Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Children's fire cider/ master tonic

Original "fire cider"
Fire cider, or master tonic as others like to call it, featured in a Facebook discussion a few weeks ago. For those not familiar, it's a traditional folk recipe based around raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar. 
To this herbs, onions, roots and various other bits and bobs are added. To clarify there is no alcohol!  It should really be called fire vinegar, but that sounds somewhat less appealing.
"Hot, pungent, sour, and sweet, fire cider is certainly not for the faint of heart. Yet this fiery concoction has been revered for generations as a simple and effective remedy to relieve sinus congestion, ward off colds and flu, aid digestion, and increase circulation."
You can find the above quote and the recipe I used here. 

I didn't need to wait the two weeks plus for it to "mature", to know this was going to be way too strong for the smalls.  Super hot chillies, heaps of horseradish and garlic - I did at one point joke perhaps it keeps you healthy as the odour emanating from your pores following consumption, means most give you a wide berth!

Anyway, I digress.

"Fire-ish cider"
I had some bits and bobs left over, so decided to throw together a children's version.  I used a 300ml jar and kept the "fiery ingredients",  but in much smaller quantities.  It's still pretty interesting, but my two had some the other night and said it was doable.

Horseradish isn't recommended for consumption by children under 4.  I'm not entirely sure whether this applies to fire cider as the solids are strained and only 1/2 - 1 tsp of the retained liquid is consumed each time.  However use your own judgement and leave it out if you're concerned.

That's the fun thing about fire cider, you can switch and change ingredients and amounts, depending on what you prefer and what you have locally available.

However I know some people like a "recipe", so here's my version of fire-ish cider :)

  • 3cm piece of horseradish root
  • 2 x shallots
  • 1/4 of fresh hot red chilli (I used cayenne)
  • 3cm fresh ginger root
  • 1 x "finger sized" of fresh turmeric root.  Mine left over were smaller and about widgety grub size, so I used a couple.   If you can't get fresh, you could substitute 1- 1 1/2 tsp of dried.
  • 2 x garlic cloves
  • 2 x small handful of roughly chopped blackberries, elderberries, haws, rowan berries. and/or rosehips.
  • 1 TBSP fresh parsley
  • 2 x sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2  x springs fresh thyme
(you could substitute 1/2 amounts of dried herbs I'm sure!)
  • Quarter of lemon sliced thinly
  • 4 slices of orange (peel on if organic)
  • 2 x star anise
  • Small piece of cinnamon stick, I just snapped a bit off
  • 3 cloves
  • 3 black peppercorns
  • 2 dates roughly chopped
  • Raw (unpasteurised) apple cider vinegar.  Ideally use one "with the mother" like Braggs or Ostlers.  If you're super lucky and spot this one by West Lake when out and about, it's extra delish!
You can either slice everything finely (with the exception of the hard spices and peppercorns obviously) and layer into jar as I did; or you can just peel and in a food processor for an even easier option.  This doesn't look as pretty, but would be faster if you're pushed for time.
After 2 weeks 
Add all the solid ingredients, pressing down slightly as you go.

Pour in apple cider vinegar until the jar is full, and continue to push down ingredients gently to release any air bubbles.  If you're using a jar with an unlined metal lid, add a piece of baking paper between the jar and lid to prevent the vinegar touching.  

Shake/turn the jar once or twice per day for 2+ weeks.  There doesn't seem to be any sort of time frame people agree on for this stage, some leave two weeks, some two months, some leave everything in and just strain a small amount as needed.  I left mine 3 weeks.

If you use any dried herbs or berries which will absorb liquid, check it frequently and add more apple cider vinegar as required to keep it topped up.

Strain through a fine mesh sieve, pressing all the liquid from the ingredients.   If you used rosehips with seeds, pass a second time through a muslin or jam bag, to ensure any tiny hairs are removed (do not squeeze the bag on the second pass).

Traditional fire cider is often taken with honey, with some choosing to dilute 50/50 at the bottling stage.  I
Finished "fire-ish cider"
didn't do this, as I wasn't sure how my raw or manuka honey would stand up to a vinegar bath.

Instead I added 1 tbsp of hot water (boiled and left to stand) to 1 tsp of fire-ish cider, and added 1 tsp of manuka honey just before serving (don't add boiling water to raw honey or you risk destroying the live enzymes).   You could also add a teaspoon of any other syrups you make, such as elderberry or mixed berry if the taste is too strong :)

Some take one teaspoon daily, upping to several times per day when unwell.  So for younger children 1/2 tsp should suffice.

Other uses for fire-ish cider:
  • Soak a clean cloth in the cider and place on a congested chest
  • As a muscle rub
  • Added to vegetables juices
  • As a salad dressing, combined with a good olive oil
  • To make home-made mustard
  • Splashed into stir fries

Some people retain the solids and use in other food products such as spring rolls.  Can't say I'm entirely convinced what that would taste like, but hey ho let me know if you try it.

Share your finished product widely with friends and family, not least so they won't notice your garlic breath!

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