Fiery Cider: A Tonic to Love, Fear, and Cure That Cold

February  2, 2016

If the prospect of drinking something called "fiery cider" makes you nervous, you and I are going into this recipe on the same page.

Go ahead and mix in some extra honey. Photo by James Ransom

And if you think about it as a cider, drinking it will be very painful; if you think of it instead as an infused vinegar, an herbal cold remedy, or an amped up version of the apple cider vinegar-honey tonic some folks take daily as a wake-up call, digestive aid, or immunity booster, then you're managing expectations—and have a better idea of what this stuff is like.

Photo by Bobbi Lin

Fiery cider is a concoction sharp with angles: In a sip, you first get the vinegar, then a one-two punch of garlic and onion, and a longer burn from the turmeric, ginger, and jalapeño. Then slow sweetness—relief!—from the honey. To make it, layer fresh horseradish, ginger, turmeric, onion, garlic, jalapeño, lemon, and herbs in a jar, and then fill that jar with apple cider vinegar until it threatens to overflow. Then let it sit—at least two weeks and up to a month. After the first week mark, the jar's contents start to look less like distinct pieces of diced vegetables and more like a bizarre science experiment—which, in a way, it is.

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For this reason, I do not suggest keeping the jar on your desk at the office, like I did. People will be intrigued (and bemused, and perhaps made afraid) by the powerful, dark magic happening in that jar. Best to stand back and let the magic happen in a cool, dark corner of your kitchen.

Photo by Bobbi Lin

It may not surprise you that fiery cider has traditionally been a cold remedy, something to ward off whatever might be ailing you—but there are a lot of different ways to enjoy it. First, ask yourself if you're someone who likes to wade into water or dive in: If you're in the former camp, you could top it off with seltzer water (like a savory, spicy shrub) or add hot water for a tea. You could add a little whiskey to that tea for the weirdest, most wonderful toddy. Or use it as the base of a vinaigrette or marinade, or stir it into a Bloody Mary. If you're in the latter, like me, take it in the morning, just a few teaspoons at a time—two or three sips' worth in the bottom of a glass—followed by a chaser of orange juice or water (sort of like wheatgrass).

Or, be brave and take a shot of it. It will feel like a shot, but bring the color right into your cheeks.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Brenda Neufeld
    Brenda Neufeld
  • Mickele Bragg
    Mickele Bragg
  • Deb
  • diaday
  • Antoninette Nicole Alexander
    Antoninette Nicole Alexander
Writing and cooking in Brooklyn.


