Fire Cider for the Cold and Flu Season

Fire Cider for the Cold and Flu Season

Fire Cider Vinegar November 2021

Fire Cider Vinegar November 2021

It’s cold and flu season and lots of people swear by fire cider vinegar for getting themselves and their families and friends through the sniffly time.

You can buy fire cider vinegar at the farmers market or some stores, but if you are so inclined, you can make your won and customize it your taste or what you have available (though I think with its heat flavor isn’t as much of a consideration). Making your own is also much cheaper if costs are a consideration. and ingredients can be purchased with SNAP benefits!

Fire cider (often with “vinegar” left off the name) is an old way of infusing cold-and-flu-bug-busting herbs and making them palatable and easy to take. It was named over Fire Cider Vinegar over 30 years ago by Rosemary Gladstar, who began sharing her version of the recipe; it now has almost as many variation as people who make it.

You can take fire cider vinegar to help your immune system fight off what’s around, at the start of cold or flu symptoms (and sometimes it seems to stop them, though no guarantees), or it seems to lessen the severity of the cold or flu, though again no promises.

 How to take Fire Cider Vinegar (FCV): Most people don’t take it straight, but diluted in some way. Take a tablespoon or two (or a glug or two from the bottle is it in) and put it in a glass of water, juice, or a cup of tea–you decide how much it needs to be diluted. You can take it every couple of hours, or, when you are feeling better, a 2 or 3 times a day.

You can also use FCV in a mixed drink, or use it in salad dressing–for some or all of the vinegar portion.

Below are two recipes, one from my friend Charles Garcia (, a wonderful Hispanic herbalist, and one from me with interesting choices and no particular measurements.

Fire Cider Recipe from Charles Garcia

Ingredients (makes about 2 quarts):
2 glass quart jars
1 heaping teaspoon of black pepper for each jar
1 lemon in 4 slices (2 for each jar)
3 small slices of apple
1/2 diced red onions
16 garlic cloves (8 for each jar)
Approximately 2 ounces sliced fresh ginger
Approximately 2 1/4 ounces horse radish in 1 inch chunks
1 Anaheim or Serrano pepper sliced into 1/4 inch slices,
separate them into equal amounts for each jar
20 Allspice seeds split evenly for each jar
2 heaping Tablespoons of honey for each jar

Pack everything tightly in each jar. Fill with apple cider vinegar. Allow bubbles to escape and add more vinegar.

Seal and shake. Keep in fridge. Shake every day. After three weeks remove all solid material and keep the liquid in the jars and use as needed.

Fire Cider Vinegar ingredients, waiting for vinegar

Fire Cider Vinegar ingredients, waiting for vinegar

A Recipe for Fire Cider Vinegar by Iris Weaver

Take some garlic, onions, hot peppers, horseradish or garlic mustard root, any herbs that are anti-microbial or anti-inflammatory, etc., that are in your garden or cupboard, whatever else appeals to you. Use whatever amounts you like or have on hand. Warning: go easy with the horse radish; from experience too much makes the fire cider tooo firey!

Chop the herbs, put in a jar, top with ACV (organic and local if possible) and let sit at least 6 weeks. When you strain it out, add local raw honey if you like (some people add honey in with the vinegar while it is steeping). To me this is easy–no fussy measuring or worrying about having just the “right” herbs! Oh, and if you have someone who can’t do alliums, just eliminate the garlic and onions.

The usual herbs that seem to be the base of any fire cider recipe are garlic, horseradish, ginger, and hot peppers. But, again, use what you’ve got.

Dose: 1 to 3 teaspoons in water, juice, tea, several times a day. This is also great added to soups, stir-fries, and salad dressings (but be careful how much you use–hot, hot, hot!).

