Photo by sveta_zarzamora via getty images

For when the sniffles hit you hard

Rebecca Firkser
January 16, 2018

It’s been freezing (like, really, really freezing) in many parts of the world recently. Naturally, with the bitter cold come the colds. For the next few months, at least 5 of your coworkers and 2 of your close friends will be sniffling and coughing during the morning meeting or weekly happy hour. Much as you enjoy their company, you don’t want their sickness. Whenever I’m feeling under the weather, I dip into my fire cider stash. An apple cider vinegar-based tincture of sorts like oxymel (a mixture of honey and acid, sometimes herbs), fire cider is packed with alliums, peppers, citrus, and herbs and left to ferment for weeks. Oxymel and related mixtures like fire cider have been used as herbal remedies for centuries, soothing coughs and congestion. As you can imagine, the heat in fire cider packs a wallop, and the brew will knock a bug out of your system with ferocity—or at least that's how it feels. Just know that while there’s nothing wrong with sipping on fire cider to soothe your symptoms, if you have a fever, terrible cough, or any other flu-like symptoms you should still see a doctor.

If you’re feeling crappy right now, you don’t have time to waste. For moments like these, you need a quickie version. Squeeze one lemon and half an orange into a large bowl or measuring cup. Stir in 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar. Dissolve ⅛-¼ teaspoon ground cayenne, ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric, and ½ tablespoon honey into the juice. Using a microplane, mortar and pestle, or some similar system, finely grate about 2 teaspoons raw garlic and 1 tablespoon fresh ginger. Stir the ginger and garlic into the juice mixture. 

If you’d like, let the mixture sit for an hour to infuse, or just drink it now: you can take it as a shot or mix 1 shot into a few ounces of water or seltzer. Hot water works too to make a tea of sorts, but make sure it’s not boiling—that can diminish the antiviral and antibacterial effect of the honey.

For the real-deal fire cider, you’ll need to wait at least 2 weeks for the brew to reach its full potency. Place the following ingredients in a clean mason jar: ¼ cup each peeled and diced fresh ginger, onion, and horseradish. Add in 1 tablespoon fresh grated turmeric (or 1 teaspoon dried) and 2 tablespoons fresh grated garlic. Slice 1 serrano or jalapeno pepper in half (discard the seeds if you’re not good with heat), and add that to the jar. Toss in the zest and juice of 2 lemons. If you’d like, add 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary and 1 tablespoon fresh thyme to the jar. Fill the jar to the brim with unfiltered apple cider vinegar, making sure that the vinegar covers all the ingredients. If using a metal lid, first cover the jar with a piece of parchment or waxed paper, then tightly screw on the lid. Shake the jar to combine, then leave it in the fridge for at least 2 weeks, shaking daily.

After 2 weeks, you can strain the mixture into a clean jar and sweeten it with honey to taste.

Fire cider can be taken by the tablespoon the moment you feel a cold coming on, or it can be made into a drink with seltzer, hot or cold water, or even fresh fruit juice. Use it within 1 year.

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