We are well into Autumn, the temperatures are starting to drop, and Cold and Flu season is right around the corner. Today, I started one of my favorite cold & flu prevention / remedies….Fire Cider. This recipe came from my herbal teacher and mentor, Rosemary Gladstar. I love this recipe so much, I talk about it in almost every herbal class I teach!
Are you wondering yet, what exactly is Fire Cider? It is a delicious and spicy vinegar based tincture. It can be used in salad dressings or simply eaten by the spoonful to ward off those nasty viruses. Wondering what is in Fire Cider that kills viruses?
Garlic, Onion, Horseradish, Ginger & Cayenne…and raw, unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV).
These ingredients will certainly kill what ails you! Don’t worry too much about amounts…just peel and chop a bunch of each (for the cayenne, just use an inch of a fresh pepper or a teaspoon or so of dried pepper flakes). Fill a mason jar with your chopped ingredients and cayenne, then pour in ACV to fully cover them. Put on a lid and shake it around a bit.
Now we wait. It typically takes 3-6 weeks (shaking every day or two) for all of the herbal goodness to leave the plant material and fortify your ACV. You will notice the chopped roots and bulbs start breaking down and looking a bit spent by the end of the process. When you deem it complete, simply strain the vinegar and put it in a bottle or pretty cruet.
When you notice people around you coughing and blowing their nose, or when you feel that scratchiness in your throat or tightness in your lungs, take a TBSP of the vinegar once or twice a day, until you feel the threat pass! Don’t welcome those sick bugs into your body – let them know they are unwanted.
The flavor is potent, but eventually you get used to it. However, if you are sensitive to strong flavors, feel free to dilute it in a small glass of water.
Stay healthy and happy!
Do you know the word “tincture”? If you are familiar with herbal remedies, you may…but often, people I speak with have never heard the word. That’s unfortunate because it is a great way to use herbs .
If you have ever seen an herbed vinegar (a fancy decanter of vinegar with a sprig of tarragon perhaps), then you have seen a tincture. Typically, the idea behind a tincture is that you extract the medicinal (and culinary) goodness out of your herbs into either alcohol or vinegar (you can also use vegetable glycerin if you want something for children).
I typically use alcohol for stinky herbs (ones that don’t taste very good in teas) or for a blend that I will use for more of an acute issue. I use vinegar for more tonic herbs…something I might want to take daily and even incorporate into my food.
So, how does one make a tincture you ask? It’s very simple. Get yourself a mason jar, add a bunch of dried herbs, and then fill it up with either vodka or a good apple cider vinegar (ACV). You can also use rum or brandy….the higher the alcohol % the better. Seal it up and set it on your counter. Keep it out of direct sunlight and away from any heat sources. Let it sit for several weeks (3-6), gently inverting to mix every couple days. The longer you let it sit, the stronger your tincture will be. When you’re ready, strain out the herbs and you put the liquid into a nice container. I like to use a bottle with a dropper for alcohol tinctures and a vinegar cruet for vinegar tinctures.
So what will you tincture? You could start with a nice culinary vinegar, since most culinary herbs do have medicinal properties. Basil, garlic & thyme with ACV is delicious and it’s antibacterial & antiviral.
Do you have a nice herbal remedy tea blend? Tea is a great way to take herbs, but when you are traveling or unable to easily make tea, a tincture is a great option. Take a small jar, add in a bunch of your loose tea, then add vodka or vinegar to cover. Let sit, strain and enjoy!!
Don’t get too caught up in amounts. Fill the jar about ½ full of herbs then fill with liquid...if you want a stronger product, fill the jar ¾ with herbs. It’s all good! Just get it in the jar ASAP so you have your tincture ready when you need it!
Thinking about starting an herb garden?? That’s great news! I love having fresh herbs at my finger tips and they are so cheap to grow (compared with the pricey little bundles available at your grocery store).
I live in Western New York, so most culinary herbs are annual here (with a few exceptions such as oregano, dill, mints and thyme). Not the end of the world – it’s still cheaper to buy a few plants than to purchase from a grocery store. If you want to be really frugal, you can start your herbs from seed; however, I’m a little too lazy for that.
So your one of your first questions is probably "what will I plant?" Well first and foremost, plant what you will use. Are you looking for culinary herbs? Herbs to make teas? Herbs that just smell nice or look pretty? Below is what I grow in my herbal garden –
Culinary: Basil, Rosemary, Oregano, Thyme, Parsley, Sage, Chives, Cilantro, Tarragon
Tea: Lemon Balm, Chamomile, Spearmint, Peppermint, Yarrow, Lemon Verbena
Other: Echinacea, Lavender, Tansy
Next you need a small garden space or flower bed, some good dirt and your plants. Break up the dirt, add some compost to boost the nutrients in the soil, put your plants in the dirt and water them. Keep them watered through the hot summer, but not so much that the ground is always soggy. The plants will let you know when they need water...they get a little droopy.
Even if you don’t have space for a typical outdoor garden, you can still plant an herb garden. There are many options, you just need good potting soil and your plants. Get creative!
A tabletop herb garden - makes a great centerpiece on your outdoor table. Just find a large shallow planter, add dirt and a handful of your favorite herb plants.
