Fire Cider Experiment

Torey Posts: 5,516 admin
edited November 2020 in Herbal Medicine-Making

A few weeks ago there was a discussion about pine needles. I mentioned Douglas Fir needles and then posted that I was going to do an experiment with two batches of fire cider; one with local ingredients and one with non-local. So here are the results of the experiment along with the recipes.

Non-local Ingredients: 

  • 1 1/2 cups chopped red onions
  • 1/2 cup grated horseradish
  • 1/2 cup minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup minced ginger
  • 2 thin slices of lemon
  • 1 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • 1 whole dried, long red cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup total of fresh garden herbs including thyme, sage, rosemary, oregano
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 1/4 cups apple cider vinegar

Place all the herbs into a quart glass jar. 

Add the honey. 

Pour in the vinegar until it is 1/4 inch from the top of the jar. 

Cover with a non-reactive lid, preferably glass. You can also use a plastic lid. Or, use parchment paper as a barrier between the liquid and a metal lid. 

Let sit for 2-4 weeks. Give it a taste regularly to see how it develops. 

When ready, strain. This is best when used within 1 year. 

Local Ingredients: 

  • 1 1/2 cups chopped red onions
  • 1/2 cup grated horseradish
  • 1/2 cup minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup Douglas Fir Needles
  • 8 dried juniper berries
  • 1 whole dried, long red cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup total of fresh garden herbs including thyme, sage, rosemary, oregano, hyssop
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 1/4 cups apple cider vinegar

So which one do I prefer? I like them both; I can't decide which one I like best. I can taste the Doug fir and rose hips but not the juniper. Nice to know that you can make a great tasting fire cider with all local ingredients.



  • Melissa Swartz
    Melissa Swartz Posts: 270 ✭✭✭

    Thanks for posting your results. It's always good to hear from people who are actually experimenting!

  • blevinandwomba
    blevinandwomba Posts: 813 ✭✭✭✭

    @torey can you describe what douglass fir taste like? Is it anything like pine? Herbal?

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,516 admin


    You can definitely tell that its a conifer so kind of piney but it also has a bit of a lemon taste as well. I was fortunate enough to be one of Rosalee de la Foret's testers for her upcoming new recipe book, One of the recipes I got to test was for Douglas Fir Olive Oil Cake. It was delicious and I am excited for the book to come out. Many awesome recipes.

  • tammyrichardsmt9
    tammyrichardsmt9 Posts: 109 ✭✭✭

    Thanks for sharing! I may have to try this!

  • Merin Porter
    Merin Porter Posts: 1,026 admin

    @torey, that's what I was thinking, too -- the pine tips we snack on around here have a lemony taste....

  • maimover
    maimover Posts: 359 ✭✭✭

    @blevinandwomba how incredibly awesome! I watched the Taste of Herbs and was just a few hours shy of making the course purchase. So...I did the next best thing and got the herbal remedy kit. So incredibly awesome! What a sweet privilege...

  • Leslie Carl
    Leslie Carl Posts: 255 ✭✭✭✭

    @torey Hmmm... You said you could taste rose hips in the second recipe, but I don't see any rose hips listed. How much rose hips did you put in that recipe?

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,516 admin

    @Leslie Carl

    My apologies!!! I used 1/4 cup rose hips.

  • sarah121
    sarah121 Posts: 129 ✭✭✭

    Just fabulous! I would love to make some recipes with pine at this time of year!

    Last year I contacted the supplier of our pine (Xmas) tree when it was time to take it down to see if I could use the needles for some medicine making experiments. I was so downhearted to get the reply which was that most commercial trees are sprayed to stop the needles from dropping, and so I shouldn't attempt to use the tree for anything other than firewood.

    I'd love to see some sort of "needle exchange" here for folk who would like to recycle their festive trees. I wonder how many of us in the community are able to ethically source our trees and if they replant or recycle the tree after the big day? Anyone? I would love to be more sustainable but it is so difficult in the area I live.

  • DeeperEating
    DeeperEating Posts: 63 ✭✭✭

    I'm just reading this one and am very excited about how this experiment went for you. I want to try to focus my herbal and home remedies on items I can obtain or grow locally almost exclusively and while it can be limiting it can also lead to some really great creativity.

    I have a large white spruce growing in my backyard that I am definitely going to save the tips from next year and think a fire cider would be a great use for some of them!

    Thanks so much for sharing.

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,516 admin

    @bejer19 & @sarah121

    Spruce would be good in this recipe as well. I use spruce tips in the spring to make a honey that is awesome for sore throats, coughs and colds. Aside from the spring growth tips, conifer needles are highest in Vitamin C during the winter. How nice of Mother Nature to do this for us when we need it the most.

  • SherryA
    SherryA Posts: 314 ✭✭✭

    I've made tea with Douglas Fir spring tips. Very tasty! I hadn't thought of putting them in fire cider, but it's a great idea!

  • Ruth Ann Reyes
    Ruth Ann Reyes Posts: 576 admin

    Awesome, thanks for this!