Suggested herbs and other ingredients (fresh or dried; organic if possible):

  • Hot peppers/chilis
  • Ginger
  • Horseradish, or wasabi radish, or garlic mustard roots
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Astragalus root
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Lemon Balm
  • Bee Balm
  • Peppermint/Spearmint
  • Oregano
  • Sage
  • Lemons
  • Oranges
  • Turmeric
  • Organic, raw Apple Cider Vinegar

Decide whether you want to make a quart, a half-gallon, or a gallon, and have appropriately sized jars, or use what you have!

Use organic citrus and ginger, and herbs if you buy them. Chop up your fresh herbs, onions, garlic, horse radish, etc. and slice your citrus if using (don’t worry about peeling it).

Fill your jar between 1/4 to 3/4 full with chopped ingredients, and then fill with apple cider vinegar to bottom of where lid sits. You can also add a bit of honey, you decide how much, in place of the vinegar and let it all infuse together. Put on lid and let infuse.

Make note of what herbs and ingredients you used and the date, Helpful for labeling and if anyone wants to know what’s in there.

Let it sit for 6 weeks or longer and then strain out the solids and bottle and use. Enjoy!

About Seed Sharing

seed-saving envelopes

Envelopes that get recycled for seed-saving, and nasturtium seeds.

Saving seeds for planting the next season, and sharing them with others, is an ancient tradition that probably stretches back to before the advent of agriculture. It is a custom still practiced by many gardeners and small farmers, but increasingly threatened by big business practices of big chemical companies such as Monsanto.

But at the really local level it can still be a vibrant, viable alternative to buying seeds every year, and for finding unusual or rare plants/seeds, especially for heirloom plants.
What is an heirloom plant? A quick trip to Wikipedia gives us this:
An heirloom plantheirloom varietyheritage fruit (Australia and New Zealand), or (especially in Ireland and the UK) heirloom vegetable is an old cultivar that is maintained by gardeners and farmers, particularly in isolated or ethnic minority communities in western countries.These may have been commonly grown during earlier periods in human history, but are not used in modern large-scale agriculture.
   In some parts of the world, notably the European Union, it is illegal to sell seeds of cultivars that are not listed as approved for sale.The Henry Doubleday Research Association, now known as Garden Organic, responded to this legislation by setting up the Heritage Seed Library to preserve seeds of as many of the older cultivars as possible. However, seed banks alone have not been able to provide sufficient insurance against catastrophic loss. In some jurisdictions, laws have been proposed that would make seed saving itself illegal.
Many heirloom vegetables have kept their traits through open pollination, while fruit varieties such as apples have been propagated over the centuries through grafts and cuttings. wiki link


However, trading seeds among friends is one thing; setting up a more formal, publicly available structure is a little more fraught and can have some unpleasant legal obstacles. In most states in this country there are seed libraries, some of them located in public libraries, that have become the community space where people can share seeds, both donating and receiving seeds from local gardeners.

piles of 3 different seeds

Seeds: nasturtium, red runner bean, calendula

An article in Natural Awakenings magazine in May 2017 says the “the U.S. Department of Agriculture Federal Seed Act, in place for 80 years, mandates that any activity involving non-commercial distribution of seeds must be labeled, permitted and tested according to industrial regulations that would be both costly and burdensome to the hundreds of local seed libraries operating in 46 states.”

Fortunately, four states–California, Nebraska, Illinois, and Minnesota–have passed legislation “protecting non-commercial seed activity from regulatory requirements.” This is wonderful because as people continue to share seeds in many different venues, including seed libraries, they can save heirloom and open-pollinated varieties, increase local food production in backyards and community gardens, and help communities to have fresh, toxin-free food that is nutrient-dense and healthy.

The Sustainable Economies Law Center is working to get legislation passed in all 50 states that would protect our right to share seeds freely and easily.

 Here is a link to one of the biggest seed saving organizations, that has been around since 1975. It is well worth checking out.

Have you done any seed-sharing, with friends or with a seed library? Let me know your experiences!

What is Sustainable Herbalism?

