Fire Cider: Immunity Booster

With the Corona virus on the loose and a lot of us out here wondering what that will mean to us personally: What can you do to keep busy, and possibly, create something that could help at home?
I have been aware of this virus since it emerged. I’ve kept up on the subject as best I can, and it’s scary. For those who don’t want to deal with the possibilities that a lot of epidemiologists and statisticians have been reporting on over the past few months, stop reading here. I’m not out to argue with you.

Lemons and oranges roughly chopped.

For me: My family has a history of incredible hardship. From the Great Depression (that my grandparents faced), further back to the Donner Party (yes, THAT Donner Party… although we were the eatees not the eators), and most recently: round after round of strep throat with my kids (and because I would catch it, it caused me to have two separate pulmonary embolisms.) We finally gave up and had my kid’s tonsils out. We’ve all had great health since.

Shredded ginger and turmeric root. Don’t bother peeling these. If you can’t find any of these spices fresh, you can can sub out dried spices in a 3 to 1 ratio of fresh to dry measurements.

Since we have this background, and also because most of my family were farmers: we have a history of keeping a deep pantry. We have knowledge and practice in gardening and home canning and we always have home remedies on hand. Whether this recipe is going to help with this new issue: I can’t guarantee, but at least it won’t hurt. My family has learned over time, that you can help yourself to a certain degree, but for some of the more serious things: there is only western medical help that will save your life.

White onion

Fire cider is something I’ve been aware of for approximately ten years. It’s some potent stuff, and my family turns to it when there’s illness in our home. I started my home remedy journey with this fantastic book: Natural Health, Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine by Andrew Chevallier I have been using this as my “home remedy Bible” for a long time.You can get it here: Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine

There are things we’ve needed hospitals for, too. So, if you’re sick, get help. If you are wanting to boost your immunity or are feeling the beginning of a cold, add this, maybe it will help.

As anyone who has accidentally eaten too much of the green paste that comes with sushi knows, horseradish has an ability to clean out your sinuses and open up your chest. It is almost a super power. (They call it “Wasabi” here, but Wasabi is botanically different and hard to get in the United States. At your corner sushi restaurant: you are eating horseradish that is ground and dyed green.)

A lot of these recipes call for raw, fresh horseradish. My grocer sometimes carries these roots, but they’re big and expensive. I don’t feel like wasting money on something fresh if I can buy it jarred, and use as I need it. I added the jarred horseradish to my fire cider.

I don’t grow horseradish because it’s a brute and will take over, and I don’t need a giant root from the store that I would only reasonably use, at most, a quarter of. This will work just fine.

You can also find some things that the home remedy populous relies on: warming spices from Aryuvedic medicine, homemade elderberry syrup/sambucus, oil of oregano, mushroom complex, Monolaurin, colostrum and homemade Fire Cider. Those are the more popular ideas for immune help, but of course: there are all sorts of things you can try. Feel your way through this and do your own research, if your spidey reflexes are tingling: follow your inner “knowing”. You are the best person to decide what you should do, for you and yours. It is a deeply personal decision that you can choose to make for your family.

Crushing some whole cloves with my mortar and pestle.

I am not implying that this will cure you. From what I have heard: we have no immunity for what is coming and it is traveling at an exponential rate. So, this is my family’s last ditch effort to make us as prepared as I feel we can be.

Cinnamon sticks, ground black pepper, crushed cloves, cardamom, Italian seasoning on top of the chopped garlic, onion and horseradish paste.

How to make Fire Cider:

Your base will be apple cider vinegar. My mother had a friend who drank pickle juice every day and swore that was why he never got sick. I think we’re working on the same premise here. Adding an acid to the gut that is full of spices, oils, vitamins and prebiotics. On top of the vinegar, we will be fermenting some things.

If you want to add a vinegar “mother”, it can be added directly to this recipe at the bottom of the jar, or add just the liquid vinegar from a jar with the mother in it. They are both inoculated with the same thing. I used a half gallon of cheap apple cider vinegar and added some Bragg’s vinegar, on top, that has the mother in it.

Onions, garlic, cinnamon, prepared horseradish, cloves, cardamom, cracked black peppercorns, Italian spices, ginger, turmeric, lemons and oranges.

