how to make habanero hibiscus fire cider with orange peels, onion, garlic, ginger

Give Your Fire Cider a Ruby-Red Twist with Hibiscus, Habanero, & Rosehips

Our immune systems work around the clock, well into overtime, and oftentimes in perpetual overdrive to keep us happy and healthy. It’s the least we can do to give them a little boost whenever we can. If you haven’t already added ever-so-popular herbal remedy fire cider to your team of health defenders, try this easy DIY recipe for hibiscus fire cider with rosehips and orange peel. It’s tangy, pungent, a little spicy, a tad bit sweet, and living the high life on tons of vitamin C. Plus, it brings some digestive benefits too!

HERE YOU’LL FIND:
What is Fire Cider?
The Fire Cider Trademark Story
The Health Benefits of Fire Cider
How to Make Hibiscus Fire Cider
Fire Cider FAQs
Recipe for Fire Cider with Habanero & Hibiscus

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jar of habanero hibiscus fire cider with bulb of garlic and sliced orange

What is Fire Cider?

Fire cider is a simple pungent and spicy apple cider vinegar infusion full of immune-boosting goodness. It first appeared in the herbal world in the late 1970s/early 1980s at the California School of Herbal Studies where renowned and beloved herbalist Rosemary Gladstar concocted it to share with her students.

This apple cider vinegar infusion, now widely recognized near and far, is typically made with everyday kitchen items like onions, fresh garlic, ginger root, horseradish, turmeric, and spicy chili peppers like cayenne. Then after it’s strained, it’s sweetened with a little bit of honey just to make it go down easier.

It’s pungent, spicy, super immune-boosting, and so easy to tweak to your tastes. If you don’t really care for spicy foods, just leave out the spicy chili peppers! Plus, I like to think of fire cider as a kitchen-sink kind of herbal infusion. In other words, use what you have!

So many of our kitchen staples, like onions, garlic, and even fresh herbs like thyme and rosemary, are so incredibly beneficial to your health that you can’t really go wrong! The goal is to make a pungent, spicy, immune-boosting apple cider vinegar infusion and then sweeten it with a little honey. And there are so many ways to do that!

In fact, Rosemary’s original recipe included ginger, onion, garlic, horseradish, and cayenne pepper. Today, there are hundreds of recipes for fire cider. Just as Rosemary intended, many herbalists have put their own unique touch on it. Like many of the things we make in our kitchen or culinary herbalism adventures, recipes are only guidelines.


That One Time Fire Cider Got Locked Up

Did you hear the news?! In 2012, Shire City Herbals based in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, applied to trademark the name “fire cider” for their herbal products. And they were granted the trademark! However, as soon as the herbalist community caught word, there was a justified uproar that resulted in a 5-year lawsuit.

To make a long story really, really short, the trademark was eventually canceled and the term fire cider freed up to be used once again by the herbalist community. The verdict was that the product name fire cider was a generic name, never something to be owned. And due to a dedicated group of three herbalists (the Fire Cider Three) and a huge community of support, that tradition was preserved for us all.

It’s a legitimate story of triumph for herbal traditions. Rosemary Gladstar’s story is worth a read.


The Health Benefits of Fire Cider

Fire cider is touted as an immune-boosting tonic that can help to prevent and shorten the duration of immune attacks like cold and flu. Over the decades, it has become a wintertime staple in many herbal wellness bags of tricks.

One of the lesser talked about health benefits of fire cider is as a digestive aid.

However, there’s currently no research to support these health claims. But if you look at it from a “food as medicine” perspective, the legitimacy of the health benefits becomes much clearer.

For example, if we look at the health benefits of the individual ingredients by themselves, the health benefits of fire cider are a no-brainer… if you ask me.

Here’s a small look into the enormous amount of health benefits found in traditional fire cider ingredients:

  • The health benefits of ginger also include antioxidant, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory. Plus, ginger can help to warm the body and stimulate circulation, helping us to fight off infection.
  • Horseradish, as you might imagine, is a potent medicinal. A 2021 review of shared that studies have found horseradish to also be antioxidant, antimicrobial, and even anticancer. It also contains enzymes that stimulate digestion, help to regulate bowel movements, and prevent constipation.