Lady's mantle and more

Herbs growing in a garden.

Sustainability is becoming more and more important as our economy continues to struggle and as people realize how fragile our planet is. As an herbalist and plant lover (and child of the 60s) I have always thought in terms of sustainability for my life and my work, and so, of course, it is something that is inextricably tied in with my practice of herbalism and of foraging and wild-crafting. I thought it would be useful to write something about sustainable herbalism and what it is, at least from my point of view.

In wanting to write about this topic I spent time on the Web looking to see what is out there on the subject, specifically “sustainable herbalism”. Along with various businesses that include sustainability as part of their practices or include the word “sustainable” for some of their products, there were some interesting blog posts and articles. They helped to expand what I had been thinking about sustainability to a broader level, beyond the more local level I usually think of.

Definition of Sustainability

Wikipedia begins the entry on sustainability with this: “In ecologysustainability is the capacity to endure; it is how biological systems remain diverse and productive indefinitely.” ( And the online Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines sustainability as “able to be used without being completely used up or destroyed; involving methods that do not completely use up or destroy natural resources; able to last or continue for a long time.”

This is how i think of sustainable herbalism: using locally growing and grown plants whenever possible for healthcare and other needs in ways that are harmonious with the environment, with the needs of a community, with one’s budget. It is wild-crafting responsibly and using wild plants when feasible. It is about growing what I can grow as much as possible, and when I can’t, to buy from people who grow organically and responsibly and/or ethically wildcraft, locally when possible, as much as I can. It is working with plants in ways that make sure the plants and the medicine will still be there next year, in five years, in 10 years, for the next generation, the next seven generations to come, and beyond.

Sustainably Global

As I was looking at articles and blogs I realized also that it is about approaching the growing and using of plants and their medicines with responsibility and care around the world as well.

I realized that sustainable herbalism is also more global and universal, encompassing the way plants are grown, harvested, processed, and transported around the world. That this happens in ways that maintain the integrity of the plants and where they are grown, the environment, and that don’t use excessive amounts of resources for growing, handling, and transporting, especially non-renewable resources such as petroleum or plastics.


One of the most important parts of what I think of as sustainable herbalism is affordability. It is crucial that if herbal medicine is going to be able to be used and incorporated into one’s healthcare long-term that it be affordable and available on an on-going basis. It doesn’t make sense to use rare, exotic herbs that are very expensive to grow or find, ship, and buy (unless they are what you really need and you can’t find a substitute). That is not a sustainable practice for a person or family of ordinary financial means. Being able to use a medicine as long as needed without worrying about the cost is hugely important and necessarily a part of sustainability.


And so to one other aspect of sustainability, though not an absolute requirement. I think it is much more sustainable to be able to make you own medicines—tinctures, vinegars, infused oils, salves, capsules, etc.—if you have the knowledge, skill, and inclination to do so. It can make working with an herb affordable where buying the ready-made products might be vastly more expensive. Even being able to make a tea is a simple form of medicine-making that just about anyone can do.


I also found some resources. One of the resources I found was the Sustainable Herbs Project, started by Ann Armbrecht, one of the film-makers for Numen: The Healing Power of Plants. Armbrecht is making a documentary about the growers and producers of herbs around the world, and the project is about “following medicinal plants through the supply chain of the botanical industry.” It is about knowing who is growing or collecting the herbs, how they are processed and distributed, so that those who are using the herbs know how they been treated from harvest to medicine–making. They can see whether the plants were grown without chemicals, irradiated, stored correctly or not, and more. It is a way to know and support the small herb producers around the world, as well as make sure that the herbs you buy are good quality for good medicine. sustainable herbs project.

Here is a good blog post by herbalist Juliet Blankespoor on wild-crafting which lays out some good guidelines for foraging and wild-crafting herbs to use sustainably.

What are your thoughts and opinions on sustainability and sustainable herbalism? What do you do to work with herbs sustainably? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.