Fire Cider Tonic is a traditional herbal preparation that has been widely shared for decades. It is made with simple, readily available ingredients and can be tailored for individual needs and preferences. It is also a remedy that utilizes locally sourced, regionally native plants and herbs.
There are dozens of recipes for fire cider and they can be found from local herbalists, in herbal books or through a quick internet search. The basics are the same; warming roots, peppers, citrus, herbs, onions, garlic and apple cider vinegar. The ingredients are combined, placed in mason jars, covered with the vinegar and then steeped for several weeks. After steeping, the concoction is strained through cheesecloth and mixed with honey and stored refrigerated. It can be taken “straight” or used as a condiment or even salad dressing.
I first learned of Fire Cider Tonic through the renowned herbalist, Rosemary Gladstar and her books in the 1990’s. This was years before I started on the path to becoming a Midwife. Back when I was a home-study herbalist in my own kitchen, garden and community. I have been preparing it off and on ever since. Often, I change the ingredients, adding in seasonal items local to where I am. In all likelihood, no two of my batches have ever been exactly the same. This is part of the beauty and magic of not only fire cider, but herbal remedies in general. They grow and adapt, change and respond to the seasons and the environment.
Fire Cider is traditionally prepared in late Summer or early Autumn to have on hand during the cold Winter months to help prevent and treat colds and flu. It is safe for children (over one year old if you have added raw honey), adults, the elderly and pregnant and nursing folks. It is a true family remedy that can be made inexpensively and prepared in your own kitchen.
I would be remiss to talk about Fire Cider Tonic and not mention the current situation brewing about its’ origins and who can “own” the name itself. As stated, I first became aware of fire cider in the early 1990’s, Rosemary Gladstar started sharing the recipe years before that in her classes. Herbalists across the country have been preparing and sharing or selling their own recipes for decades.
Then in 2012, a private company in Massachusetts, began preparing and selling their own recipe, went a step farther and trademarked the name ‘fire cider’. Soon after they began sending cease-and-desist letters to herbalists who had been selling their own recipes for years. This started a long and heated fight to save the name for traditional herbalists and the Free Fire Cider movement began. In March of 2019, it all came to a head in the Massachusetts federal court when the issue was brought to trial. We are currently still awaiting a verdict as of this publication. You can read the words of Rosamary Gladstar on this issue in her article Tradition Not Trademark.
This year, when preparing my batch, I am holding all the herbalists personally involved in the Free Fire Cider movement close to my heart. I am also hopeful that the courts will make the just decision and uphold tradition over trademark. I added rosemary to this years batch as an homage to the herbalist, who decades ago, helped to open my eyes, intellect and heart to herbalism. My 2019 ingredients:
- Ginger root
- Jalapeno pepper
- Horseradish root