If we do the math, fire cider is a badass. Don’t you think?!


The Health Benefits of Hibiscus

Hibiscus isn’t a traditional or even a very common fire cider ingredient. Accordingly, I thought it deserved a lil’ spotlight. While not a super common spice or food ingredient, especially not in the United States, it is an incredibly nutritive and medicinal herb commonly used in tropical and subtropical areas around the rest of the world.

Most recognized as a thirst-quenching, ruby-red iced tea or a spiced beverage in some parts of the world like Africa and Jamaica, the health benefits of hibiscus flowers include anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antimicrobial, and astringent.

They’re a notorious tonic to the heart and the entire cardiovascular system and have been found to help with high blood pressure.

There’s all that, plus, hibiscus is incredibly high in vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant on its own. Can you tell how perfectly hibiscus fits into an immune-supporting tonic like fire cider?!


The Health Benefits of Rosehips

Rosehips are another herb not original to the fire cider recipe, but as another potent source of vitamin C, they’re a perfect addition to this immune tonic. They are also particularly nourishing to the digestive system and can help protect against inflammation. In doing so, rosehips can help us to better absorb the nutrients from the food we eat.


organic herbs and spices from mountain rose herbs

How to Make Habanero Hibiscus Fire Cider

This fire cider recipe is wholly inspired by a popular recipe from Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine. I’ve added some twists and included some tweaks, as is the way of homemade herbal medicine. Suit it to your tastes and to the ingredients and supplies that you have on hand. That’s the easiest way to get it done and the most effective way to ensure that you’ll actually use and benefit from it.

This recipe is made in a quart-sized jar, however, you could always make more. Most years, I’ll make enough to last the whole year with some to spare. Fire cider makes great herbal gifts for friends and family, especially during cold and flu season.

Here’s a quick rundown of what you’ll need and how to make this hibiscus fire cider. If you’re ready for the full, detailed recipe, just skip ahead to the end of this post.

Equipment You’ll Need

Ingredients

  • Raw Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Raw, Local Honey
  • Organic Orange Peels
  • Red Onion (or Yellow)
  • Fresh Ginger
  • Fresh Garlic
  • Habanero Pepper
  • Fresh Horseraidsh Root
  • Fresh Turmeric Root (or ground turmeric)
  • Dried Hibiscus (whole or cut & sifted)
  • Dried Rosehips, cut & sifted

Method

  1. Prepare all ingredients. Wash all produce then chop into small pieces. For the orange peels, use a veggie peeler to carefully strip the outermost layer of peel from the oranges and then cut them into ~1/2″ size pieces. Grate the fresh ginger, garlic, turmeric, and horseradish. Dice the onion.
  1. Lightly pack ingredients into a glass jar. To the jar, add all your prepared fresh ingredients, along with the dried hibiscus and rosehips. Do not add honey yet.
  1. Fill the jar with apple cider vinegar. Cover all ingredients with apple cider vinegar. It took me ~3 cups of vinegar to fill the jar ~1/2″ from the top. Then place a square of wax paper on top of the jar before screwing the lid on tight.

    Because vinegar is highly acidic and corrosive, it can eat away at metal lids, leaving small bits of rust in your remedy. And I think it’s a good idea to generally avoid having your infusions touching plastic. Wax paper keeps a nice barrrier between your fire cider and the lid.
  1. Allow the vinegar to infuse for 30 days (or 4 weeks). A 4-week infusion time or one full moon cycle is a standard infusion time for many herbal preparations including tinctures and other herbal extracts.
  1. Strain. After 4 weeks, use a fine-mesh strainer lined with organic cheesecloth or muslin (or use an organic cotton nut milk bag) to strain the fire cider into another clean glass jar. (I like to use a 4-cup glass measuring cup with a pour spout, espcially when wanting to pour it into bottles.)

