As the days grow longer, the earth turning its face more and more to the sun, the people around me are bugging and excited with Spring fever. A night owl and winter-lover, the return of the sun can actually be a challenging time for me, my body, mind, and heart struggle to keep up with the buzz. I feel worn out, my brain fried, and also in a whorling, beautiful state.
In spring, nothing is steady. Everything changes day to day, sometimes hour to hour, wind then snow. Is it rain? Is it sleet? Plants bud one hour, then are hit by frost the next. The first forbs are hearty yet tender, the plant life surprising us, surviving this turmoil and fluctuations. Spring shakes off the thick layer of winter silence as snowbanks turn into flooding, slippery mud. The rebirth shakes us on many levels. Snowbanks and icicles that have shaped our world all winter are falling apart.
We mammals wake from the long winter sleep, and some of us are sun-loving, morning people, but not all. The longer days can activate the hypothalamus, reactivating the adrenal glands. All my major manic episodes were in the spring. To complement the “birds and the bees”, the combative energy seems to run through our communities. My friend that works seasonally joked that Spring is “fight or fuck season.” April is the time of Aries, or the warrior Mars, the time of blood and iron.
I live in a place with significantly cold, long winter. In spring, our bodies begin to detoxify the winter grunge. The cold of winter can increase lactic acid buildup, and we tend to drink less water in cold winter. our metabolisms slow, and becoming more efficient. As the metabolism speeds up in the spring, toxins stored in the fat and liver dump into the blood. The longer days, increased stimulation, and junk dumped in our blood creates a lot of stress on our body. The fluctuations in temperature leave me wanting for something to keep me warm.
Enter fire cider. Cleansing, warming, and energizing, it gives me the little extra “bump” to make it through the longer days, easing the transition to waking up. Fire Cider is a spring ritual for me. Mid March, when the snowbanks are hardening and the first inkling of long days start to suggest the spring ramp-up, I hunt for the roots and veggies (mostly in the grocery store, but that carries it’s own type of magic). The anticipation of draining it in a month gets me ready for the transition to spring. Feeling both excited and patient anchors me through all the changes of spring. As the jars of fire cider change from the red of apple cider vinegar, to the yellow-golden color of the infusion, the fresh solar energy of spring grows nearer.
As much as I love spice and hot foods, the stimulation can overload my nervous system. Hot foods like cayenne can be too much for me, jazzing me up. I leave out the cayenne, and include cooling herbs like garden sage, rosemary, and honey.
In addition to the cleansing and energizing effects, the garlic, ginger and horseradish in Fire cider are powerful for kicking spring bugs. The onions and garlic support and stimulate the immune system, and the horseradish flushes congestion like a wasabi shot. For colds and flus, I like to put a few tablespoons in hot water, sit and inhale the steam while I drink, to loosen mucous and move out any invaders. Hot Toddy’s anyone?
So, How Do I Make It?
Combine the following ingredients, put them in a large glass jar, and cover with Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV). Add enough ACV so that there is at least an inch of liquid above the roots, veggies, and spices.
Let sit, covered but able to “breathe”. I like putting a cloth around the top of the jar just to keep things out.
You can chop and grate them by hand, or use a food processor. Chopping all of these hot things will make you sweat and cry. You can wear goggles, running your hands under cold water in between chopping (weird hack that works), or you can take the industrial approach: connect an extension chord to your food processor and run it outside.
I eye-ball the measurements, but here is Mountain Rose Herbals’ Recipe for people who love measuring.
-2 large White Onions
-2 heads of Garlic (crush them first)
-4 sliced Lemons
-1 cup grated Ginger
-1 1/2 cups grated Horseradish
Add for a more cooling combo if spring has you over-buzzing:
-4 tbsp dried Rosemary
-4 tbsp dried Garden Sage (Salvia, not Artemisia spp.)
-1/2 Cup Honey
for a more heating combo if you like the heat and spice, add:
-2 Jalapeno peppers
-2 tbsp dried cayenne
For a smokey, woody take, add:
-3 tbsp dried or 1/4 cup grated fresh turmeric
-3 tbsp dried of 1/4 cup fresh Dandelion or Burdock root
I like to label the jar with the date I started the brew. In 2 weeks to a month, drain the infusion. I like to do a multi-step draining process.
What to do with the “marc” (the dry ingredients we strain from alcohol and vinegar infusions)? I like to grind mind and put it in the dehydrator (or a very low heat oven) and combine with equal parts salt to make a spicey salt rub.
Ps-A company is selling Fire Cider in stores, which is awesome. What is not awesome is that they tried to trademark the name “Fire Cider.” Some bomb herbalists got together, learned some lawyering, and successful fought it. Yay folk-sters! ❤