Fire Cider: The Cold-Fighting Remedy You Haven’t Heard of (Yet!)

It's called fire cider, and it's super-spicy, extra-potent concoction made from apple cider vinegar. It might make your eyes water, but it could also wake you up, ward off colds and more.

Some of the best ways to soothe a cold isn’t for sale at your local pharmacy—they’re folk remedies handed down from grandparents (and grandparents’ grandparents). Think of a hot toddy when you’re feeling under the weather or a hot bath mixed with Epsom salts.

The newest wellness booster? Fire cider, a spicy drink with an impressive list of potential benefits, including knocking out a cold—or even preventing one.

Feeling under the weather? Add these whole foods to your diet, stat.

What is Fire Cider?

A potent drink made from raw apple cider vinegar fermented with roots, vegetables, fruits, and herbs. It’s a homeopathic folk remedy that’s recently gaining mainstream popularity.

What’s in Fire Cider?

Fire cider starts with raw apple cider vinegar, a popular health drink in its own right, which is made from fermented apples and packed with “good” bacteria. It’s combined with chopped onions, grated horseradish, garlic, and ginger. Some cooks add lemons, oranges, hot peppers, or turmeric to the mix.

To make it at home: Fire cider is very customizable. Combine ingredients to your liking in a clean, sterilized canning jar and shake well. Make sure the vinegar reaches the top of the jar and the veggies are completely covered. Seal tightly and store in a cool, dark place for about four weeks, shaking occasionally. As the mixture ferments, the vinegar takes on a deep, spicy, punchy flavor, and a slight effervescence from the fermentation. Get our best tips for fermentation here.

Fire cider is also available to purchase. Skip the steps and buy a bottle here ($15).

While some may prefer to drink fire cider straight, we think it best to dilute in hot water before consuming. You may also want to add honey to make it more palatable.

The Benefits of Fire Cider

  • Just about every ingredient in fire cider is believed to boost immunity during cold and flu season, and to soothe symptoms like cough, congestion or sore throat
  • Most ingredients have anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties that can soothe inflammation or pain
  • Fire cider can boost energy or invigorate—many advocates drink it for this reason alone
  • Ginger and ACV are believed to calm indigestion and promote gut health
  • Garlic may have a positive impact on blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Horseradish has been used to treat sinus infections and urinary tract infections
  • Honey can ease coughing and improve cholesterol

The Risks of Fire Cider

Taken alone, apple cider vinegar is very acidic, which can damage tooth enamel, especially if you’re drinking a shot daily. To mitigate the risk, swish with plain water after drinking fire cider, or dilute it in water.

The super acidic drink may cause more serious damage to the esophagus or lungs. Again, diluting in water is a safer way to drink fire cider.

Looking for a less firey health drink? We’ve got 10 super-drinks for your consideration.

FAQ

How Much Fire Cider Should I Drink?

Most fire cider fans drink 1/2- to 1-tablespoon of fire cider daily—in other words, you don’t have to take much to get the benefits. You can drink it plain, use it in cooking (it’s good in salad dressings, for example), or mix with water, seltzer, juice, or tea.

Does Fire Cider Have to be Refrigerated?

Fire cider contains vinegar and honey, two ingredients often used to preserve other foods. It’s safe to keep in the pantry for several months (in a tightly sealed jar), but it will last even longer if stored in the fridge.

Is Fire Cider Safe During Pregnancy?

Many fire cider recipes use raw apple cider vinegar, which is unpasteurized and may contain harmful pathogens like E. coli. Drinking pasteurized apple cider vinegar should be fine during pregnancy, but it’s always safest to consult your doctor.

What to Do with Fire Cider Pulp

Before drinking fire cider, most folks strain out the “pulp:” the vegetables that were chopped or pureed into the vinegar, which soften considerably during fermentation, usually disintegrating a bit. The pulp still has plenty of flavor and potential benefits in its own right, so don’t ditch it! Try mixing pulp into mustard and spreading on a sandwich, mix with mayo and use for dipping fries or veggies, mix with jam for a sweet-spicy glaze for meat, or toss some pulp into a stir-fry for a spicy kick.

We've got more cold-blasting foods right here.
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Kelsey Rae Dimberg
A former in-house editor at Taste of Home, Kelsey now writes articles and novels from her home in Milwaukee. She's an avid cook, reader, flâneur, and noir fanatic. Her debut novel, Girl in the Rearview Mirror, will be published in June 2019 by William Morrow.