FIRE CIDER & SPRUCE BUD HONEY
We love making Fire Cider. I have been making it since 1991 when Rosemary Gladstar shared her recipe with us, and have made it ever winter since. We like to think the apple cider vinegar that we use makes it very special -- we get it from a local cider mill, and it has a very special taste that just yells “Fall, beautiful fall, in all its glory, now get ready for winter.” We also use our own homegrown raw honey that we have infused with spruce buds, which makes a rather strong-tasting honey plus has the added benefit of extra vitamin C. Many Native traditions call for eating the spring spruce buds to ward off thirst and hunger. They have also been used to combat scurvy, colds, coughs and fatigue.
Spruce buds are one of the more unusual, least used, and tastiest wild edibles. We gather ours around the end of May, depending on the weather. Young tips are harvested when they are lime green and tender. Pinch off the new growth here and there – making sure not to gather too much in one place. Remember that you are pruning. My husband always has to remind me not to take too many from one area of the tree, the gleam in my eye gives me away. I get focused on the beautiful young green tips and can forget to see the whole tree.
When we are finished harvesting, we put about a pound of the fresh buds in a gallon of honey, and allow this to sit in our greenhouse for at least 2 weeks. Afterward we strain off the buds and the honey is ready to be used, infused with all the energy of the forest, sun, and moon.
I have been sharing how to make fire cider since Rosemary first shared it with me in 1991. I love to see how others have taken the basic recipe and made it their own. I have friends that add cinnamon, hot peppers, turmeric, hyssop, and just about anything you can think of, as long as it fits your taste buds.
My sister has a Fox Hunt Club -- they are crazy, out 3 days a week, in the winter, playing with coyotes and hounds and horses, they can be out for four to eight hours at a time. They get cold and have been known to take a flask of whiskey to warm the body, but my sister has fallen in love with fire cider and has been known to take some in her flask.
Some of the traditional benefits of Fire Cider's ingredients include:
Horseradish ~ The antibacterial properties of Horseradish have been used to fight bacteria. Horseradish strongly stimulates the digestion, increasing gastric secretions and appetite. It's also a good diuretic that promotes perspiration, making it useful in fevers, colds, and flu. Horseradish is also an expectorant and mildly antibiotic, and can be of use in both respiratory and urinary tract infections.
Ginger ~ is valued for its ability to warm the stomach, to ease vomiting & nausea and to fight off colds, chills and coughs. Ginger is useful for all types of congestion in the body.
Garlic ~ supports the immune function and opens the pores of the skin to lower a fever. This herb's antibacterial and antimicrobial properties make it useful in treating bladder and kidney infections, yeast infections, strep throats and ear infections.
Cayenne ~ is useful for increasing circulation and to get mucous flowing. This herb is an anti-inflammatory and anti-irritant. It is used as a digestive aid to stimulates gastric juices. Many people report relief from migraines with this herb as well.
How to Make Fire Cider:
¼ cup horseradish, freshly grated
⅛ cup garlic, chopped
½ cup onion, chopped
¼ cup ginger, freshly grated
Cayenne to taste
Honey to taste
Apple cider vinegar, enough to cover all ingredients by and inch or two.
Grate and chop ingredients. Place in glass jars and just cover all ingredients with vinegar. Let sit 4 weeks and strain. Sweeten to taste with honey. Take 1 teaspoon every half hour or as often as needed.
How to Use Your Fire Cider:
~ Rub into sore muscles and aching joints.
~ Soak a clean cloth in fire cider to place on a congested chest.
~ Drink it straight or diluted in a bit of water or tomato juice. Start out with a tsp or so to test your tolerance level.
~ Mix with a bit of honey to ease a cough.
Individual tolerance to the heat will vary so you and your family will want to experiment with quantity. We drink a small shot glass at a time. Others will want only a few drops mixed with honey, or only topically.
Have fun finding all the different ways to enjoy fire cider.