  • herbantherapy
    herbantherapy Posts: 453 ✭✭✭✭

    @torey I have been playing with juniper this month and have discovered the dried berries need a little pre-crushing to release the flavor in cooking and tea blends. If mixed with very mild herbs like chamomile the juniper taste comes through but mixed with rosemary I need to crack open the berries. Maybe in the next batch you could try that.

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,516 admin

    @herbantherapy Thanks for the suggestion! I will try that next time. I can always taste it when they are cooked. You need very little to season game dishes. So the cooking really helps to release the volatile oils and flavours.

  • Monek Marie
    Monek Marie Posts: 3,535 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I have been wanting to make a fire cider. I like the idea of local ingredients."

    My brother is having major health issues. I was thinking fire cider might help him

  • Acequiamadre
    Acequiamadre Posts: 269 ✭✭✭

    I never thought about adding needles or juniper, so this is inspirational!

    In fact, I need to start another batch today...

  • jowitt.europe
    jowitt.europe Posts: 1,413 admin

    @torey I will try out the one with local ingredients. Two years have passed since you posted it. Are you continuing making the one with local or the one with non-local ingredients. Or both?

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,516 admin

    @jowitt.europe I switch up what I put in my fire cider (or fire honey), depending on what ingredients I have at hand. Sometimes its a mix of both local and imported.

  • monica197
    monica197 Posts: 332 ✭✭✭✭✭

    great experiment - I wonder if the taste will develop over time, kind of like soup does

    Do you think one will store better than the other?

  • vickeym
    vickeym Posts: 2,020 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Great to know spruce can be used. We have lots of spruce. Though after the spruce beetles went through there are not as many as there used to be.

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,516 admin

    @monica197 It doesn't usually last long enough to see whether the flavour changes much over a longer time period. :)

    I can't see there being much difference in the length of time that either one will keep. Both have highly antibacterial ingredients. The conifer needles have as much or more Vitamin C than the lemons. The juniper berries are more antiseptic than peppercorns.

    If I could find some wild ginger, I would add that, too, but it isn't as local. I'd have to drive for 5-6 hours to find any. I am thinking of other roots that I could add to this but not sure what they would add to the flavour. False Solomon's Seal root (Maianthemum racemosum) is used for coughs and colds so it is something I might try. Desert Parsley might be another good one. But these are in my area. Everyone should check out roots in there own areas to try out.

    @vickeym I think you could use most species of spruce, fir and pine in this. I wouldn't use hemlock (not such a nice taste) or cedar.

  • vickeym
    vickeym Posts: 2,020 ✭✭✭✭✭

    torey I checked with my husband and he told me we have mostly white spruce on our property and access to black spruce. Which we call swamp spruce. Still working to find out what wild roots and such are in my state, community and local neighborhood as well as trying to identify usable plants on our own property. I know we have devil's club. LOTS of devil's club. It is used regularly for pain salves and such here.

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,516 admin

    @vickeym There is a BC company that makes Devil's Fire Cider. All the usual ingredients plus Devil's Club. Devil's Club has many uses by First Nations in the Pacific Northwest; pain relief, cardiovascular health, diabetic management, respiratory illnesses, digestive issues, cancers, skin conditions, etc., etc. You are lucky to have it. Did you know its in the ginseng family? So its a tonic herb, too.

    Tomorrow morning, one of the presenter's at the Canadian Herb Conference is doing a workshop on Devil's Club & Poke Root. Two very potent herbs.

    I'd sure like to come for a visit and go on a plant walk in Alaska. Do you have False Solomon's Seal? Its usually in Devil's Club habitat. Its one I am thinking about adding to a fire cider. I looked on my plant atlas and it is showing some as far north as Manley Hotsprings.

  • vickeym
    vickeym Posts: 2,020 ✭✭✭✭✭

    torey I will have to look it up and see what I'm looking for then wait till spring to go look. LOL

    I would love to have someone with your knowledge to go on a plant walk with. There are only a few so far that I have found and I'm comfortable enough with my identification to move forward with.

    I will be looking into the devil's club or devil's cider and see what I can do to add it to my tonics. I did know it was related to ginseng. I had been wondering if it would be medicinal for more than external use. Thank you for confirming and giving me a direction to go looking.

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,516 admin

    @vickeym Check out the new discussion I started for False Solomon's Seal. The plants are pretty easy to recognise if you have them in your area.

  • JennyT Upstate South Carolina
    JennyT Upstate South Carolina Posts: 1,273 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I'm thrilled this thread was revived as I was not part of TGN back when this thread was first started.

    I'd love to experiment with my fire cider recipe now that I'm more comfortable with making it. ☺️

  • Marjory Wildcraft
    Marjory Wildcraft Posts: 1,585 admin

    Hi @torey you have an interesting process. I usually lets the fire cider mature and only add the honey later after I've strained the cider out from the bulk ingrediants.

  • Brindy
    Brindy Posts: 212 ✭✭✭

    I can't wait to make fire cider. I'm so glad this was brought back out. I've seen multiple versions and I want to try them all. I think I'm going to try to do local. Thank you for posting!

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,516 admin

    @Marjory Wildcraft Not sure if it matters whether or not the honey goes in with the ingredients or after. Different recipes suggest both methods. The next time I make a batch I will try sweetening after straining. It would give more control over the final sweetness level.