Fire Cider Herb-Infused Vinegars

By Paula Grainger, The English Herbalist in Santa Cruz

You may be familiar with herbal tinctures made by macerating an herb or herbs in alcohol. But did you know that vinegar has a long and storied history as a medium for medicinal plants? One of my favorite infused herbal vinegars in Fire Cider, a blend of warming spices and herbs usually made with Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) which have traditionally been used in wintertime to boost immunity and ward off colds and viruses.

Fire cider ingredients.

Ingredients

Vinegar

I recommend that you use a good quality vinegar. I like organic ACV, but you could use red or white wine vinegar. I would not recommend cheap white vinegar, as that is best kept for cleaning purposes.

Herbs & Spices

There is no one recipe for fire cider, but below are the herbs and spices I use most often and rough quantities. You can make a great fire cider with all these ingredients or choose just a – in the finest tradition of folk medicine, use what you have to hand in your kitchen, garden and grocery store.

For a large (48oz) mason jar you will need approximately

– 32oz Organic, live Apple Cider Vinegar

– Fresh root ginger (no need to peel) 3”-5” piece

– Horseradish root 1 small root

– Garlic (peeled) 5-10 cloves

– Chilis – fresh or dried 1-5, depending on their heat and your taste

– Turmeric (fresh unpeeled root or dried powdered) 1-4 pieces fresh or 1 T dried

– Black peppercorns 20

– Echinacea dried root 2T

– Elderberries dried 2T

– Cinnamom 2 sticks, broken or 2t powder

– Cloves 4

– Couple of sprigs of rosemary and/or thyme.

Method

1. Ensure your jar is clean and sterilized. You can run it through a dishwasher on its hottest setting, or wash with very hot water and then place in the oven on a low setting until dry (don’t put your plastic lid in too hot water or the oven), just wash it really well with hot soapy water.

2. Wash and dry any roots if they are not completely clean. Allow to dry fully.

3. If you are using a blender, just roughly chop the fresh ingredients so they will fit into it. If you are not using a blender, chop the fresh ingredients small.

4. Place all the fresh ingredients into your blender, pour over enough vinegar to just come to the top of the herbs and spices. Replace the lid and give it a very short whizz in the blender – you don’t want a smoothie-like mush, just enough to chop the plant material up a bit.

5. Place the dry ingredients into the jar and add the contents of the blender. Give it a stir. You can use a little more vinegar to rinse out any leftover herbs and spices and add to the jar. Give it all a stir to combine.

6. Top off with more vinegar, you want the vinegar to be above the herbs and spices by 1-2”. This is VERY important as if any plant material is not submerged the vinegar will go off. You can use a glass pickling weight to hold the material down, or even a suitably sized pebble – you boil it in water to make sure it is absolutely clean.

7. Replace the lid. If you are using a plastic lid, you can just screw it straight on, but if you only have a metal lid, place a piece of parchment over the top of the jar before screwing on the lid. The reason for this is that vinegar corrodes metal, so if you don’t keep them apart, the metal will rust and you’ll be unable to remove the lid.

8. Making sure the lid is tightly fitted, invert the jar several times to mix. Label the jar with the date and contents and place it somewhere cool and dark to infuse.

9. It will take 2-4 weeks for the vinegar to fully infuse, during this time, give the jar a few inversions to mix everything up whenever you remember. Don’t forget to lift out the weight or pebble if you have used one while you’re inverting.

10. Strain the vinegar through a sieve lined with cheesecloth or a nut milk bag, pressing the herbs and spices down to extract as much vinegar as possible. Bottle and label the fire cider vinegar and store in a cool dark place, it does not need to be refrigerated.

How to Use Your Fire Cider Vinegar

This delicious, spicy vinegar makes an excellent salad dressing and a nice addition to pasta and other dishes. You can also take it as a daily morning dose of fiery goodness by adding 1-2 teaspoons to a cup of hot water. Some people like to add honey to the strained vinegar, or stir a little in when they drink it for a little sweetness, but I like it just the way it is.

Note

– Some people warm the vinegar, I don’t find it necessary and don’t like vinegar fumes, but if you would like to do it, then gently warm the vinegar before pouring it over the herbs and spices.

– Do be sure to use a plastic lid or line a metal one with a piece of parchment paper.

– Scale the recipe up or down according to the size of your jar or how much you want to make

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