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Fire Cider: Pungent Horseradish

Horseradish Fire Cider

Making Medicine for Herbalists Without Borders

A couple weeks ago, Belle joined the Bristol group of Herbalists without Borders at Kebele Centre to make more than 20 litres of hot, pungent, punchy fire cider.

Fire Cider is a traditional remedy that relieves sinus congestion, ward off colds and flus, aid digestion, and increase circulation.

Medicine-making is such an ancient practice and coming together to as a group to do it always makes me feel connected to the generations that came before us who also harvested, processed and stored their medicines each season. To be working with such an old recipe only added to that feeling.

To make an extra punchy immune boosting vinegar, we combined recipes for the traditional 4 Thieves Vinegar and Fire Cider.

Four Thieves vinegar is a recipe packed with aromatic, anti-microbial, insect repelling herbs like garlic, rosemary, sage, lavendar, wormwood. It is said that rubbing this vinegar on their skin protected grave-robbers in the middle-ages from coming down with the plague.

Fire Cider is a brew of pungent anti-biotic, anti-microbial, circulatory, digestive herbs like horseradish, garlic, onion, turmeric and ginger. The fiery vinegar is very easy to make and a great addition to your winter medicine chest. You can take a tablespoon each day as an immune boost throughout winter and up that dose to take it every 3 hours as soon as you feel colds or flu coming on.

You can imagine how useful this vinegar could be to refugees whose immune systems are greatly compromised by stress, cold and lack of nutrition.

Fire Cider is currently contested territory in the USA where a company has successfully trademarked the name despite it having been used by herbalists all over the country for decades. The Seed SistAs talk a lot about the politics of herbal medicine and the legal challenge to “Free Fire Cider” of its trademark is a case that points to the bigger picture of bio-piracy that threatens our common right to cultivate and make medicine from plants.

It is so important that these recipes are used and passed on as common knowledge so that they remain in the public domain. Try this recipe and share it with your friends. When you’re done, email us with some good suggestions for a name for this pokey brew… we’re looking for inspiration!

Bristol Fire Cider Recipe

  • Chop 2 parts horseradish root, onions, rosemary, thyme, sage, bay
  • And 1 part chilli, ginger and turmeric.
  • Wash two organic lemons well and slice them with sking on.
  • Layer the chopped ingredients in a clean jar and add approximately 3 cloves of chopped garlic per liter of vinegar.
  • Cover the ingredients with apple cider vinegar and seal the jar.  
  • Make sure your jar lid is not made of metal as it will react to the vinegar and ruin the mix.

Herbalists Without Borders UK was established by herbalists across the UK and Ireland who wanted to respond to the refugee crisis.  HWB UK is a local chapter of the US organization. It is a truly grassroots movement that is evolving and growing.  This means that your ideas and input are welcome and needed.   If you would like to set up a local medicine-making workshop, group, there are recipes available here.   

Here in Bristol, the fire cider will be distributed to patients via the Bristol Migrant Support Clinic founded by Becs Griffiths and Annwen Jones of Rhizome Community Herbal Clinic.

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