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

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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.
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.

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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.

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).

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

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Fiery Cider

D0abaf68 a3aa 4105 a15a 732c3fd0d9ee  186158 Caroline Lange
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Makes about 1 1/2 cups of cider
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh horseradish
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh turmeric (or 1 tablespoon dried)
  • 1 yellow onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 bulb garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 2 jalapeños or 1 habanero, seeded and diced
  • 1 lemon, zested, thinly sliced, and quartered
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh (or dried) rosemary
  • 2 to 3 cups unfiltered apple cider vinegar with "the mother" (like Bragg's)—or as much as you can fit in the jar
  • 1/4 cup raw honey, or more to taste

Tags: fire cider, apple cider vinegar, turmeric, ginger, cold remedy, ass-kickin'