I have made fermented foods before and the idea of putting something on your counter, for a couple of weeks, to grow good bacteria (etc) is a little nerve-racking your first time through. I’ve had great experiences with home ferments, after overcoming my initial fears.

Here are some of the fermented things I’ve made, before, from other websites (these are things that I really recommend trying): Emergency Kimchi (I let mine ferment on the counter only 1 to 2 days and then finish it in the refrigerator, which gives you more of a fresh salad than an overly fermented sour flavor. I also use Chinese/Napa cabbage instead of green cabbage.) and this Lacto Fermented Salsa (again, I only ferment on the counter for a couple of days, until it starts to bubble, and then move it to the refrigerator. That way it continues to ferment at a slower pace. This gives it a fresh taste rather than a “wine” like flavor that can develop if you leave it out longer.) Both of these recipes are great ways to start into the world of fermentation. They aren’t a big shift in taste and you can ease your taste buds (and your digestive system) into longer ferments.

I do recommend peeling the onions and garlic because: as you do, you will be able to see if there are bad spots. I contemplated just chopping everything and throwing it in, but I did have a couple of soft spots in the garlic that I cut out. So, I’m glad I peeled them.
The only difference between the two jars I made: This is Korean red pepper powder. This is what I use in the Emergency Kimchi, too. I knew if I put this in the kid’s jar, they would never agree to take the cider. However, this is the “fire” part of fire cider. Although, you could argue that the heat (very different but still hot) comes from the horseradish. You can also substitute any hot pepper powder or chopped fresh hot chiles like habanero, jalepeno or poblano peppers.


Other additions that are commonly used are whole cut up lemons and oranges. You are putting into this ferment what Aryuvedic medicine (practiced in India, and other regions) considers to be “warming” spices. The W.H.O. (World Health Organization) has said when western medicine is unavailable, aryuvedic medicine is recognized as a valid source for health care in the countries that practice it.

The simplest way to weight your ferment down (to avoid mold growth or spoilage) is to put an empty jelly jar on top and let it float on top of the ferment. I then cover the big jars with parchment paper and run the ring down over it. I take this off and remove the jelly jar and stir the fire cider every other day. This has worked well for me.

So what are these “warming” spices? Any of these can be added: Cinnamon, allspice, ginger, nutmeg, chilies/hot peppers, black peppercorns, cinnamon, mace, nutmeg, cloves, coriander and cumin seeds, mustard, cayenne, garlic, and horseradish, ginger, turmeric, allspice, cardamom, cloves and spice blends such as garam masala, Chinese five spice and curry powder.About a week into the 4 week ferment. I did not put hot peppers in my kid’s ferment, since I’d never get them to take it if I did!

Another set of spices, this time from Europe, are also used commonly as both anti-viral and healing herbs. Some examples of these are: oregano, thyme, sage and rosemary. Oil of oregano is a powerful remedy for fungal infections etc, and I use it both internally and in my organic garden. This gives you a wide assortment of spices that you can use. You don’t need specific ones to be successful with this, use whatever you can find and afford.In this tutorial, I’ll show you what I decided to use. This all melds and mellows as it sits, and develops a deep, pleasing flavor. People use this on their salads and in cocktails. It really does turn out delicious even though the ingredients sound harsh.

Below I’ve linked to examples of tools etc for your convenience.

Fire Cider

  • Servings: 2 half gallon jars
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Tools Needed:
Food processor With A Shredding Disk Or A Manual Grating Tool
Two Half Gallon Mason Jars With Rings
Two Glass Jelly Jars
Parchment Paper
Long Wooden Spoon
Large Funnel
Wax Paper
Seive or colander
Cotton sack cloth, nut milk bag or cheese cloth

