DIY

I Tried Making ‘Fire Cider’ To Boost My Immune System, And My Sniffles Disappeared The Next Day

by Kim Wong-Shing
Kim Wong-Shing is a staff writer at LittleThings. Her work spans beauty, wellness, pop culture, identity, food, and other topics. She is a contributing writer at NaturallyCurly, and her work has also appeared in HelloGiggles, Lifehacker, Wear Your Voice Magazine, and other outlets. She grew up in Philadelphia, attended Brown University, and is now based in New Orleans.

The other day, I came down with what I like to call the “Woman Flu.” It’s like the Man Flu, complete with overdramatic groans and endless complaints, except that I’m a woman.

Because why do men get to have a monopoly on exaggerated illnesses?!

As you may know, there is no “cure” for viruses like the Woman Flu (which are, 99% of the time, just a regular cold). After a week of convincing my partner to make me soup and tea, and lying in the bed lazily, I got better without any real medicine.

But even though there’s no cure for the common cold, there are ways to boost your immune system. A stronger immune system means that your body can heal more quickly, and you’re less susceptible to illness in the first place.

One all-natural immune system booster that’s popular in earthy circles is fire cider.

Fire cider is a strong, spicy, acidic drink that consists of all the natural ingredients that are well-known for their healing benefits: lemon, garlic, turmeric, ginger, horseradish, and all types of herbs. Because this is a folk remedy, people tend to come up with their own personally tweaked versions. Most recipes use apple cider vinegar and honey as the base.

Fire cider traditionally takes several weeks to make. But sometimes, the Woman Flu threatens to come back for you like two weeks after you finally got rid of it, and you can’t rightfully ask your partner to take care of you for a whole week again, and you also really can’t afford to get sick right now. In that case, you can make an instant version of fire cider in about five minutes.

I made an instant batch of fire cider using ingredients that I had in my cabinet already. It burned my throat — that explains the name — but I felt all better the next day.

Here’s how you can make your own version at home!

What Is Fire Cider?

What Is Fire Cider?
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Fire cider is a traditional folk health tonic that contains ingredients like garlic, ginger, hot peppers, and horseradish. These herbs are then infused into apple cider vinegar. Sound delicious to you? Yeah, not really. Fire cider is a strong drink; it’s not for the faint of heart.

Fire cider is designed to get rid of bacteria and viruses more quickly, clear your sinuses, warm you up, and boost your immune system. Taste isn’t really the priority here. That said, this is a homemade folk recipe, so there are infinite ways to customize it to your own liking.

If you, like me, tend to get sick anywhere from one to one thousand times during the cold-weather season, it’s helpful to have a batch of fire cider on hand. Use it as a cold preventative, or swig it like mad to speed up your healing when you’re sick.

Traditionally, fire cider is made by steeping the solid ingredients in apple cider vinegar for several weeks, then straining the solids out of the liquid. This is great to make in advance. But if you feel a cold coming on and want to nip it in the bud quickly, that’s where instant fire cider comes in.

Fire Cider Ingredients

Fire Cider Ingredients
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Fire cider traditionally contains the following ingredients:

  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Raw honey
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Hot pepper
  • Horseradish
  • Lemon juice and zest
  • Herbs such as rosemary, thyme, ginger, and echinacea

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This ingredients list is completely customizable, though. I couldn’t fathom putting horseradish or onions into a beverage (sue me!), and I also didn’t have any in my cabinet that day, so I left those two ingredients out. I added ginger and turmeric instead.

I used Bragg apple cider vinegar as my base. It contains “the mother,” also known as that weird floating stuff at the bottom that apparently contains tons of health benefits.

This also seemed like the perfect opportunity to use my two batches of DIY infused honey, so I used some of each.

Lastly, I opted to use ground cayenne pepper as my hot pepper. You can also use jalapeño peppers, whole cayenne peppers, or your spicy pepper of choice.

Instant Fire Cider Recipe

Instant Fire Cider Recipe
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Both traditional and instant fire cider are incredibly simple to make. You just pour all the ingredients into a jar and shake it.

In the case of traditional fire cider, you let the jar sit for about a month, then strain the solid ingredients out, and add honey to taste. In the case of instant fire cider, you can just shake and sip.

Here’s how I made my instant version.

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First, I added 1/2 cup raw honey to a large glass jar. I used half ginger-turmeric-infused honey and half lemon-infused honey. You can use whatever honey you have around, though raw and local honey is preferable!

Then I added one clove garlic, crushed.

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And then I added my dry spices. I opted to use as many ground spices as possible rather than whole, to make this instant fire cider easily drinkable right away.

I used 1 tsp. ginger powder.

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And 1 tsp. turmeric powder.

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And 1 tsp. cayenne pepper.

Kim Wong-Shing/LittleThings

And lastly, 1/2 tsp. black pepper.

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Then I added the juice of one whole lemon into the jar, taking care to remove any seeds. You can also add the zest of one lemon, but since my infused honey already had lemon zest in it, I skipped that step.

Looking pretty gross so far!

Kim Wong-Shing/LittleThings

The last step is to add the vinegar. Add about 8 oz. vinegar.

Kim Wong-Shing/LittleThings

Then shake it up until the ingredients are well-blended.

Kim Wong-Shing/LittleThings

I poured some of the fire cider into a shot glass immediately. It definitely has a STRONG taste, but the honey helps to add a pleasant sweetness. Honestly, I thought I would hate the taste, but I started to look forward to my next sip. It’s like a yummy dressing or sweet hot sauce!

I took a couple shots of fire cider that night. The next morning, I took another. By the end of the day, my sniffles and the itchiness in the back of my throat were gone. No weeklong illness. I’d call that a success!

How to Use Fire Cider

How to Use Fire Cider
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If you’re sick, take one spoonful of fire cider two to three times daily. If you’re using it as a preventative, drink a spoonful once per day.

There are as many ways to consume fire cider as there are to make it. Drink it straight, like I did, in the form of a sip or shot. Add it to boiling water to make a tea. Add it to hot toddies or cocktails. You can even add it to cooked food or salads!

Store the extra fire cider in the fridge. As it steeps, it’ll become stronger and stronger — just like traditional fire cider. However, if you choose to add lemon juice like I did, that will shorten the shelf life. You should consume it within a month. If you don’t add lemon juice, the fire cider will stay fresh in the fridge indefinitely.

Happy healing!