Master Tonic (Fire Cider)


Because of the diverse array of its anti-inflammatory, vitamin-rich components, which are also normally easily accessible in conventional or specialty grocers and food markets, fire cider has only seen its popularity grow in both commercial production and DIY recipes in recent years. Another convenient benefit: It’s not hard at all to make once you source your ingredients.

Fire cider is essentially raw, organic apple cider vinegar – or other natural vinegar developed using a mother of vinegar – infused with healthy, cleansing fruits, vegetables, and herbs like lemon, garlic, ginger, and more. (This also means regular apple or white vinegar is not intended or recommended.) Because of this infusion, it also just tastes really good and is invigorating (if horseradish, citrus plus capsaicin type burn is your thing).

It is touted for its immunity-supporting properties, especially at the onset of and during experience with common illnesses like the cold and flu. Anecdotally, many people express relief of some symptoms and an accelerated recovery time.

I don’t drink fire cider every day, although some do for general immunity support. Taking shots of infused vinegar on a daily basis is not necessarily recommended due to its stress on the esophagus (and potentially the stomach) over time, though individual tolerances may vary. If consumed daily, limit to 2 oz. per day. During periods of sickness, 4 oz. is recommended, with some calling for up to 8 oz. (divided between 4-5 servings).

(Note that I also have a recipe on this site for a lacto-fermented version, which is slightly less acidic and is also probiotic; I happen to think fermented doesn’t taste as good but, as with this vinegar version, once you add honey or combine with other liquids, the flavor can be enhanced significantly.)

Although I have been making fire cider for colds for a number of years, I am probably just as motivated by my enjoyment of the flavor. Beware if you are new to it: it is hot and very potent! After the ingredients steep for at least a month (longer increasing the potency), I like to strain out just the liquid, and dissolve honey into it. I also dehydrate the solids to make a kind of vinegar seasoning as well (think “salt & fire cider vinegar potato chips”!).

This sweetened liquid can be drunk on its own, added to herbal teas, smoothies, or juice, or even used in culinary applications.

What makes my fire cider different than others is I try to incorporate an added ingredient or two that imparts a nice bright red color (it’s called “fire cider” after all). Try adding even just one small sliced beet, or several pitted cherries, hibiscus flower, pomegranate, etc. You won’t be disappointed!

So let’s do this!

Note: Using organic ingredients is recommended. You can sub out any veggies for others as preferred. For example, if you don’t want hot peppers, feel free to chop up sweet peppers, or add another ingredient like shredded carrot or chopped celery.

You will need:

  • Half gallon mason jar
  • Knife & cutting board
  • Grater (for shredding vegetables)
  • Measuring cups & spoons
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Cheesecloth (later, for wringing out all liquid from pulps)
  • Canning funnel (recommended)
  • Mortar & pestle (recommended for coarsely grinding peppercorns or other spices added)


  • 4-5 cups organic apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup quartered garlic cloves (125g)
  • 1 cup diced onion (125g)
  • 2/3 cup shredded horseradish (50g)
  • 1/4 cup shredded ginger (25g)
  • 1/4 cup shredded turmeric root (25g)
  • 2 cayenne peppers, sliced (or sub, such as 2 jalapenos, or red chili flakes)
  • 1 small orange, thin sliced
  • 1 lemon, thin sliced
  • 1 lime, thin sliced
  • 2 tsp peppercorns, coarsely crushed (or other hard spices as desired, e.g. clove, allspice, coriander, cumin, etc.)
  • Optional: 1 beet, sliced
  • Optional: 3-4 stalks lemongrass, sliced
  • Herbs as available (the featured photo used several sprigs of lemon balm, rosemary, and thyme from my garden)


1.) Prepare all the ingredients as indicated above. Combine them into the mixing bowl.

2.) Using the (recommended) canning funnel, transfer the items to the jar. (I tend to add all the citrus slices at the end, to cover the smaller pieces and prevent floaters.)

3.) Seal tightly and allow to steep for a minimum of one month.

4.) When ready, strain the liquid from the solids and pulp. Use the cheesecloth to extract any additional liquid. You may bottle the fire cider or dissolve honey in beforehand if desired (recommend starting with 1/4 cup and adding more to taste).

Note that as time passes, the fire cider will become increasingly opaque, especially with the addition of beet and the like. It is doing exactly what it’s supposed to.

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