Feel the Burn! (Fire Cider and Thieves’ Vinegar recipes)

Apple cider vinegar is one of those universally magical substances that’s supposed to cure practically anything, depending on what and where you read.  I personally have never had much affinity for it–I use the white stuff for cleaning, and the balsamic stuff for food, but cider vinegar has never been one of my staples. 

So it was intriguing when, in this season of Awful Flu-ness, I again came across the Legend of the Four Thieves.  It goes something like this: during the Black Plague, these four brothers made their living going into the houses of dead plague victims and relieving them of the belongings they now, being dead, would no longer need. And somehow they never got the plague themselves.  When they were finally captured, the authorities gave them their freedom in exchange for the secret to how they had managed to stay alive all that time.

The secret, apparently, was this herbal vinegar–lots of well-known antibacterial and antiviral herbs steeped in cider vinegar (or in their case, probably whatever fruit vinegar they had access to), drained, and a teaspoon or so taken every few hours.  There are lots of recipes floating around the internet, but the basic bare bones seem to be something like this:

Thieves Vinegar

Fill a quart jar lightly with  more or less equal parts of the following freh or dried herbs: lavendar, sage, rosemary, and thyme.  Some recipes add garlic, others say lemon balm or mint, but the ones purporting to be “original” only have those first basic four. (I’m assuming one would chop the herbs.) Pour cider vinegar over it all and let it steep in a fairly cool out-of-the-sun place for about six weeks, shaking every day or so.  Strain out the solids, retain the liquid, and take by the teaspoonful, or put over salad, or what-have-you.

So that’s Thieves Vinegar.  I haven’t tried making that one yet–maybe a mistake in this particular year, as my own flu is backing off and my husband and daughter are starting to sniffle…

On the other hand, the one I have made a few times and thoroughly enjoyed is FIRE CIDER!

This is another really old brew using apple cider vinegar, but to me it seems to have a little more oomph.  Like Thieves Vinegar, it’s something to take a spoonful or so of several times a day during cold and flu seasons, just to build up the immunity a little more.  And I may be crazy, but I find it absolutely delicious.

FIRE CIDER RECIPESupposed to cure practically everything. (Including, perhaps, the annoying flame of life, but whatever…)

  • 1 quart apple cider vinegar 
  • 1/4 cup grated fresh horseradish (I’ve used the stuff from a jar when I couldn’t find the fresh stuff) 
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 ginger root, chopped
  • 1 head garlic  peeled & chopped
  • cayenne pepper (not sure how much of this to use!–maybe half a teaspoonful or so? Depends on your tolerance.)
  • 1 cup honey, to taste

Place herbs in a glass jar. Pour in enough vinegar to cover herbs by 1 to 2 inches. Seal jar tightly and let sit for 4-6 weeks.

Strain out and discard herbs and sweeten the infused cider vinegar with honey to taste. (you might need to warm the mixture gently in a saucepan to dissolve the honey…or not, it’ll eventually dissolve in the jar.)

I made this last winter and took a little slug in some apple or other juice often, as well as using it on salads and such, a few times a day.  It’s very strongly flavored, but it’s also in its own way sort of fabulous.


Posted on October 29, 2009, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Omigosh! The very thought turns my stomach! hehehehe You know that “honey, to taste”? I think we’d have to multiply it by 10!

  2. greenmomintheburbs

    LOL! I know, isn’t it scary-sounding? But in real life it’s actually sort of amazing…the horseradish and ginger give it sort of an Asian wasabi-ginger effect, and oddly all the various stand-back-sister ingredients blend together into something completely different from any of them, and it’s really quite tasty, especially combined with the honey sweetness that makes it sort of sweet-and-sour…

    And lemme tell you–it clears out the sinuses!

  3. I am in the middle of making this right now, and I took a sneak peek on it and it smells sooooo good 🙂 I love horseradish 😉 I still have two weeks to let it sit, but couldn’t resist a small test 🙂

    • Oh, I swear, I was dipping into it for weeks before it was “ready.” It’s a lot better after you strain the solids out of it! Love this stuff…I so need to make more.

  4. Good recipe, and good stuff. I can personally say that I take Shire City Herbsals ( http://www.firecider.com ) whenever I feel a cold coming on and I haven’t been under the weather since. I’m with you- I think it tastes great. All the flavors blend together into something unique and tasty! Thanks for the post!

  5. I’ve been taking fire cider at the first sign of either a cold or the flu for at least four years now.Works all the time. I use four or five jalepenos instead of cayenne and also one large white onion. There wasn’t any honey in the recipe given to me,but it makes sense.

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