    **Before you compost all the veggies and herbs, check out Fire Cider FAQs for all the ways to use them!
  1. Stir in honey. After straining, stir in your raw, local honey.
DIY herbal cough & cold syrup (4 ingredient syrup with ginger, onion, garlic and honey)
ginger mint hot toddy with licorice root
elderberry gummies for immune health (kid-approved)

Need More Immune Support?! Try These:

DIY Cough & Cold Syrup
Elderberry Syrup – 3 Ways!
Kid-Approved Elderberry Gummies
Ginger Mint Hot Toddy
Elderberry Hot Toddy
Super Common Immune-Boosting Herbs & Spices

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Fire Cider FAQs

How do I use fire cider?

There are so many ways! The most common way to use fire cider is to take 1-2 oz shots of it. Some folks enjoy the taste of it on its own, while others prefer to mix it with a little water (hot or cold) or orange juice. Personally, I carry around a 4 oz. dropper bottle in my backpack with me and take a few full droppers throughout the day.

You can also use your fire cider in a number of recipes:

  • Try a Fire Cider Bloody Mary with kimchi and toasted nori! ::drool::
  • Use it to make salad dressings. Just replace the vinegar with fire cider! I highly recommend trying a fire cider honey mustard dressing!
  • Add a little splash of fire cider in your braising greens like kale and collards.
  • Use it to marinade meats, tofu, tempeh, and veggies.
  • Fire cider hummus is a popular way to use fire cider, although personaly, it’s not my fave.
  • Brighten up soups and stews with a splash.

And before you throw away all the veggies and herbs you strained from the vinegar, try making Fire Cider Chutney (scroll to the bottom), mix a little bit into homemade cracker dough before rolling and baking, or dehydrate it and then grind it to a powder to make your own fire cider spice blend for popcorn, stir-fries, salads, and more.

How often should I take fire cider?

Herbalist Rosemary Gladstar recommends a daily shot of fire cider as an immune tonic. However, if you’re feeling a little immune attack coming on, you can take more throughout the day. Many people like to take ~1 tablespoon of fire cider every 3-4 hours when they feel they need extra immune support.

How long does homemade fire cider last?

You’ll find information that recommends using homemade fire cider for anywhere from within 3 months to 2 years. That’s a big difference! Personally, I aim to use it within a year. While apple cider vinegar and honey are powerful natural preservatives, I like to start with a fresh batch every fall.

If you’d like to stretch its shelf-life, keep it stored in the refrigerator. And always use your senses when determining if a homemade herbal product is still safe to consume. If there are any unfavorable changes in color, smell, or taste, discard the product and start over. (Although know that for homemade fire cider, in particular, you may see sediment settle at the bottom of an undisturbed jar and the color may darken a little bit. These signs are generally normal.)

Does fire cider need refrigeration?

No, fire cider does not require refrigeration. The acidity of the apple cider vinegar and the natural preservative qualities of honey make this hibiscus fire cider pretty shelf-stable. However, you can prolong its shelf life by refrigerating.

Can you take fire cider on an empty stomach?

It depends on the person! Fire cider is pungent, spicy, and very acidic. It could easily upset an empty stomach, especially if you have a sensitive stomach to begin with. First thing in the morning probably isn’t the best time to take your daily shot of fire cider. However, you’ll find your own rhythm in fitting the magic of fire cider into your day.

Does fire cider cause diarrhea?

Good question! Fire cider is pungent, spicy, acidic, and can really get the digestive system moving and grooving! Unfortunately, if you have a sensitive stomach, this may result in loose bowels. Otherwise, it’s possible you’re consuming too much fire cider. If you’re sure that fire cider is the cause of your diarrhea (and not some underlying health condition that might require medical attention), you can try making sure that you don’t sip on fire cider on an empty stomach, add more honey, dilute with water or orange juice, or cut back on the amount you’re enjoying every day.

If none, of these things work (and your diarrhea isn’t a symptom of an underlying medical condition), fire cider may not be the best herbal remedy for you. And that’s okay! They made more than one immune-supportive herbal remedy like the wildly popular elderberry syrup!

There are so many other ways to boost your immune system. Learn more about making your own herbal digestive bitters for healthy digestion, 10 super common immune-boosting herbs and spices, and how to increase your nutrient absorption for better health.