1 White Onion Peeled And Roughly Chopped
16 Garlic Cloves, Peeled And Roughly Chopped 
(Any Spices Used Below May Be Substituted As Either Fresh Or Dried In A 3 To 1 Ratio )
Large (Hand Length) Ginger Root:  (Shredded, Use A Food Processor To Make It Quick. For Dried: Use 2-4 Tbsps)
Box Of Turmeric Roots: Shredded As Above. (For dried use 2-4 Tbsps)
1 Tbsps Prepared Horseradish
1/4 tsp Cracked Black Peppercorns
1 Tbsps Crushed Dried Cloves
1 Tbsps Cardamom
1 Tbsps Italian Spices Mix
3 or 4 Whole Cinnamon Sticks
1 Orange Unpeeled, Washed and Cut Up
1 Lemon Unpeeled, Washed and Cut Up  
1 Half Gallon Of Apple Cider Vinegar Per Jar
About A 1/4 cup Of Vinegar With The Mother (Like Bragg’s Brand)
Honey To Taste (Local And Raw Are Ideal)

Add powdered spices, cloves and shredded ginger and turmeric to the bottom of the jar (eventually this won’t matter because you will be stirring the jar daily, but, it will keep the small fresh pieces from floating at the top of the jar, and possibly spoiling, if you layer it like this in the beginning.)
Add prepared horseradish
Add chopped onion and garlic
Add orange and lemon
Pour cider vinegar to fill each jar (minus the 1/4 cup of vinegar with the mother). Leave room to weight it with a jelly jar.
Add the vinegar that has the mother in it.
Float your jelly jar on the top of the ferment. Do not fill the jelly jar with anything.
Put a parchment paper cover across the large jar’s mouth and put the jar ring on and tighten it down.
Find a dark cool area to store your jars. I’ve got mine in a corner, on the kitchen counter, out of the way. Remove: ring, paper and jelly jar and stir daily for four weeks (replace jelly jar, paper and ring after each stirring.)

After 4 weeks: Take a cotton woven sack cloth, nut milk bag or several layers of cheese cloth and place it on the bottom of a large seive or colander. Put the cloth covered seive in a large bowl. Carefully pour the contents of the large jar through the seive. Allow to drain. Squeeze the rest of the juices out of the cloth-bound solids. Put the contents into a glass container (I just reused my Mason jars) Add honey to your taste preference. (Honey will make this more palatable for kids) Add a cover to the jar (because this is an acid, do not use a Mason jar lid unless you put a piece of wax paper between the lid and the contents of the jar, or your lid will rust) Place your fire cider in the refrigerator. Use within one year. If you have the cider turn into something that does not taste anything like what you start with, or if you notice mold growth: I would suggest getting rid of it. However: the vinegar should keep the cider’s small suspended solids from turning and refridgeration should keep the vinegar stable for extended periods of time. Honey is a preservative as well, and does not go bad. The small particles will sink and separate after sitting. You do not need to shake this to take it.
Dosage: (adults) work up to 1 Tbsps 2-3 times a day as a preventative (children) work up to 1 tsp 2-3 times a day as a preventative
Notes: start slowly with any fermented food. It can do a number on your gut if you ramp up the dose too quickly. This is also a good thing to remember with vinegar. Both can upset your stomach, so start slowly. Baby steps are best when you are trying to change your gut flora and acidity.

One of the reasons I make homemade remedies is that it is thought free, busy work. I can make something and stay in a place of creativity and calm. It’s also why I garden: it’s meditative. When the world gets yanked out from under you, there’s only so much fear and panic you can feed before it turns on you.

Finished fire cider. The difference in the two jars is the amount of honey I needed to add for the adults versus the kids. I’m putting a tsp of fire cider in a glass of water for them. My older boy really enjoys sour things but my younger one isn’t a fan. I’ll cut his amount down until it doesn’t bother him and we’ll work our way up from there. As I was taste testing this it warmed my stomach. The “fire” is actually a noticeable heat. Very tasty and worth my time.

Another simple thing that you can do for your immune system is to take hot baths. Here’s a video link explaining the benefits of sauna or hot baths and the immune system (And yes, there’s science behind it.) 

This was a bit of time where I had a small goal, and was able to accomplish it. It gave some meaning to the hours and days of quiet fear and anxiety. This may have zero effect on my family’s health, but it made me feel like I was doing something positive, and for that: it was worth the time to make it.

The ferment makes about 4 cups of fire cider per jar. Add honey to your preference.

I have also made my own sambucus from freeze dried elderberries and honey. I’ll put that recipe up soon.

Freeze dried elderberries.

