Make Your Own Immune-Boosting Herbal Harvest Cider Tonic

By Catherine Winter

Just about everyone has a go-to elixir they use to fend off the dreaded lurgy over the colder months. Some people swear by chicken soup, others drink gallons of ginger-lemon tea with honey and cayenne pepper. I’ve taken to sipping the gila harvest cider tonic my dear friend Kiva Rose Hardin formulated, and it hasn’t let me down yet.

Fire Cider
Photo credit: Relished Food

Now that we’re getting into harvest season, it’s an ideal time to brew up a jar (or seven) of this fabulous tonic. There are garden-fresh ingredients to work with, and by the time it’s finished curing (which takes several weeks), you’ll have a batch to help you fight off autumn and winter colds.

In fact, now’s the time to start making all kinds of autumn and winter medicines. Note to self: get on that.

Try to use organic ingredients whenever you can. When it comes to fortifying and nurturing your immune system, the last thing you need is a bunch of unwelcome (and damaging) pesticides clinging to your ingredients.

What You’ll Need:

This is like a variation of Rosemary Gladstar’s fire cider, but isn’t as fiery. It’s warming, and deliciously tangy, but not super hot.

Herbs and Ingredients

  • A clean 1-quart mason jar, with a lid
  • 1/2 cup fresh turmeric, chopped
  • 3/4 cup tulsi or regular basil, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons dried coriander seeds, crushed
  • 1/2 cup fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 head of fresh garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup dried hawthorn berries, whole
  • 2 tablespoons orange peel, grated or chopped
  • 1 whole red chile pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 handful sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 3+ cups organic apple cider vinegar
  • Raw honey (which will be added after this cures for at least a month)

How to Prepare It:

Garlic

Layer the ingredients bit by bit, starting with the ginger or turmeric and then just alternating whichever layers you think will look interesting. You can also adapt the ingredients to suit your personal preferences or dietary restrictions.

Personally, I like to add in a pinch of horseradish and some grated onion for extra kick, and some umeboshi plum for an interesting umami note. I even knew someone who added tamarind to theirs. Feel free to get creative.

Making Fire Cider
Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons

After you’ve layered in all the solid ingredients, add the apple cider vinegar. Make sure to use a chopstick or butter knife to move everything around a bit, releasing any bubbles that might have formed. Then add enough cider to fill the jar almost completely.

Pop the lid on, stick the jar in a cool, dark place, and just give it a bit of a shake every few days. Strain it thoroughly after 4–6 weeks. This is the point where you’ll add raw honey a spoonful at a time until you find it sweet enough. Compost the herbs, and store the cider in the fridge.

Now that you have this spectacular, immune-boosting tonic, you can sip it by the spoonful, add it to soups and juices, or even use it as a salad dressing.

If you liked this post, here are a few others that may interest you:

+ Bone Broth: A Nutrient-Dense, Healing Elixir

+ Herbal Chest Salve for Flu Season

+ DIY: Passionflower Tincture for Anxiety and Stress Relief

Wishing you good health!

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