I’ve gotten back into infusing things – and this round it’s vinegar…for drinking.
So far The Jupiter House has infused vodkas, made kombucha and secondary fermentations, then made shrubs. Each infusion was fun to learn, and opened our eyes and palettes to the amazing range of flavors that were just waiting in the pantry.
One day Pinterest showed me some graphics about the contents of fire cider; a casual yet medicinal vinegar intended to ward off illness and maintain health.
Until that day, I didn’t know what fire cider was, so I happily learned about it and was very pleased to see that I only needed to buy peppers; everything else was handy (minus the horseradish root that isn’t always available at my local grocery store).
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links; I may earn a tiny commission from purchases.
Fire cider has a few potential origin stories. One is that it was a warming concoction invented in the 1970s by holistic practitioner Rosemary Gladstar -or- that it is simply an ancient recipe used for countless generations. Regardless of origin, the principals and ideas are the same.
Fire cider is a vinegar-based fall & winter tonic used to warm you and cure ailments. It warms with its spicy ingredients like horseradish, ginger, and peppers. It cures with infused antioxidants like vitamin c in the citrus, and anti-fungal & anti-viral properties of the garlic and onion. There is no set recipe, just a bundle of oft-used ingredients.
The general idea is that you infuse apple cider vinegar with the ingredients of choice for at least three weeks, then strain out the solids. It is often sweetened after straining, but that’s up to you and your tastebuds. This is not intended to be a secondary fermentation of ACV, so be mindful to only sweeten after infusing for weeks. We prefer ours unsweetened, but with a splash of rye.
Usage is just as varied as the ingredients; you can have a plain shot daily, or dilute a splash in fizzy water as a tonic – then definitely increase your intake if you begin feeling unwell. You can use it to make salad dressings, and anywhere you would use vinegar. I like it sprinkled on rice.
After learning the basics about fire cider I was super happy to have most ingredients on-hand (surprise! That’s how Rosemary Gladstar’s modern recipe was made – it was intended to be easily made by most folks), I just needed more peppers.
When pepper shopping, I suddenly remembered that Mister Jupiter and I used to make shrubs; an infused vinegar mixer for bourbon. So I doubled my pepper purchase so I could search shrub recipes and methods again at home. Turns out that the difference between shrubs and fire cider are just the ingredients, purpose, and infusion times; turns out that our favorite peppery shrubs were just young fire ciders; they were infused for hours or days instead of weeks.
So I made three different infusions right away:
- one medicinal fire cider to use when we don’t feel 100 percent (also to use as a condiment for rice, because spicy vinegar on rice is amazing)
- a green shrub for cocktailing (fewer hot medicinal ingredients, more greens like basil)
- a detox inspired drinking vinegar with apples, lemon, and cayenne
These infusions have reminded me that seasonal eating is so practical. A lot of these infusions use in-house produce that needed to be used – thus preserving the bounty before it spoils.
Just like how I started making applesauce every two weeks to use up all of the fruit in the house. Or like how I used to make egg bites on the weekends with leftover veggies.
I appreciate that fire cider is intended to be a winter cure, but honestly, when I get the flu it’s in the spring. And sometimes Mister Jupiter gets hit with brief illnesses that only ail him for a few hours, regardless of season. So even though this medicinal tonic is meant for the winter months, I can and will likely make them more often and enjoy it year round.
Anyhoo, lets get on to the pieces and parts that I use to make my vinegars (and links to a few articles at the end if this is all new to you).
Here are five things that I use and enjoy for infusing vinegars.
- Plastic lids
- Serrated knives
- Wide mouth jars
- Organic produce
- Organic apple cider vinegar
— Plastic Lids
In our home, plastic lids work double duty.
When I infuse or “flash” pickle – a plastic lid will suffice. Real canning uses heat, metal lids and rings – I don’t actually can, so I don’t need the metal products. Luckily my plastic lids are perfect for vinegar infusions because the lids don’t corrode. The double duty bit points directly to my son who likes different foods on different plates…so I present his meals on various lids and food containers. He has no idea how Japanese this is, he just thinks it’s normal to have five dishes (one of them rice) each meal.
☞ Related: Food Photos from Tokyo Japan
Here’s a link to my favorite colored lids lately (a combination of wide and standard!).
If you have metal rings that you would rather use, place a layer of parchment paper under the ring to keep it away from the corrosive vinegar. Don’t use rusty rings.
— Serrated Knives
Usually I prefer my trusty 9″ santoku blade for everyday chopping, but I prefer a smaller serrated knife for vinegar infusion prep.
This is just personal preference; I prefer cutting citrus with a serrated edge. When cutting fruit for vinegar infusions I like looking at perfect slices – however it’s easy for air to get caught under said slices, so now I chop the citrus into chunks so that air bubbles don’t get stuck under my lemons, limes, grapefruit, or pomelos.
This tomato knife is similar to the Italian blade I use – but any serrated edge with a comfortable handle will be great.
— Wide-Mouth Jars
Traditional narrow-mouth jars work just fine of course, but I prefer wide.
Most of my jars are used to house leftover soups, homemade bone broth, homemade apple sauce, infused vinegar, and infused vodka.
My first infusions were vodka in small narrow-mouth jars, and I quickly learned that I prefer wide-mouth quart jars for everything else. Having a matching wide-mouth funnel makes a world of difference, and as a result our fridge always has several jars of soup, broth, or apple sauce ready to eat – because it’s SO EASY to load the good food into the jars.
Since these infused vinegars have so much produce, I infuse them in 32oz jars like this, then dispense the strained vinegar from a smaller 16oz jar.
— Organic Produce
I’ve always swayed towards organic everything, because I think it’s worth it to pay more dollars for fewer poisons on my food. Cost is definitely a factor, and one of the reasons that I love getting most of my organic produce from Misfits Market (here’s a discount code if they can ship to you: COOKWME-NJ8YAR).
Organic produce (regardless of seller) is a must-buy for anything infused. If you’re soaking something for weeks and intend to drink the medium you DON’T WANT TO INGEST PESTICIDES. Eww. Even when organic, I still rinse my things in a vinegar bath to safely clean the surfaces. I fill a large serving bowl with hot water and white vinegar (no soap!), and soak my citrus and peppers while I cut onions and peel & chop ginger and garlic.
— Organic Apple Cider Vinegar
I’m not going to go into reasons why a person may want to drink apple cider vinegar (ACV) because it’s easy to google and research on your own, but I can tell you honestly that if I’m drinking vinegar on purpose it’s either Bragg’s ACV or my own continuous-brewed kombucha that’s gotten vinegary on it’s own.
☞ Related: Kombucha Brewing
White vinegar has a similar bite, but it’s just not the same as ACV. I keep white vinegar for cooking (chicken adobo) and cleaning (coffee pots). But we keep Bragg’s apple cider vinegar to make tonics and shrubs.
I’ll be back soon to share some of my variants, and hope to inspire you to soak your own vinegars too! Meanwhile, here’s some reading material if you want to learn more and see some recipes (I’m not affiliated with the following sources – I’m just sharing them because I like these articles).
- nourishedkitchen.com – How to Make Fire Cider
- thekitchn.com – Fire Cider Recipes
- foodiewithfamily.com – Fire Cider Health Tonic and Homeopathic Remedy