Pat’s Cayenne Fire Cider


From the Vitality Food Feature ‘FIRE UP YOUR WINTER MEALS‘.

The name sounds daring, and the brew is ablaze with the energy of healing ingredients. This natural sinus, cold and ‘flu folk remedy has been home-brewed for eons by herbalists, naturalists, and anyone who has learned of its efficacy. Grated horseradish root, garlic, onion, ginger, and hot peppers are the main ingredients that are steeped in organic unpasteurized apple cider vinegar, but you can develop your own amounts and combinations. Before my horseradish plant grew large enough for me to actually dig the roots, I developed the following simple and very potent blend. Now I add the horseradish, but you can omit it if you can’t find fresh root.

See the Resources section for a link to herbalist Rosemary Gladstar’s Fire Cider method [2] and visit the Mountain Rose Blog [3] to read about this well-known herb supplier’s Fire Cider.

If you are passionate about protecting the rights of individuals to make and use folk remedies and folk names without the threat of having those recipes or names being trademarked, you might be interested in following the trademark battle between three small business owners who are being sued by a company that has trademarked the term, ‘Fire Cider’. You might even opt to support their cause by making a donation. See the Resources section for the website that explains the grassroots movement to cancel the trademark on ‘Fire Cider’. [4]
(Makes about 4 cups)


  • 25 whole fresh cayenne peppers
  • 1 head garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
  • 1 cup fresh ginger, grated
  • 3 – 4 cups raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar (ACV)
  • Optional Ingredients:
  • 2 cups fresh horseradish, grated
  • 6 sprigs fresh rosemary, horehound, thyme, sage, parsley
  • 2 onions, chopped

1) Clean and slit, or halve, the peppers. Loosely pack them into a one quart mason-style jar. Add garlic slices and ginger. Add horseradish and other optional ingredients, if using. Fill the jar, covering the ingredients with vinegar, leaving a half-inch space.

2) Make sure the peppers are below the vinegar, and cap the jar with the 2-piece lid. Set aside in a cool, dark cupboard for a month or longer.

3) After steeping the ingredients, you can refrigerate the jar (although it isn’t required). If you don’t strain the vinegar, you can fish out, drain, and use the chiles, garlic slices, and ginger in recipes until they are finished. Alternately, you can strain the vinegar and make syrup as follows.

4) To make a cough syrup:

5) Strain the steeped vinegar into a 6-cup measuring cup, pressing on the solids to extract as much vinegar as possible. Discard the solids.

6) For every cup of strained vinegar, add 1/4 – 1/2 cup (to taste) liquid honey. Stir well or heat over low setting in a saucepan to melt and combine the honey. Pour into 1-cup jars, cap, label, and store in a cool, dark cupboard.

7) Serving suggestions for unsweetened steeped vinegar:

8) • Take one tablespoon of vinegar in a glass of warm water with one to two teaspoons of honey every morning for its tonic benefits.

9) • Substituting steeped vinegar in recipes that call for regular vinegar (salad dressing, dips, spreads, sauces, and other condiments) will infuse them with the healing benefits of Fire Cider.

10) • Cough Syrup: Take one tablespoon at the first sign of a cold and repeat every two to three hours until symptoms subside.

Pat Crocker Pat's mission in life is to write with insight and experience, cook with playful abandon, and eat parsley with gusto. Author of 24 cookbooks, Crocker holds a degree in Food, Nutrition, Consumer, and Family Studies (Ryerson University, Toronto) and is a culinary herbalist with more than 1.25 million books in print and several translated into over 11 languages. She was honored twice by the International Herb Association’s Professional Award, and also received the 2009 Gertrude H. Foster award from the Herb Society of America for Excellence in Herbal Literature. Her books, The Juicing Bible and The Vegan Cook’s Bible (both published by Robert Rose) have won “Best in the World” awards from the International Gourmand Culinary Guild. Read all about parsley and over forty other herbs in Pat’s latest book, The Herbalist’s Kitchen (Sterling Epicure) now available in bookstores everywhere and on her website.

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