When people think of “food as medicine” they often think of nutrition — meal planning, preparation, and intake of farmed foods. This makes sense given the magnitude of the health/wellness and agricultural industries. While this approach is instrumental in maintaining ones health there is another approach that centers around traditional healing — or folk medicine as some would call it. Embracing food as medicine involves identifying wild foods for their medicinal qualities and utilizing them in various forms to cure what ails us.
These ancestral foods provided unique remedies needed to heal communities before modern medicine was the norm. Our kin would observe the behavior of animals seeking out various types of flora to cure themselves from disease or wounds, and learn which plant was useful for a particular affliction. Modernity has not eradicated our need for these natural medicines; it has only caused our society to lose touch with the ancient knowledge and wisdom needed to recognize and administer them.
Fire Cider for the Common Cold
This past week, the weather has been abnormally beautiful for early spring here in Asheville, NC…and warm, oh-so-warm. But not yesterday. Yesterday Mother Nature decided to provide us with chilly, rainy weather and a side of “head cold” just for me.
I did my best to avoid it — vitamin C, hand washing, a healthy diet — but it arrived at my door despite my best efforts. Not being a fan of over-the-counter medications, my first instinct was to gravitate toward natural remedies that can be found in the kitchen.
Fire Cider is a captivating example of food as medicine. Being a folk remedy, it is a concoction of several important medicinal foods, including garlic, ginger, turmeric and herbs. True to its name, it will kick start your immune system into a fighting frenzy. So, today I decided to whip up a batch as a preventative as I make the final push through cold and flu season.
Raw vs. pasteurized apple cider vinegar should be used as the base in order to maintain the living qualities and medicinal properties of the concoction. Using raw will help promote a healthy digestive track and prevent seasonal infections. Vinegar is also valuable as a base because it extracts the medicinal qualities of the plants that will be added to the fire cider.
After making my fire cider, I coincidentally came across this interesting little anecdote about the power of apple cider vinegar in an old book on Vermont folk medicine.
Another key ingredient is honey. Like apple cider vinegar, use raw honey in order to preserve the medicinal qualities. I would also recommend selecting something from your local apiary. Honey that is sourced locally will give you an extra boost when it comes to protection from local environmental maladies.
There are several variations of additional ingredients you can add to your own personal fire cider. Below is my recipe. You can also let it sit for as little as one week or upwards of six+ weeks, it is your choice.
Fire Cider Recipe
- Apple Cider Vinegar (raw – i.e. Braggs, unfiltered)
- 1/2 cup local raw honey
- 1/2 cup grated horseradish
- 1/2 cup diced onion
- 1/4 cup peeled & diced ginger
- 1/4 cup peeled & diced turmeric
- 1/4 cup peeled & diced garlic
- 3 sprigs rosemary
- 4 sprigs thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon cardamom seed pods, crushed
Other additions to experiment with: mint, peppercorns, parsley, habañero chile, lemons, oranges, rose hips, and more.
- Chop or grate the necessary ingredients.
- Combine all “dry” ingredients into a quart mason jar.
- Pour apple cider vinegar over the combined ingredients, fill to close to the top of the jar.
- Add the honey.
- Shake well (avoiding any air bubbles).
- Place a piece of wax paper between the jar and lid to prevent corrosion from the vinegar on metal.
- Let the jar sit from 1-6 weeks.
- Strain vinegar mixture into a new jar.
- Refrigerate or not. It keeps for about 12 months.
Reposted from my food writings on the Ashevillage blog