Boost Your Immune System with Fire Cider Master Tonic

Jar of fire cider on a countertop

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Fire cider (also sometimes called Master Tonic) is a traditional folk remedy infused with powerful anti-microbial, decongestant, and circulatory herbs and spices. Adding a tablespoon of this to your diet every day can help boost your immune system, stimulate digestion, and warm you up on cold days. How perfect to make for a mid-winter pick-me-up!

Because this is a folk remedy, the ingredients can change from season to season depending on what’s growing around you at the time you make it. The base ingredients are apple cider vinegar, garlic, onion, ginger, horseradish, and hot peppers, which are mighty by themselves, but there are plenty of other herbs that can be added for extra strength, depending on what’s available to you.

Once you’ve made the fire cider recipe, this powerful brew needs to steep in a dark cupboard for a month to extract all the goodness from the ingredients. Some people even bury their jar of this master tonic in the ground for a month while it extracts—which I wouldn’t advise if you live where the ground freezes.

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Using Your Fire Cider Master Tonic

Once fully brewed and strained, fire cider can be taken straight by the spoonful, added to vegetable juice, splashed in rice dishes, or drizzled on salad with olive oil.

You can also sautée some of the strained pulp with shredded carrots, cabbage, broccoli, and fresh herbs to make delicious stir-fries and spring rolls.

For daily immune support, gargle and swallow one tablespoon of fire cider every day after breakfast. If you are fighting a cold or infection, take 1 Tablespoon of the tonic 5-6 times a day. Do not dilute the tonic in water as it will reduce the effect.

Be careful: The tonic is very strong and hot, especially if you did not add honey! Do not use on an empty stomach, and start with a teaspoon for the first few times. The tonic can cause nausea on an empty stomach if you are not used to it.

Fire cider is safe for pregnant women and children (use small doses!) because the ingredients are all-natural and contain no toxins.

Jar of fire cider on a countertop

Fire Cider Master Tonic

This fire cider recipe is a traditional folk remedy master tonic infused with powerful anti-microbial, decongestant, and circulatory herbs and spices. 
Prep Time: 30 mins
Total Time: 30 mins
Course: Food Medicine
Cuisine: Herbal Remedy
Approx. Cost: $8
Servings: 128 servings
Calories: 3kcal


  • 24 oz. apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup onion, minced
  • 1/2 cup fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1/2 cup horseradish, peeled and grated
  • 2 pieces turmeric root, peeled and grated, OR 2 tbsp turmeric powder
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 2 hot peppers, (jalepeño, habanero, etc., minced)
  • Zest and juice from 1 lemon
  • raw honey, to taste (OPTIONAL)

Optional Seasonal Additions:

  • Several sprigs of fresh organic rosemary, thyme or oregano
  • rosehips
  • star anise
  • schisandra berries
  • astragalus
  • parsley
  • burdock root
  • black peppercorns
  • Fresh orange, grapefruit, or lime juice and peels


  • Using a peeler and a food processor, peel and grate all the roots. 
  • Mince the garlic, onions and hot peppers, then zest and squeeze the lemon. (Gloves will be handy for handling the peppers.)
  • Combine all the ingredients in a ceramic or glass bowl, except for the vinegar and honey, and mix well.
  • Transfer the mixture to a one-quart Mason jar. Hold your face away from the jar as you fill it.
  • Pour in apple cider vinegar until you fill it to the top.
  • Use a piece of parchment paper under the jar lid to keep the vinegar from touching the metal, or better yet, use a silicone lid made for canning jars.
  • Shake well!
  • Store in a dark, cool place for one month and shake daily.
  • After one month, use cheesecloth or a nut milk bag to strain out the pulp, pouring the vinegar into a clean jar. Be sure to squeeze as much of the liquid as you can from the pulp.
  • You can use the tonic straight or, if you prefer, add 1/4 cup of honey and stir until incorporated to make cider. Taste your cider and add another 1/4 cup of honey until you reach the desired sweetness.
  • Use the rest of the dry mixture as seasoning when cooking.


Note: Turmeric stains everything, the peppers are hot, and horseradish root is strong enough to clear not just your sinuses, but the whole room. You may want to wear a mask to protect from horseradish fumes, and gloves to keep your hands clean and cool.


Calories: 3kcalCarbohydrates: 1gProtein: 1gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 4mgPotassium: 12mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 11IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 1mgIron: 1mg

29 thoughts on “Boost Your Immune System with Fire Cider Master Tonic”

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What do you think?