Brenda N. February 11, 2018
Very similar to another concoction I prepared recently to help me do battle with a nasty sinus cold: Simmer together for about 5 minutes and then strain into a jar: 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice, 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, 1/2 cup (or more) unpasteurized honey, 1/2 tsp dried hot chili pepper flakes, 1-2 tablespoons minced unpeeled fresh ginger, 1 tablespoon cinnamon. (I would have also added a tablespoon of grated fresh horseradish, but my local grocer didn't have any.) Take a couple of teaspoonfuls whenever needed.
Brenda N. February 11, 2018
Very similar to another concoction I prepared recently to help me do battle with a nasty sinus cold: Simmer together for about 5 minutes and then strain into a jar: 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice, 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, 1/2 cup (or more) unpasteurized honey, 1/2 tsp dried hot chili pepper flakes, 1-2 tablespoons minced unpeeled fresh ginger, 1 tablespoon cinnamon. (I would have also added a tablespoon of grated fresh horseradish, but my local grocer didn't have any.) Take a couple of teaspoonfuls whenever needed.
Mickele B. December 13, 2017
Do you include the zest?
Deb September 29, 2017
Love making fire cider for years. So sad a company thinks it can steal it’s “flame”. But never the less, the benefits are lovely. Here, in OG Hippie land, we use only organic ingredients, as its medicinal benefits are well know, and we like keeping it clean. I prefer Cayenne to the jalapeño, but mix it up. Also not adding honey to the original mix. We add after if desired. The “mash” is reserved and used in bangin’ rice and sauté dishes. Never wasted. No measuring of these, 5 fingers of those, etc. ...add a little herbs if you like, we skip ‘em. The anti-inflammatory aspects are wonderful for me! The down side is the complaint of staining my daughter’s water bottle, and leaving traces of odiferous wonder from my daily quaff, lol!
diaday May 15, 2017
My friend gave me a similar recipe called The Remedy. It has been passed down for quite a few generations from her relatives who lived in Appalachian Kentucky. The recipe says to make The Remedy on the new moon and then strain it on the full moon. Good stuff!
Antoninette N. February 4, 2016
I love drinking and making fire cider. I have created my version which has hibiscus and orange added. It still got all the punch but the sweet hits you first. it really good on my salads and i can't seem to keep enough in the house because my youngest son uses it as a daily tonic.
Kim February 3, 2016
Great instructions and photos!
FYI, as mentioned by others, this is widely known as Fire Cider, a name officially coined decades ago by herbalist Rosemary Gladstar.
Shire City Herbals, a team of thirsty hipsters in Massachusetts (and not actual herbalists), trademarked it and started mass-producing it.
Then they made sure to turn around and sue herbalists who have been making it for years -hence the #freefirecider campaign. I hope this movement AND remedy's popularity continues to grow. Traditional foods, and the people who make them, need to be protected from people like Shire City Botanicals. Rock on with your homemade Fire Cider!
Holly R. February 3, 2016
Love that it has jalapeno and parsley!!!! Yum!!! I originally heard about it in a herb class in the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas in the early 2000s. I've been making my own version of Fire Cider since then using fresh cayenne peppers.
Zahra February 3, 2016
I love everything about this article. The photos, the recipe, the information.... Thanks so much for sharing this amazing old school recipe.
Alice D. February 3, 2016
Funny how you call it fiery cider when we all know and love fire cider. I have been making it since the mid 80s after a friend learned to make from Rosemary Gladstar. I am appalled that a Massachusetts company has trademarked the term but hopeful that our efforts will overturn this injustice. #freefirecider a true people's remedy.
Yours in song,
Alice DiMicele
Jen February 3, 2016
great photos of a great timeless remedy. it's been used for centuries as vinegar and wine infused with herbs were a way to preserve their traditional medicines. let's keep it open and free for all to use.... there are some who would claim it for their own, which is a mistake, I think by the PTO. I know because I interned at a patent law firm right down the street from them when I was in college. Obviously they didn't do their research when it came to this particular herbal remedy, and I hope their error is soon corrected... and this "people's medicine" is once again free for all.
Sue February 3, 2016
Thank you for writing such a magical description of this recipe! I am an herbal studies student who hates to cook. I love learning about herbs, so I know which ones are right for me and my family. But then armed with my herbal knowledge, rather than make my own, I just might want to pick up a bottle of Fire Cider at the local farmers market! So honoring this tradition and removing the mistaken *trademark protection* from this product name is important for all of us! #FreeFireCider #traditionnottrademark
Hillary K. February 3, 2016
Thanks for writing this great article on this wonderful, traditional herbal remedy.
It's been around for a long time and I really enjoy making it.
Kristy C. February 3, 2016
I absolutely LOVE fire cider! I was taught to make it in an herbalism class and have passed the recipe on to friends and family all the time (though I leave out the jalapeño in favor of a little cayenne pepper).
Susan M. February 3, 2016
What a fantastic blog post; I loved it and your wonderful writing style. Way to spread the word about the awesome magic that is Fire Cider!
rose February 3, 2016
As a long, long time maker and lover of Fire Cider, as well as teacher to those who wish to make it, I love seeing your "recipe" here. To me, the variations are endless, and ~ more importantly ~ it's a reminder of who the name of this traditional tonic that's been made for years by herbalists everywhere has been usurped, trademarked and resulted in targeted legal entanglements for some small, local, independent herbalists *and* has stolen the traditional name, Fire Cider, from being used by herbalists everywhere who make it available for sale.

Traditional language should not be trademarked. It's an ugly, greedy business that would swipe commonly used words and phrases for exclusive branding and profit.
rosemary February 3, 2016
So glad to see this recipe getting out there in the world. Its one of our fabulous traditional herbal recipes that was created for everyone to make, sell and use. However, a company recently trademarked the name and other small business's are no longer able to make it. What's the big deal? Everyone can still make it if they feel like it. Its a big deal to us because it means none of our traditional herbal remedies and recipes are safe from company's coming in and swooping them up. It just happened to 4 thieves vinegar, too, a recipe that dates back to the 5th Century. Young LIving Oils just trademarked the name. What has been freely shared over the past several centuries, is in effect, coming to an end if we don't do something about this situation. So, yes, make that kick ass good Fire Cider, but also stand up for it. join us in our efforts to Free Fire Cider from Trademark Restrictions. Go to Traditions Not Trademarks at www.freefirecider. Together, we're hopeful we can make a difference and create a communally owned herbal catagory for favorite traditional herbal recipes. If we can free fire cider, we stand a chance!
From Garlic Loving Standing up for Fire Cider Herbalist, Rosemary Gladstar
Kristen February 2, 2016
Thank you so much for sharing this delicious recipe! I enjoy fire cider by the spoonful. It's a powerful but accessible herbal concoction, and a great intro to herbal remedies.

Like my fellow commenters, I'd like to chime in to boost the signal around the #FreeFireCider trademark battle. I'd encourage anyone to visit to learn more about this campaign. My own take on the issue is posted at
kim February 2, 2016
Be careful posting this article , as they may come after you as well. It's a shame a company felt the need to deny the herbal collective use of the term fire cider, and keep it from the people that actually coined the phrase, but would have never claimed ownership. Had these people possessed any type of morality, they would have never done so, just heartbreaking for the herbal community.
Nicole February 2, 2016
This traditional remedy has been trademarked. The company that did this is suing herbalists that have made it for longer than the company has been in business. Go to freefirecider.Com for more information. Get educated. Chicken soup may be next!