By now, we’d be surprised if you hadn’t heard about all the health-boosting power of apple cider vinegar. The pungent golden liquid is an all-star ingredient for promoting heart health, immune health, and healthy blood sugar. Plus, it packs antioxidants and B vitamins, along with the minerals calcium and potassium.
From salad dressings to straight-up shots, people are getting their fill of ACV—but there’s a new bevvie on the block that’s about to bring the heat: fire cider.
First thing’s first: Fire cider (a.k.a. ACV’s wild cousin) may be a new trend, but it’s been around for ages. In fact, the concoction—made by steeping ingredients like garlic, onion, honey, and hot peppers in apple cider vinegar—has long been a folk remedy used to promote immune health. You can use it just like you’d use apple cider vinegar, but it’s more brazen, more intense, and even more packed with good-for-you-ness. The idea is, all of these ingredients—each health-promoting in their own right—come together to form a tonic that’s beneficial for your health as it is eye-watering.
With the internet chock-full of recipes for homemade fire cider, the tonic has become so popular that you can even buy it bottled now (three cheers for Shire City Herbals’ Fire Cider). Here are the details about fire cider’s powerful ingredients—and how the drink can boost your health.
Found in DIY recipes and bottled fire ciders alike, garlic is part of a group of vegetables known as ‘alliums.’ (It also includes shallots, onions, chives, and leeks.) Allium vegetables are rich in organosulfur compounds (a.k.a. sulfur) that support heart health, blood pressure, liver function, and gastrointestinal health. Research suggests these organosulfur compounds also have antioxidant properties and stimulate the immune system.
Like garlic, onions also contain organosulfur compounds and offer antioxidant benefits. Plus, onions contain a specific flavonoid (a type of antioxidant) called quercetin, that helps to mitigate inflammation-triggering compounds in the body.
Many fire ciders also contain some sort of chili pepper. (Shire City Herbals’ blend uses habañero peppers.) These peppers get their kick from a compound called capsaicin, which not only contributes to their flavor, but also contributes to health in multiple ways. Capsaicin stimulates our metabolism, supports blood vessel function, and bolsters our immune system by mediating the production of pro-inflammatory molecules called cytokines.
You may also find honey in fire cider because it’s a great natural way to sweeten things up. And if the honey used in a fire cider tonic is raw, it offers perks beyond tasting delicious, as raw honey contains antioxidant compounds called polyphenols and flavonoids.
Shire City Herbals fire cider tonic adds a few extra ingredients to their recipe to really punch up the power of their drink. One is a spice you probably already know in love: turmeric. This warm, golden spice contains an antioxidant called curcumin that both promotes a strong immune system and eases digestive issues.
Didn’t think there were any super-spicy ingredients left to be added to this intense tonic? Think again. Shire City Herbals also adds horseradish—yet another antioxidant-packed plant—to their concoction. Horseradish root contains the antioxidants kaempferol and quercetin, and also contains sulfur-containing compounds called glucosinolates that support liver detoxification.
How To Get Fired Up
“Fire cider is a fantastic way to incorporate many functional foods into your routine all at once,” says Kathleen Jones, M.S.A.C.N., C.N.S., nutritionist for The Vitamin Shoppe. You can take shots of the tonic straight, mix it into tea or warm water, or even add it to savory recipes for extra kick. Jones likes adding fire cider to homemade chili and using it in seafood marinades and salad dressings.
Ready to bring on the heat? Try Shire City Herbals’ fire ciders for yourself!