  1. I think the ingredient amounts are more of a preference. I also do not grate any of my roots. I just peel the roots and chop everything. I just wanted to comment on storage. Because this is a ferment with a vinegar base, you can store your brew in a vacuum sealed jar in the pantry. (It does not have to be stored in the refrigerator. It’s vinegar, it should store pretty much indefinitely if stored properly.) If one does not have a food vacuum sealer, a handheld can be bought on amazon. You will also need the regular mouth and wide mouth food saver jar attachments in order to reseal the jar (I’m speaking of mason jars). I reseal my jar after every use. Also, I ran my tonic scraps thru my masticating juicer twice after the initial draining and recovered two extra pints of juice! Out of a half-gallon jar of tonic, I ended up with four full pint jars of tonic. So if you have a juicer, run those scraps thru it. Afterwards, I took the pulp from the juicer and put it in the dehydrator to dry. Once dried, I ran the dried pulp thru my coffee grinder and made a powder—where I then made my own master tonic capsules! I wasted nothing.

  2. Joan Schnitzer

    Hello, I have made the cider tonic in the past. I have some that has been refrigerated for quite some time ( years). I do plan to make a fresh batch but I’m wondering if it spoils after time. Thoughts?

    1. Fire cider will last quite a while, but years? I don’t know about that one, and I’d err on the side of caution.

  3. 5 stars
    I’ve kept this on hand for years. I add organic, dried stinging nettle and usually have to add organic powdered turmeric since the roots are so dried out and old around here. I’m a fan. Thanks for all the info 🙂

  4. I have made two batches now. After one day my garlic starts to turn green. I know this isn’t normal. What could I be doing wrong? I’m putting parchment paper before the lid.

  5. 5 stars
    My fire cider brewed for 10 weeks. Is that too long? We had it in one of our cabinets in the kitchen. This is my first time brewing fire cider so I don’t have a baseline. It’s a golden color and there is sediment on the bottom but no mold and we didn’t use any plastic. What do you think? Thanks for sharing the recipe. I hope it’s still okay?

  6. 5 stars
    I just made mine, so I have a month to wait. Should it be stored in the fridge during this month? Or just my pantry is ok? I keep my house cool. And then after I strain it in a month, should it be kept in the fridge then? And Thamk you for sharing the recipie!


    1. As long as it is kept cool, it should be ok in your pantry, but if in doubt, brew it in the fridge. After straining I always keep it in the fridge.

  7. I made master tonic about 3 months ago and forgot to strain it and refrigerate it— is it still okay to use it and take it?

  8. My daughter gave me some a few days ago b/c I have the flu. I thought I’d make some of mine own and noticed that it is touted as an immune booster. My nutritionist told me to stay away from immune boosters b/c I have an auto immune disease. However, everything in it is natural and seems healthy. Do you have any knowledge or thoughts for people with auto immune disorders taking this tonic?

  9. It’s basically ACV, and I keep reading that you shouldn’t take ACV straight, as it can damage your esophagus (and teeth?).

    But all the fire cider/master tonic blog posts suggest to take it straight. Maybe fine for a cold, but I know many people take it daily for health.

    This all confuses me 🙂

    Do you have any thoughts on the topic?

    1. Fire cider is a tonic best used during cold and flu season, not a daily beverage. And because it is so spicy with the many other ingredients, you only take a tablespoon, usually. I don’t think this is going to cause any damage.

  10. I didn’t realize until after that I added the honey with everything else. Is it ruined? Should I store it in the fridge for a few week instead of the counter?

    1. I can’t say for sure if it is ruined, but keep an eye on it. If it develops mold or looks “off”, dispose of it.

  11. This blend looks like kimchi’s evil brother. I’ve only started dabbling in home fermenting with kefir, kombucha, and some kimchi.

    I have no doubt this will be an immune booster, but I wish I found this a couple months ago. I will build up the courage and make some fire cider for myself. How long can you store fire cider?

    1. It can last almost indefinitely in the fridge. Just a little teaspoon of the liquid as a daily tonic is enough. And you get used to it quickly!

    2. Marcia Stoner

      I made a delicious lactofermented fire cider “kimchi” by mixing the strained out veges with inch chopped Napa cabbage, adding brine and whey and fermenting as for kraut. It was a big hit.

      1. Thanks for sharing this. I am going to try making this “kimchi”. I usually save the solids and add it to my stir-frys.

  12. Hello I love your website!!! I’m wondering, if I can’t find fresh horseradish are there any alternatives I could use instead?


    1. Thank you and welcome! You could try leaving it out and adding more ginger, but there is really no substitute for the qualities that horseradish adds to the recipe. 🙂

          1. If I already made a batch (first time doing so just today) and added prepared horseradish Should I throw it out or could I let it seep is in the fridge? Right now I have it in a cool dark basement.

          2. It depends on what is in your prepared horseradish. If it’s just horseradish and vinegar, you’re probably fine.



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