down an Odwalla or Naked Juice vitamin-C packed smoothie.  We find both to be pretty effective, but they are expensive and they are not as handy to get (at least when you live 30 mins. from a grocery store) as reaching for something on the pantry shelves would be.  Fire Cider essentially does the same thing...boosts your immune system and helps you fight off the nasty germ!

I gathered the essential ingredients from the same food co-op, from our garden, and from the pantry: an onion, horseradish root, ginger, garlic, hot peppers, salt, and pepper.  You can get Maria's recipe here, or watch a video (click here) on making it from Rosemary Gladstar (whose recipe Maria's is based upon).  Rosemary Gladstar, a legend in the herbal community, really goes into lots of details on the specific benefits of each ingredient.

It's not really rocket science, and you can adjust the ingredients slightly to suit your taste, but I based mine off Maria's recipe and from a ratio I found online of using equal parts horseradish, garlic, and onion to 1/2 part ginger. (I opted to thinly slice the horseradish instead of grating it.) So, for me it looked like this once it was all sliced.

I packed it all into a quart canning jar and added two sliced jalapeno peppers (one red, one green), about 1/2 t. kosher salt, and a handful of peppercorns.

Then, over it all, pour Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar to cover.  Cap tightly and give a good shake.

Then you let it sit for four weeks, shaking occasionally.  At the end of that time, strain it all through a cheesecloth lined sieve, and add honey to taste.  It should be sweet and fiery.

From what I've read online, you can take 1 T. a day to keep your immune system up throughout cold and flu season.  If you feel a germ getting its grip on you, you can take that same dose every three hours.

Next on my list is gathering all the ingredients to make Maria's Red Sore Throat Soother!

If you are interested in her "Home Herbalist" series, which I cannot recommend highly enough, she offers those classes online!

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