For more plant magic & herbal wellness in your life, be sure to follow along on ➡️ Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter, & snag my herbal 📚 eBooks Nourishing Herbal Gifts & Holiday Pies from the (Un)Bakery. 🌿 And please don’t forget to tag me in your snaps 📸 @_botanyculture_. I love to see all the plant magic you make happen!

Habanero Hibiscus Fire Cider with Rosehips

Course: DrinksCuisine: Herbal RemedyDifficulty: Easy
Quantity

3

cups
Prep time

20

minutes
Infusion Time

30

days

Make this classic herbal remedy for year-round immune and digestive support. Hibiscus, rosehips, and orange peel add a giant dose of anti-inflammatory antioxidants and a brilliant ruby-red color. Enjoy this fire cider straight by the shot or use it in your salad dressings, marinades, Bloody Mary’s, soups, stews, and more.

Ingredients

  • 2 peels from organic oranges, chopped

  • 1 small red (or yellow) onion, chopped

  • 1 whole bulb garlic, peeled and chopped

  • 1 habanero pepper, de-seeded and chopped

  • 1/2 cup fresh ginger root, grated

  • 1/2 cup fresh horseradish root, grated

  • 1/4 cup fresh turmeric root, grated (or 1 tablespoon ground turmeric)

  • 1/4 cup dried rosehips, cut and sifted

  • 1/4 cup dried hibiscus, cut and sifted

  • ~ 3 cups raw apple cider vinegar (more or less depending on how much room you have left in your jar after all ingredients are added)

  • 1/4 cup raw, local honey (or more to taste)

Directions

  • Prepare all ingredients. Wash all produce then chop into small pieces.
    – For the orange peels, use a veggie peeler to carefully strip the outermost layer of peel from the oranges and then cut them into ~1/2″ size pieces.
    – Grate the fresh ginger, garlic, turmeric, and horseradish.
    – Dice the onion.
  • Lightly pack ingredients into a glass jar. To the jar, add all your prepared fresh ingredients, along with the dried hibiscus and rosehips. Do not add honey yet.
  • Fill the jar with apple cider vinegar. Cover all ingredients with apple cider vinegar. It took me ~3 cups of vinegar to fill the jar ~1/2″ from the top. You may need a little more or a little less depending on how much space your ingredients take up. Then place a square of wax paper between the jar and the lid and screw the lid on tight.
  • Allow the vinegar to infuse for 30 days (or 4 weeks). Before you set it and forget it for 4 weeks, you may need to add a little more apple cider vinegar the day after you make it. As the dried hibiscus and rosehips absorb the vinegar, they’ll expand. You want to make sure all the ingredients remain covered by the vinegar, otherwise, there is the risk of mold.

    Set the jar of fire cider in a cool location out of direct sunlight. Give the jar a shake as often as you remember. Be sure to either label the jar with the date or mark 4 weeks on your calendar so you know when to strain it.
  • Strain. After 4 weeks, use a fine-mesh strainer lined with organic cheesecloth or muslin (or use an organic cotton nut milk bag) to strain the fire cider into another clean glass jar. (I like to use a 4-cup glass measuring cup with a pour spout, especially when wanting to pour it into bottles.)

    **Before you compost all the veggies and herbs, check out Fire Cider FAQs for all the ways to use them!
  • Stir in honey. After straining, stir in your raw, local honey. You can add more or less depending on your taste. I recommend starting with 1/4 cup.
  • Store your fire cider properly. Store the fire cider in clean glass jars or bottles. You can use canning jars, recycled glass jars, swing-top bottles, or even 4 oz. dropper bottles. Be sure to label and date your jars.

    Store the jar(s) in a cool and dry location out of direct sunlight. There’s no need to refrigerate, however storing it in the refrigerator will increase its shelf life. Use within 6-12 months. (Although, some herbalists will say 12-18 months.)

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how to make hibiscus fire cider - an apple cider vinegar infusion of pungent and spicy veggies and herbs

DISCLAIMER: The information given in this article is intended for educational purposes only. Always consult with your healthcare practitioner before consuming certain herbs & medicinal foods, especially if pregnant, nursing, or taking any prescription medications.

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