A window box outside a kitchen window – simply open the window and trim off some herbs to brighten up your dinner.
A container garden – plant herbs in several different containers to set around your porch or even just on the steps going up to your front door.
A window sill garden – similar to the window box, just indoors on a window sill.
I hope the pictures I included here have inspired you to start your own herb garden. I will post pictures of mine later in the season!!
Happy herb gardening!
PS - If you have not joined my email list on the main page of this website, please do so now! You don't want to miss out on my May Newsletter - which is all about veggie gardens! (cuz they equal happiness too! :-) )
Thank you for visiting my blog. If you or someone you know is interested in living a healthier, happier and more balanced life - email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
No, I"m not talking about red-heads...I'm talking about that wonderfully spicy herb in the produce section of your local grocery store!
Ginger is often used to aid digestion, as well as to treat nausea, gas, diarrhea, acid indigestion, as well as general stomach upset. While ginger has such a positive effect on nearly every stomach ailment you can think of (from morning sickness to chemotherapy stomach upset), it has several other benefits. Ginger has a warming effect that can be helpful when suffering from the common cold. It is said to decrease cholesterol, increase cardiovascular health, lower blood pressure, as well as to treat arthritis. It is also has an overall detoxifying effect, which makes it a great addition to your diet to counteract all the toxins we come in contact with/inhale/ingest during our day.
Try a delicious ginger tea after dinner or when you are feeling under the weather. Simply slice up about an inch of root, pour hot water over it and steep for 5-10 mins. Strain out the ginger, add a splash of lemon juice and a dollop of honey...and enjoy.
Want another delicious way to use ginger? Try these yummy cookies!
TRIPLE GINGER COOKIES
2C AP flour ¼ C molasses
2 tsp baking soda 1 egg
1 tsp ground ginger 1 TBSP minced fresh ginger
½ tsp salt 1 TBSP minced crystalized ginger
¾ C margarine if using hard version from spice rack, soak in boiling water to 1 ¼ C sugar, divided soften
Sift flour, baking soda, ground ginger and salt into medium bowl. Melt margarine in small saucepan, pour into large bow and cool. Add 1 cup sugar, molasses and egg; mix well. Add flour mixture, mix well. Add other gingers and mix until just blended. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Heat oven to 375F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Form 1 inch balls, roll in sugar, place 3” apart. Bake 8-12 minutes. (8 mins for chewy, up to 12 for very crisp)
These are the best ginger cookies I have ever had!!! Give them a try!
There are many ways to use ginger in your diet: from the recipes above, to adding it to salad dressings or throwing some in your rice or in a stir-fry. Experiment. Just keep in mind that ginger has a strong flavor, so start out sparingly, you can always add more.
Today, make nourishing yourself a priority.
Most of us first became familiar with dill by way of the classic dill pickle…served with every sandwich, on every hamburger and part of every relish tray at every holiday! But in addition to making a great pickle, dill has several more medicinal uses. Did you know that dill has carminative properties, meaning it helps to ease gas pain. Actually, it is an overall digestive aid, making it a great addition to any meal. I’ve read of several herbalist that have added a dill tea to baby formula to ease colic (definitely check with your pediatrician first!!)
Dill works to counteract bad breath, which may be why it is often served with fish!
It is often included in detox diets because it is beneficial for the liver and gallbladder. Its gentle diuretic qualities make it a great for kidney detox and it is often used by herbalists to promote healthy kidney function.
Dill has a mild muscle relaxant quality that makes it useful for coughs, menstrual cramps and sleep disorders.
Even above herbal teas, my favorite way to take herbs is as food. So many of our culinary herbs have great health benefits. I highly recommend the use of copious amounts of fresh herbs in your cooking. If you don’t have fresh herbs, use lots of high quality dried herbs!
If you do have dill growing in your herb garden, then it’s a safe bet that you have more dill than you know what to do with! Here are a few suggestions….
-Create a dill mayo by chopping dill and combining with regular mayo and a small squeeze of lemon. Serve in place of tartar sauce.
-Add fresh dill to your tuna and macaroni salads. It adds a delicious freshness to it!
-Change up traditional tabbouleh salad by replacing the mint with dill. It gives it a completely different favor, but still fresh and in season! Not familiar with tabbouleh? just search your favorite recipe site.
-Make a lemon/mustard/dill vinegrette for your next salad (or as a marinade for seafood or chicken). Simply juice a lemon, add a squirt of good mustard, add a TBSP of chopped dill, pour in a little olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper, then mix away. Adjust proportions to your taste.
-Sprinkle chopped dill over sautéed veggies like summer squash or green beans.
-Toward the end of the season, collect the seeds for some wonderful dill flavor in soups and marinades…or simply to chew on after a meal.
-Or simply steep the fronds in a cup of hot water and enjoy a cup of dill tea.
Dill is a great herb, but if you go overboard (ie. drink 5 cups of dill tea a day for a week), it can have a very negative affect on your health. As with all herbs, moderation is key.
Tracy Martorana is a Nutrition & Wellness Consultant, Meditation Instructor and Herbalist...hoping to inspire you to live your life from a place of Holistic Wellness.