Last weekend I was lucky enough to take a herbal winter immunity class with Brittany Nickerson of Thymeherbal.com. It was amazing! Brittany has an extensive background in herbal healing and filled the class with useful information. She also brought a spirit of adventure and authenticity, which set the tone for the day. I left the class with tons of information and a renewed excitement about using herbs for preventative health.
One of the medicines (or potions!) that we made during the class was Fire Cider. Fire Cider combines the immune boosting properties of onion, garlic, ginger, cayenne, horseradish, and cider into a potent winter tonic. It can be taken as part of general winter wellness or in larger doses (3 teaspoons repeated as needed) at the first signs of a cold or flu. It is also an effective digestive aid and can be used to clear the sinuses.
These ingredients combine many of the topics we discussed throughout the class — warming herbs, diaphoretic herbs (promote elimination of toxins through sweat), antibacterial and antiviral herbs and immune-boosting herbs. Onions are diaphoretics and support the body in replenishing the blood supply. Garlic is an immune stimulant, diaphoretic, warming herb, antibacterial and antiviral. Ginger is a warming herb, antibacterial, and digestive aid. Cayenne and horseradish are both strong warming herbs. These ingredients combine to make a powerful tonic that is also delicious!
We filled two mason jars with the chopped ingredients and then covered them with unfiltered cider vinegar. Vinegar is used as a base for tinctures when you’re trying to extract the vitamins and minerals from the ingredients. The jars should steep for at least 4 weeks before being strained and used medicinally.
If you want to be exact, here is Brittany’s recipe –
1/4 cup chopped fresh horseradish root
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/8 cup chopped garlic
1/4 cup chopped fresh ginger
cayenne to taste (about 1/2 teaspoon)
Brittany also brought a jar she had started before our class so we could see the change in color as the tincture steeps and learn how to strain and prepare the tincture. It’s really quite simple — strain the liquid and solid ingredients through a piece of organic muslin into a bowl. It’s important to squeeze out the solid ingredients well because lots of good juices can get stuck in them.
You’ll end up with this beautiful milky cider. But don’t let the color fool you — it is very spicy! Brittany often adds some raw honey to sweeten the tincture (honey is antibacterial). I thought it tasted good with the honey and without it.
My jar of Fire Cider is marinating as I write this and I can see the color changing slowly day by day. Try making a batch. It’s incredibly easy and a good home medicine staple to have on hand in your fridge.
I have two more classes with Brittany coming up — herbal stress management and cooking with herbs. I’m sure they will be equally enjoyable and informative. For those of you in the Boston area, we have more room in the classes if you’re interested in joining. Please send me a message if you’d like the details.