Fire cider fabulous folk medicine

By Sari Huhtala

Left with an abundance of fresh horseradish from my garden last fall, I decided December would be the ideal time to make fire cider – an herbal oxymel (acid and honey) remedy that makes a superstar addition to your home farmacy.

Originally coined by herbalist Rosemary Gladstar in the 1970s, fire cider is a fermented tonic that is made with apple cider vinegar, ginger, onion, garlic, cayenne, horseradish and honey as main ingredients.

The ingredients combined create a powerhouse nutraceutical that, once fermented and taken daily by the spoonful, can not only help ward off infections, but also boost heart health, and gut health and is considered good preventative medicine.

It’s tangy and a bit spicy, but the taste can be smoothed out by adding more honey, and it’s definitely something my tastebuds easily embraced, despite the fact I’m not a fan of very spicy foods. It warmed my belly, much like homemade kombucha does, and makes a lovely warming tonic for winter months. Gladstone recommends one tablespoon of fire cider a day for prevention, and up to three tablespoons a day at the hint of a cold or flu.

Apple cider vinegar is common in folk medicine due to its antibacterial and antioxidant properties, backed by scientific studies. In fact, a 2021 study –  Antibacterial apple cider vinegar eradicates methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus and resistant Escherichia coli –  found ACV effective in killing the superbug MRSA, as well as E-coli.

In addition to the basic fire cider ingredients recommended by Gladstone, to kick it up a notch I added organic lemon and organic orange peels, and fresh organic turmeric.

Fire cider recipe

Clean and sterilize a one-litre mason jar by boiling jar in water for 10 minutes, along with a plastic lid. Set aside to cool.


  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 8 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • 4 to 5-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • ½ cup of fresh horseradish, cleaned, peeled and grated
  • 4-inch piece of fresh turmeric, grated (optional)
  • 1-2 jalapeno peppers, sliced
  • Juice and grated zest of 1 organic lemon (optional)
  • Juice and grated zest of 1 organic orange (optional)
  • Fresh organic rosemary twig (optional)
  • Raw apple cider vinegar (about 4 cups – enough to fill the jar to cover all ingredients)
  • ¼ cup raw honey (added after 4 weeks of fermentation and cider is strained)

Place all ingredients, except for apple cider vinegar and honey, into the jar.

Pour apple cider vinegar into the jar to fully cover ingredients. Fill jar to about ½ inch from rim. Tighten plastic lid to seal jar. Shake well. Set aside in a cool dark place to ferment for one month. Try to shake the jar daily.

After one month, using a cheesecloth and a funnel, strain the cider into a clean, sterile jar, ensuring there are no plant materials in the final product, add ¼ cup raw honey, and seal with a plastic lid.

Fire cider will save for one year at room temperature, in a cool, dark place.

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