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HEAL:   Recipe for Dragon Breath…Or How to Make Fire Cider

HEAL: Recipe for Dragon Breath…Or How to Make Fire Cider

Did you wake up with the sniffles? Are you feeling like some folks shared their virus with you?  Morning congestion?  Fire cider to the rescue!  February 2nd is World Fire Cider Day so here's my take on it.

The recipe and the name Fire Cider was created by renown herbalist Rosemary Gladstar. The recipe is easy to adapt and there are as many variations as there are fire cider makers. I provide the basic recipe and a list of optional ingredients to add to truly make it one of a kind.

Warning: This fiery herbal vinegar may cause facial contortions, puckered lips and a hurt-so-good warming sensation internally. If you put enough peppers in it, you could possibly exhale the fire of dragon breath.


This spicy, sweet and potentially fiery brew is a traditional remedy that is immune-boosting, congestion-clearing and body-warming.  I recommend keeping a quart on hand throughout the year doing a daily shot as a tonic for overall wellness and dosing medicinally for incoming viral attacks.

Fire Cider is easy to make but needs four weeks steeping time so plan ahead.  You can tweak the recipe to make it your own but there are three necessary pungent ingredients: horseradish, onion and garlic.


(Makes 1 quart)

Chop the following into small pieces.  Wash thoroughly but no need to peel.

  • 1 long fresh horseradish root (found in the produce section of your grocery store)

  • 1-2 onions

  • 4-8 garlic cloves

Multiple hands of freshly harvested ginger grown in an unheated greenhouse. Absent is the tough brown skin that develops during the curing process.

Multiple hands of freshly harvested ginger grown in an unheated greenhouse. Absent is the tough brown skin that develops during the curing process.

  • 1 small “hand” of fresh ginger (a hand is what is usually sold in the store – small chunk with a couple of “fingers”)

  • 1-3 fresh jalapeno peppers (dried cayenne peppers can be used instead)

  • Several fingers of fresh turmeric (or 1-2 tbsps. of dried)

Mince and add:  

  • Thyme & Rosemary - 1-3 tsp dried or handful of fresh of each herb

Delicious Additions

Fruits and flowers of your choice can also be added. My current favorite is pomegranate and hibiscus flowers (recipe found HERE) but I like to play around with the recipe each time I make it.  Experiment with any of these additions:

  • Diced oranges (blood oranges add a delightful rose color)

  • Thinly sliced lemons or limes

  • Pomegranate arils (seeds)

  • Dried or fresh rosehips

  • Cherries, Blueberries, Elderberries

  • Calendula flowers (fresh or dried)

  • Hibiscus flowers (fresh or dried)

1)   Place all ingredients in a half-gallon canning glass jar.  Add organic unpasteurized apple cider vinegar (its beneficial bacterial “mother” is floating about) to completely cover (around 32 ounces).  If you have room, you can add raw honey to top it off.

2)   Stir to eliminate any air pockets.  Cover with a piece of waxed paper and then the canning lid and ring (or a plastic lid). Vinegar and metal lids don't play well together, creating a reaction that results in black goo.  Label with the date and ingredients (in case you love the version and want to repeat it) and store in pantry or cupboard. Every now and then shake it up a bit. 

3)   Four weeks later or over a moon's journey, strain, squeezing the mash to get every last bit of medicine out of it.  Taste and add more honey until your taste buds tell you it is just right. Once settled, there will be sediment on the bottom - that's a good thing as Martha would say. Shake a bit before using.

Steep fire cider for at least 4 weeks.

Steep fire cider for at least 4 weeks.

How to Use Fire Cider

The ingredients offer a variety of healing and supportive properties: anti-biotic, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, immune and circulatory stimulation and is especially useful for upper respiratory congestion.

As a supportive tonic: take 1-2 tbsp daily. Mix with sparkling water for an intriguing drink.

Medicinally: if you are feeling the beginning symptoms of a virus, take 1-2 tsps. each hour to help with congestion and immune support

In the kitchen: splash a bit on cooked greens, a bowl of soup or a salad. 

As a gift:  What a unique gift for the adventurous and the cooks in your life! But I should warn you - not everyone will appreciate this unique blend.  On our second date, I offered a shot of Fire Cider to my now partner and he unequivocally made it clear that he would not be interested in additional samples.


Fire cider can be stored in a glass container with a plastic lid (vinegar interacts with metal and let's just say it gets ugly...). If you choose to add juicy fruits like pomegranate or berries, store the strained cider in your fridge since there will be tiny fruit pulp thingies that remain.

Fire cider is a classic example of food as medicine and it is a powerful agent for combating crud-type illnesses. Admittedly, not everyone will like it. I am the sole drinker in my household though I do sneak it in dressings and splashes on soup and greens.  What they don't know can't hurt them...

AUTHOR: Sue Kusch

Sue Kusch, a former community college instructor and academic advisor, incorporates her experiential wisdom, expertise and science-based research garnered from her three decades of growing vegetables, fruit and herbs into her educational writing about plants and how people use them. In addition to her BA in Social Sciences and Masters in Education, she completed the Master Gardener training in 2011 and two permaculture courses in 2001 and 2014. She has studied medicinal and nutritional uses of herbs including studies at and East West School of Planetary Herbology since 1997. An avid reader, lover of historical and folkloric information, and a promising storyteller, Sue writes about the intersection of plants and people at


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