How to Make Fire Cider: Recipe & Health Benefits | The Old Farmer's Almanac

How to Make Fire Cider to Boost Health

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Make Apple Cider Vinegar Tonic for Health

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Fire cider! Try this age-old remedy to strengthen the immune system and ward off cold-weather illness. Made with healthful herbs stewed in apple cider vinegar, this drink is remarkably easy to make. See the health benefits, a fire cider recipe, and how to use it!

What Is Fire Cider?

Fire cider. The very name sounds like something you might want to try. Or run from.

This potent tonic is the modern reincarnation of a home remedy that has been used for generations to help ward off winter colds, flus, and other infirmities. Many folks mix it into salad dressings or festive grog. 

Indigenous healers have been brewing herbal vinegars for millennia. In fact, humans began making vinegar as long as 10,000 years ago, using it in food and drinks, for food preservation, and for many medicinal and antiseptic purposes. Anywhere in the world that you find apples, you’ll find cider vinegar remedies.

The traditional recipes call for some combination of grated fresh horseradish, ginger, garlic, onions, turmeric root, and hot peppers soaking in apple cider vinegar for 3 to 4 weeks, then finished with honey to balance the acidity.

I like to add additional flavor-rich herbs and fruits. Other recipes, including mine, include dried or fresh leafy herbs, a few whole spices, and dried fruits or sliced citrus fruits.

Apple cider vinegar. Photo by Phongnguyen1410/Wikimedia Commons.Photo by Phongnguyen1410/Wikimedia Commons.

Benefits of Fire Cider

While fire cider is more of a folk remedy, there have been several studies that have shown that the tonic helps the body balance blood sugar levels. There have also been studies demonstrating cider vinegar’s ability to fight infections. And yet other studies have shown the tonic aides weight loss with 1 to 2 tablespoons daily leading to reduced belly fat.

We can tell you this for certain: This strong vinegar tincture extracts healthful phytocompounds from a variety of medicinal plant materials. Most of these ingredients contain phytochemicals known for their strong digestive, antiviral, antiseptic, and/or decongestant properties. 

Admittedly, a drink made with fresh horseradish, garlic, ginger, and chile pepper sounds a little off-putting. I think it tastes great. Start with a daily shot to get blood flowing on a cold day. Or you can’t handle the bite, sweeten with extra honey.  It’s worth it—a potent punch that is immune-boosting, antibacterial, and antiviral. Your immune system will thank you!

Try it out! All of the ingredients are inexpensive and easily accessible.

Fire Cider Recipe


  • Start with a quart (4 cups) of raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar (at least 5% acidity)
  • About 1/3 cup grated horseradish and ginger roots
  •  1/4 cup peeled and diced turmeric (or 2 tablespoons dried, powdered turmeric)
  • Half a dozen cloves of minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup peeled and diced onion
  • 1 or 2 habanero chiles, split in half (or, use cayenne pepper)
  • One large lemon, sliced rind and all (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped rosemary (or 1 teaspoon dried)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried)
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley (optional)
  • A cinnamon stick, a few allspice berries, and a few whole cloves (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  •  1/4 cup raw honey, or more to taste

The degree of “fire” in the blend depends on how many hot peppers you add!

As a precaution, I use only organically grown roots, herbs, and fruits to keep agricultural chemicals, waxes, or dyes from migrating into the vinegar.


  1. Place all of the vegetables, fruits, herbs, and spices in a clean one-quart jar. Fill the jar with apple cider vinegar
  2. The apple cider vinegar should cover the herbs by an inch or two. Seal your cap tightly. If you cap your jar with a lid containing metal parts, screw the lid on over a piece of cooking parchment or a small plastic bag to keep the lid from corroding. Shake well.
  3. Let sit for a few weeks to soak. Shake daily (or when you remember).
  4. Then strain off the plant materials from the vinegar. Sweeten with honey to taste. Honey not only adds sweetness, but also blends all the flavors in fire cider nicely.
  5. Refrigerate and use within a year.

Yes, to the uninitiated, the mixture sounds as if the final product will taste awful, but you’ll be surprised at how the ingredients mellow as their flavors blend in the vinegar! Find the right mix of sweet, spicy, and sour for you.

How to Use Fire Cider Tonic

  • Some herbalists recommend taking a tablespoonful of cider tonic daily as a preventative during cold and flu season, swallowing it right off the spoon.
  • Or, add it to a cup of juice or hot tea, perhaps with a bit of honey. You could also mix with lemonade or orange juice. Diluting apple cider vinegar is best because undiluted vinegar can erode dental enamel.
  • Or, you can drink a or take teaspoonfuls throughout the day when you feel a cold coming on. Others use it as a gargle at the first sign of a scratchy throat.
  • Mixed half and half with honey, it makes a good cough remedy. (Don’t feed honey to children less than a year old.)
  • Use it as you would plain vinegar in dressings for salads, in marinades for meat or tofu, and vinegar-based sauces.
  • Drizzle on steamed vegetables or sautéed greens
  • Add to soups and chilis
  • Try a couple of dashes in a cocktail, such as a Bloody Mary

Final note: As with any herbal remedy, please consult with your healthcare professional. Vinegar, and perhaps some of the herbal constituents, may interact with prescription medications or have negative effects on some health conditions. Apple cider vinegar is not recommended for ulcer sufferers.

See if your body feels better, clearer, and healthier with this apple cider vinegar tonic!

2023 Almanac Club