I put a lot of stock into traditional remedies. When all is said and done I believe in a balance between the amazing discoveries and innovations of science and technology and the herbal medicinal remedies that are the result of hundreds and thousands of years of human evolution and experimentation. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing, black or white, it can be a blend- the old AND the new, all working together to keep us healthy and strong.
This school year I’ve maintained a steady cough/cold since approximately September 1st. It’s fluctuated from really bad to barely noticeable to full blown flu, and I expect it’ll stay with me until about June. It’s one of the consequences of me being a preschool teacher- I get sick and stay sick for most of the year. Even after more than a decade working with kids I still catch everything, so do my best to keep my body strong so that I am able to fend off as much as possible.
In the past this has meant combining plenty of fermented foods and probiotics (sauerkraut and water kefir are two of my standards) with a diet of organic whole foods, a solid amount of garlic, and immune boosters such as elderberry. This year, after a particularly horrible round of the flu made it through our classroom (and town and country and, it seems, world), I decided it was time to step up my game a bit and brew a little fire cider.
Fire cider is a traditional recipe with deep roots in folk medicine. Like any dish with a long history there are countless recipes, ingredients, and techniques available, as many as there are Appalachian grandmothers. The touted benefits are also incredible- it is antibacterial, decongestive, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, anti fungal, it promotes circulation and helps with nausea and gut health. It’s a fermented miracle tonic that tastes damn good on its own and even better splashed on top of a bloody mary.
A few years ago I was complaining to my Grammy about my chronic ear infections. Her response? “I’m not into all that hippie dippy shit but put some olive oil in it” (ever the good Sicilian). I am into all that hippie dippy shit and so I threw some olive oil right in my ear. Worked like a charm (as does vinegar). My point is, even if you’re not the type of person that has a cupboard full of tinctures, it certainly can’t hurt to add a few herbal remedies to your routine. In this age of rapidly mutating super viruses maybe what we all need is the power of fermented superfoods.
The beautiful thing about Fire Cider is that you can adapt the recipe to what you have on hand, or what herbs and ingredients you’d like to take advantage of. Use this recipe as a starting off point and experiment!
1 head of garlic, peeled
3″ fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
1 lemon, peeled and quartered
1 grapefruit, peeled and quartered
1/4 cup grated horseradish (fresh if you can find it)
1/4 cup local honey with honeycomb
1 tbsp cayenne pepper
Raw apple cider vinegar
Combine all of your ingredients in a large jar or glass bottle. Top with apple cider vinegar and shake well. Ferment in a dark place, shaking once per day, for at least 4 weeks and up to 6 months. Strain and add raw honey to taste. Drink straight or mix into drinks or food.