I am home with my husband and my children, creating moments that I hope we remember fondly because of our positivity, and focus on family strength and love. I hope you find ways to make this time of waiting meaningful and relaxing. I’ll be keeping everyone in my prayers.

How are you spending your days during this period of waiting? What is keeping you going? How are you creating positive experiences? Let me know in the comments below.

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14 thoughts on “Fire Cider: Immunity Booster

  1. What a fascinating recipe and, given its ingredients, I can see why it would do you some good. I too like fermenting stuff though like you, I retreat to the fridge after a couple of days.

    1. It makes me wonder why fermentation fell out of favor to begin with. Although if they were only fermenting Sauerkraut, I’d stop too! Thanks for coming by! I appreciate the visit!

  2. Wonderful recipe. I’d be interested in your thoughts about the advisability of focusing on immune boosting. Some of the folks in my community are noting that the deadliest part of this epidemic comes from the over reaction of the immune system to the novel virus. They are advising to stick to the anti-virals for now, and to save the immune boosters (like elderberry) for after. Your thoughts?

    1. Elderberry has toxins. Nothing but the berries should be consumed and you need a safe recipe for making syrup. One that cooks the berries long enough to break down the lectin and cyanide in the seeds. It is not recommended as a prophylactic. But if you are getting sick, it’s been my experience that no virus can withstand the elderberry syrup. As far as building immunity, I think there’s probably more people with weakened immune system than not. I have low white blood cell count and have had it for years. So I do believe I need help there. But, that’s just my opinion. I encourage you to do your own research. I know cytokine storms are issues if you get vaccines for SARS coronavirus but I haven’t heard that being an issue with the infection itself. But, you are the best person to decide what you want to do, build up your immune system or wait it out without taking anything. I wish you luck with whatever you decide. I think we’ll all need it!

  3. Great post! I intend to try this. Thank you. I’m 71 and I’m trying to avoid going to any stores, but almost every store has a service so you can go online, choose your items, then pick them up at the curb. I’ve done this, then thoroughly wiped the packages down at home with bleach water or washed the oranges etc. in a sink filled with mild bleach water. It helps to pick things that are sealed in non porous packages. I’m determined to not catch this, and to enjoy life in the process. Everyone stay well! Thank you for another great post!

    1. I think everyone has their own ideas about safety and where they want to draw the line, but sometimes it isn’t possible. I’m really glad that you have found services that help you stay away from interacting with people that may be sick. Right now our grocer is backed up weeks for curbside and delivery. Unfortunately, when we need something for the kids we’ve had to go to the store. We avoid going out as much as possible, but sometimes we’ve just had to go places. In our part of Texas people are out doing things as much as ever, although our grocery stores are completely empty from panic buyers. It’s definitely scary how fast this is spreading. Good luck and stay well!

  4. Nice post! These are great safe ways to boost the immunity. I’m surprised removing tonsils helps with health as well! I’m spending this time potty training at home. Lol.

    1. Our boys were so resistant to potty training! I thought we’d never get them out of diapers. My sister in law had her boy out of diapers before he was a year. I honestly don’t know how she did it. She got him sitting on the baby potty within weeks of being able to sit up. Our tonsil removal journey was the doctor’s choice and I do not recommend it unless you are stuck with constant strep. We had strep throat every two weeks for two years. My husband was military and out of state during that time and I was raising the kids alone and constantly sick. It was awful getting them over the pain of swallowing after the tonsillectomy. They wouldn’t eat and they were miserable. But, I haven’t had another embolism so I guess I’m glad we did it. We really didn’t have many other choices. None of us have had strep since and I am still kicking, so it’s all good. Thanks for coming by, and good luck with the potty training!

      1. Yeah, my sis had strep growing up… it was serious. Thanks for letting me know the facts scout removal of tonsils. My son is getting it slowly… veeery slowly.

  5. Wow. What a formative post. Thanks for the info. Praying you are doing well.
    Just wanted to let you know I have nominated you for the Sisterhood of the World Blogger Award. Whether we’re keeping in touch daily or it’s been awhile , I am grateful for the fellowship God has allowed, and I am praying for you as often as the Lord allows. Stay safe and well during this time.
    Below is the link to your nomination. Please do not feel obligated to participate, nor rushed if you do. Do as the Lord leads you!
    God loves you!

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