Immune-Boosting Home Remedies: Fire Cider

Image: The Kitchn Happy cold & flu season, everyone!

But seriously: everyone I know is either getting over being sick, or fighting off sickness, or talking about how sick they are. The fall, with all its immune-stressors, has arrived!

There are so many ways to go about staying healthy at this time of year, and you've probably heard them all: wash your hands compulsively. Don't sit around in wet clothes. Keep exercising. Eat balanced, whole foods.

Those are all good places to start. If you feel a tickle in your throat anyway, though, or if you really want to boost your immune system, it might be time to go above and beyond.

I'm talking about fire cider, people.

If you've heard of or, better yet, tasted fire cider before, you might be having a visceral reaction right now. Generally made with horseradish root, ginger, onions, garlic, lemons and apple cider vinegar (among other ingredients), fire cider is a natural tonic that's not for the faint of heart.

However, no pain, no gain: this infused vinegar beverage is a great way to give your immune system a kick start.

You can mix up a batch and keep it in the fridge, and then start taking 2-3 tablespoons a day if you feel your body starting to fight off a bug. You can also take a teaspoon a day preventatively, or use the cider as vinegar on your salad for the same purpose.

Before there was Buckley's, there was fire cider: it tastes bad, and it works.


Fire Cider Recipe

Adapted from The Kitchn

  • 1/2 cup peeled and diced horseradish
  • 1/2 cup peeled and diced garlic
  • 1/2 cup peeled and diced onion
  • 1/4 cup peeled and diced ginger
  • 1/4 cup peeled and diced turmeric
  • 1 habanero chile, split in half
  • 1 orange, quartered and thinly sliced crosswise
  • 1/2 lemon, quartered and thinly sliced crosswise
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons chopped thyme
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 2 to 3 cups raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar (at least 5% acidity)
  • 1/4 cup raw honey, or more to taste

Place all of the vegetables, fruits, herbs, and spices in a clean 1-quart jar. Fill the jar with vinegar, covering all the ingredients and making sure there are no air bubbles. Cap the jar. If using a metal lid, place a piece of parchment or wax paper between the jar and the lid to prevent corrosion from the vinegar. Shake well.

Let the jar sit for 3 weeks, shaking daily (or as often as you remember). During this time you can take liquid from the jar to consume; after 3 weeks strain the vinegar into a clean jar.

Add honey to taste.

Refrigerate and use within a year.

Makes 1 pint or more.